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Nice one!

The original recipient was probably a non-combatant, judging by the ribbon of the Brunswick War Merit Cross. The Iron Cross' ribbon, although the combatant version, is in this instance most likely one of those awarded on the combatant ribbon for services rendered at home, there are a few other examples in these threads, all of which can be identified by having an Ehrenkreuz without swords as can be seen on this bar.

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Thanks for that, it was just I was thinking non combatant too so does that mean the EK ribbon is the wrong sort or is that just for civilains the white ribbon?

Thanks again.

Jock :)

From what I know the Iron Cross was awarded on the non-combatant ribbon to civilians and certain soldiers (there are for sure a number awarded to deckoffiziers, If i remember correctly). However, there are also cases, like the bar above, where the recipient was a non-combatant yet received the Iron Cross on the combatant ribbon. I am not exactly sure why the difference was made (I believe Chris has more information on this than I do ;) ), but there is certainly nothing 'wrong' with this ribbon.

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As I'm sure I have written before, it is common and convenient to refer to the two versions of the Iron Cross 2nd Class ribbon as "combatant" and "non-combatant", but for the 1914 version, this is not really accurate. Prussian official sources rarely do so; rather, they simply say "on the black-white ribbon" or "on the white-black ribbon", or something similar

The original Stiftungsurkunde of 10 March 1813 stated that the 2nd Class would be awarded on the black ribbon if earned in combat before the enemy, and on the white ribbon otherwise. About 4% of 2nd Class awards were on the white ribbon, to politicians, civil and military officials, civilians, medical personnel and others, About a fifth of these were to medical personnel.

The statute of 19 July 1870 renewing the Iron Cross used the same language. About 9% of 1870-71 2nd Class awards were on the white ribbon. I don't know if anyone has ever done a complete breakdwon, but the percentage of these which were to medical personnel seems much higher than for the 1813 version. Just going through the first few pages, it looks like about half were to medical personnel, and the other half include a number of chaplains, paymasters, and other military officials in military formations at the front.

Awards of other decorations on the Iron Cross ribbon through the colonial wars also appear to follow this pattern. Doctors, chaplains, veterinarians, etc. tended to get the Red Eagle or Crown Order with Swords on the white ribbon unless their merit was in actual combat operations. Maybe someone has done a more complete study?

The Urkunde über die Erneuerung des Eisernen Kreuzes of 5 August 1914 changed the wording. It stated that "the 2nd Class will be worn on the buttonhole on a black ribbon with white edge, provided it is awarded for merit in the war zone. For merit earned at home, it will be awarded on the white ribbon with black edge." This meant that medical personnel, chaplains, officials, and other personnel at or near the front would receive the cross on the black ribbon.

But even this distinction does not appear to have lasted long. On 16 March 1915, a new regulation changed the language to "the 2nd Class will be worn on the buttonhole on a black ribbon with white edge, provided it is awarded for merit in the war zone. For merit earned at home, it will be awarded on the white ribbon with black edge, unless the award was made on account of exceptional military merit." In practice, this meant that for serving military personnel, even on the homefront, practically all awards of the Iron Cross 2nd Class were on the black ribbon. Officer in the Kriegsministerium in Berlin, instructor at Sennelager, paper-pusher in a stellv. Korpsgeneralkommando - they all got the black ribbon.

The result shows up in the award numbers. Of over 5 million awards, only about 13,000, or 2/10ths of 1%, were on the white ribbon (EK2w). These typically went to government officials and civilians involved in the war industry. The 1918 Navy rank list shows also that shipbuilding officials (Marine-Bauräte and the like) also received the EK2w. Since we don't have a similar list for the Prussian Army, I'm not sure what the practice was there. Looking at Bavarian records, I don't see a consistent pattern. For example, in the Kriegsrangliste of the Artillerie-Werkstätte in Munich, some Zeug-officers and officials have the EK2, some have the EK2w, and some have the War Aid Cross, and many have no Prussian award.

This last award also complicates the matter. The Prussian Merit Cross for War Aid was created on 5 December 1916. Many people, especially civil servants, now received this award where previously they might have been awarded the EK2w. Otherwise the number of EK2w awards would probably have been much higher than 13,000.

The Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges, established on 13 July 1934, had different criteria. The regulation for the Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer required that one was actually in harm's way at some point, so military personnel who could not document service at the front received the Ehrenkreuz für Kriegsteilnehmer.

The other states of the German Empire had their own criteria, which often differed from Prussia's. Going back to the bar at the top of this thread, Braunschweig's regulations were similar to Prussia's. The War Merit Cross was originally awarded on the blue-yellow ribbon for service at the front, and the yellow-blue ribbon for service in the homeland. As with Prussia, this was later changed to allow military personnel in the homeland to receive the blue-yellow ribbon. But if you had received the yellow-blue ribbon before the change, it was up to you to contact the State Ministry in Braunschweig and request a new Urkunde awarding the blue-yellow ribbon. If you didn't bother, you end up with a combination like that shown here.

The Hesse medal bar above, however, is interesting. Is the General Honor Decoration a "For War Merits" version? Hesse's regulations underwent a lot of changes over the course of the war, so it gets confusing, but in most cases, someone who was eligible for the Iron Cross on the black ribbon should have gotten his General Honor Decoration "For War Merits" on the war ribbon. I'm sure there were exceptions, though, and post-1918 practice was all over the place. Also, technically, according to the regulations, one shouldn't have more than one war medal (General Honor Decoration, Militär-Sanitätskreuz, or Kriegsehrenzeichen), but this rule does not seem to have been followed in many cases. And this is one of those cases where I really wish we still had Rick L's help, but I'm pretty sure that according to Third Reich regulations, since the Kriegsehrenzeichen was literally a "war decoration" even if for homefront merit, it should come before the Ehrenkreuz, not after. However, many soldiers didn't value these homefront awards very highly, so they had them mounted like peacetime state awards after the war decorations.

I hope this helps,


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Thanks Dave for that detailed explanation, sheds quite a bit of light on the subject.

Yes, the Hesse General Honour Decoration on my bar is the 'Fur Kriegsverdienste' version.

I assume that by war ribbon you mean the one with the wider red stripes, as generally seen on the 'Fur Tapferkeit version'? If so, my medal bar is the only one where I have seen both the Iron Cross on the black-white ribbon and the Hesse General Honour Decoration 'Fur Kriegsverdienste' on the ribbon with the narrow red stripes. I have seen 4 others with both these medals, and all the Hesse medals are on the war ribbon. Never noticed the difference before.


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the war aid cross was awarded ~ 500 000 times.

I have had 2 bars with the same shown combination.

The brunswicks on schwefelgelbem Bande are rarer to find, but not x-tremely rare.

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Thankyou for that detailed help there. it had not occured to me that they were constantly changing award criteria, I guess it makes sense as the war rumbled on that it would need to be tweeked. I can see now it would be quite a task to find a white ribbon original.

Thanks Again.

Jock :)

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