Jump to content

How were soldiers awarded bravery medals from different German States?


Recommended Posts

I have medals from a soldier awarded the Bavarian Military Merit Cross and a Hanseatic Cross from Hamburg and was curious how this was achieved. 

I’m not asking for my specific case just wondering about the protocol. Like Was he from Bavaria and under the command of someone from Hamburg or did he save someone’s life who was from Hamburg? That sort of thing.

Thanks,

Rav

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a good question, with several answers. Natives of one state who were serving under another state's unit might get decorations from both states. Sometimes, if an honorary officer of a regiment was from the same state as a 'foreigner' in the unit, he might distribute awards based upon this. Units were sometimes seconded to serve under the command of other states' units, resulting in this practice as well. High profile awards were made as a propaganda statement, for instance in the case of Otto Weddigen in 1914 and later von Richthofen, although the Bavarians never gave him the MMJO.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sometimes it was something like a Soldier from State XXX served in a Bavarian regiment, and got State XXX awards as well

Sometimes a Regiment fought under the command of a different Division for a certain action, i.e. a Prussian Regiment under a Bavarian Division commander... and they got Bavarian awards for that action

Some small units were pushed backwards and forwards under different divisions or General kommandoes not of their own state (Ammunition columns, field hospitals etc) and they got awards from the different states commands they fell under

Some like the Bavarian 21st IR were named for someone like Großherzog Friedrich Franz IV. of Mecklenburg Schwerin who then visited and distributed medals...

Those are the ways I can think of off the top of my head

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Interesting question, at least regarding the KVK of Brunswick, I can tell you something. 

First the rules changed during the war, at the beginning it was strict to the regulations and normaly only soldiers of Brunswick could get the cross from Brunswick. Exceptions were regiments were Duke Ernst August has personal ties to, so the 1. kgl schwere Reiter from Bavaria and the prussian Husars regiment Von Ziethen stationed in Rathenow. An other exception was the regiment 2. Leib-Husaren Königin Viktoria von Preußen. If Officers once served in a regiment from Brunswick, they also could get the KVK from Brunswick after they got other decorations for bravery in the field.

If other regiments helped the forces from Brunswick during the battle and they rejoined their forces, these soldiers could also get the war merit cross from Brunswick for bravery. If a officier who led a regiment or mor, asked for the kvk from brunswick for some of his soldiers from 1916 on, they could get it, even if the recipients were not from Brunswick.

At the end the decision who could get these decorations were allways depending on the free will of the duke. As Chris stated above, there are many reasons, why this happened.

Interesting fact about all this is, that Prussia wasn't so happy about it, because the soldiers from the other states could get more medals than the normal prussian soldier who could only get the iron cross. They were many letters about this exchanged between the German states in WW1.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The replies above have identified the typical ways a Landesorden was awarded. Practice varied from state to state, especially with regard to which award one might get, and the criteria changed during the war. Braunschweig, for instance, initially only awarded the Kriegsverdienstkreuz on the blue-yellow ribbon if you served at the front or in the Kriegsschauplatz, with awards on the yellow-blue ribbon for merit on the homefront. Eventually, Braunschweig changed this to follow Prussia's practice, where military personnel in the Heimat could receive the Iron Cross on the black-white ribbon. So, early in the war, someone stationed at the stellv. Generalkommando in Hannover or at the Kriegsministerium in Berlin might receive a "combatant" Iron Cross but a "non-combatant" Kriegsverdienstkreuz. With the change in policy, they could return their ribbon and Urkunde to Braunschweig and receive a new blue-yellow ribbon and Urkunde. However, you had to apply yourself; the authorities did not automatically issue new ribbons and documents. Therefore you can still see "combatant" EK2/"non-combatant" BrK2 medal bars if the recipient never bothered to apply.

Braunschweig was much stricter with the Bewährungsabzeichen. It routinely denied the device to recipients of the Kriegsverdienstkreuz who were not Braunschweigers or serving in Braunschweig units. By contrast, when it was created, the Kriegsverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse was awarded if the recipient could show he was already in possession of the Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2. Klasse and had received the Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse. 

To summarize, the most common ways to receive a Landesorden were:

1. Be a native of the state. However, this was often not enough. Many states such as Reuß denied awards to people born in the state but who had left the state. So, if you were born in Greiz, but your family moved to Saxony when you were a child, you might be denied. If you were born and raised in Greiz, but left as an adult and spent the majority of your economic life outside Reuß, you were denied. But if you left Reuß for reasons outside of your control, such as active military or civil service, you could still get the award. The Kingdoms who had some military autonomy from Prussia were fairly strict in this regard. A native Bavarian or Saxon who served in the Prussian Army would not likely receive a Bavarian or Saxon award, unlike a native Badener in the Prussian Army, even when the Badener served in non-Baden units.

2. Serve in that state's contingent, or its wartime daughter formations (Tochterformationen). These ranged in peacetime from the multi-corps Bavarian Army down to the battalion-sized contingents of Schaumburg-Lippe and Waldeck. Many wartime units were not officially established as state formations, but as daughters of their parent formations were considered essentially as so. Thus RJB 7 and RJB 20 were Schaumburg units, RIR 90 and RIR 214 were Mecklenburg regiments, etc.  Also,  a number of Prussian regiments and formations, while not officially state contingents, were considered as effectively connected to particular states. For example, the Minden-based Prussian regiments IR 15 and FAR 58 recruited from Schaumburg-Lippe as well as Prussian Westphalia, and Schaumburg-Lippe routinely awarded decorations to men in these units and their daughter formations. FR 36 was a Prussian regiment, but one of its battalions was based in Bernburg, so Anhalt awards were common to this unit as well as RIR 36 (Tochterformation of FR 36 and IR 93) and LIR 36. JRzP 5 was a Prussian regiment based in Alsace, but it was part of Baden's XIV.Armeekorps, so Baden awards were common to that regiment.

I would say this was more common for officers than NCOs and men. A Prussian-born Musketier in IR 93 could expect to be put in for a Friedrichkreuz simply by being in the regiment, but a Füsilier in FR 36 would usually need to be an Anhaltiner. However, a Hauptmann in FR 36 might get the Friedrichkreuz by virtue of being the commander of a sufficient number of Anhalt Landeskinder. Though this could happen with any unit with a bunch of Landeskinder. As BlackcowboyBS notes with Braunschweig, an officer might nominate some of his Braunschweigers for an award, and find himself nominated as well. 

3. Serve in a regiment whose Chef or Inhaber was the sovereign of another state. In Duke Ernst August's old regiment, HR 3, to which he was à la suite, at least 115 officers received the Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2. Klasse and at least 32 the 1. Klasse. Grand Duke Wilhelm Ernst was Chef of HR 12 and the Saxon Karabinier-Regiment, and the White Falcon and other Sachsen-Weimar awards were common in those regiments. Officers and men of the 2.GUR often received Saxon awards, those of the 3.GUR Waldeck awards, and those of the 1.GDR Oldenburg and Saxon awards (there is correspondence in the archives in Dessau where Prinz Aribert tells the Duke that Oldenburg has awarded a bunch of its crosses to 1.GDR, and Anhalt needs to follow suite).

In GGR 2, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary was the Chef and the Duke of Sachsen-Meiningen was à la suite. Wartime awards of the Ehrenzeichen für Verdienst im Kriege were common, and many GGR 2 officers had more peacetime and wartime Austrian awards than anything else, in some cases more than many Austrians had. Sachsen-Meiningen's Ehrenzeichen für Verdienst im Kriege, both cross and medal, was also routinely awarded to officers and men of GR 10, whose Chef was the Duke, and GR 11, whose Chef was the Duchess (and sister to the Kaiser), as well as Saxon IR 133. Other examples include Mecklenburg-Schwerin awards to LGR 8, IR 24 and 21.bay.IR, Bavarian awards to IR 47, IR 102 and LKR 1, Württemberg awards to KR 5, IR 105 and 4.bay.IR, Austro-Hungarian awards to 13.bay.IR, FR 122, HR 16 and UR 17, Bulgarian awards to IR 72, Baden awards to IR 103, IR 126 and 8.bay.IR, Hessen-Darmstadt awards to IR 17 and 5.bay.IR, Braunschweig awards to 1.bay.SchwRR and LHR 2 (whose Chef was Ernst August's wife and the Kaiser's daughter), Reuß awards to the LGHR, JB 4 and JB 13, and Schaumburg-Lippe awards to HR 7. HR 14 received more Schaumburg-Lippe awards than HR 7, but that is because Fürst Adolf was merely à la suite to HR 7, while he actually commanded HR 14.

Those are the three main ways to receive a Landesorden. As Chris noted, there were also a lot of random awards when units from one state came under command or were co-located with units from another state. This seems to account for a rather large number of Schaumburg-Lippe awards to RIR 24 and Saxon LdstIR 19, two units otherwise unconnected to the Principality.

You can see why Prussia might be annoyed. If you were born in Königsberg and went into one of your local regiments, GR 3, you were a Prussian in a Prussian regiment whose Chef was the Kaiser and King of Prussia. So by the three criteria above, you got one decoration, the Iron Cross. If you were a Hamburg-born sergeant in in Bavaria's 8.IR, though, you could get a Hanseatic Cross based on nationality, a Bavarian Military Merit Cross based on contingent, and a Baden Merit Medal based on your Chef, all to go with your Iron Cross as a German soldier.

I imagine, though, that a Frontsoldat, be he Bavarian, Prussian or Hamburger, was even more annoyed at the staff officers and support personnel at higher commands who racked up awards because of the various state formations they "supported". Among the worst offenders was the Kriegsamt, especially Wumba, which sent out lists of award recommendations to every state late in the war hoping to get various ones approved. This resulted in odd random combinations of "combatant" awards like the EK2, homefront-ribboned versions of other state awards, and awards specifically for homefront merit like the Saxon Kriegsverdienstkreuz and the Bavarian König-Ludwig-Kreuz.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Dave Danner said:

Among the worst offenders was the Kriegsamt, especially Wumba, which sent out lists of award recommendations to every state late in the war hoping to get various ones approved. This resulted in odd random combinations of "combatant" awards like the EK2, homefront-ribboned versions of other state awards, and awards specifically for homefront merit like the Saxon Kriegsverdienstkreuz and the Bavarian König-Ludwig-Kreuz.

Great write up Dave! Regarding your last part about WUMBA, I guess these two bars would fit.

Major Robert Strehle, Feuerwerkslaboratorium Siegburg later WUMBA.

 

Major Robert Strehle.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

That covers awards and is very helpful. Now a follow up question- how could one get long service awards from two different states? I have noticed a couple bars like this and was always suspicious of them!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi CRBeery, in case of Brunswick I can explain that. They had their own long service medals until 1886. In 1886 the troops of Brunswick joined the command structure of Prussia, because Brunswick joined the prussian military convention. After 1886 even soliers from the duchy of Brunswick got prussian long services. So if a NCO got an services award for 15 year in 1882 he got the one from Brunswick and he could get the next level from Prussia. Normally they should give their old decorations or lower level back, when they recieved their newer and higher one. But some cases are known, where these people wore both decorations, even if this was against the official rules. 

Maybe these people just put their medal bar together after they left the army and put their old decorations also on that bar to show that they have served in Brunswick and not in Prussia. 

The only German state who never joined the military convention with Prussia was the Kingdom of Bavaria, as far as I know. So what I explain above could also happen to people from other german states. But you are right, this was not the normal way and strictly gainst the rules. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

for the Hanseaten-Kreuze of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck soldiers serving on the ships of these names were elligible for the respective awards of the cities that the ships were named after.

GreyC

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, GreyC said:

Hi,

for the Hanseaten-Kreuze of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck soldiers serving on the ships of these names were elligible for the respective awards of the cities that the ships were named after.

GreyC

This was true of a number of naval vessels "adopted" by various states, such as the SMS Hessen, SMS Oldenburg and SMS Prinzregent Luitpold

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
On 15/07/2020 at 17:38, Dave Danner said:

 

In GGR 2, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary was the Chef and the Duke of Sachsen-Meiningen was à la suite. Wartime awards of the Ehrenzeichen für Verdienst im Kriege were common, and many GGR 2 officers had more peacetime and wartime Austrian awards than anything else, in some cases more than many Austrians had. Sachsen-Meiningen's Ehrenzeichen für Verdienst im Kriege, both cross and medal, was also routinely awarded to officers and men of GR 10, whose Chef was the Duke, and GR 11, whose Chef was the Duchess (and sister to the Kaiser), as well as Saxon IR 133. Other examples include Mecklenburg-Schwerin awards to LGR 8, IR 24 and 21.bay.IR, Bavarian awards to IR 47, IR 102 and LKR 1, Württemberg awards to KR 5, IR 105 and 4.bay.IR, Austro-Hungarian awards to 13.bay.IR, FR 122, HR 16 and UR 17, Bulgarian awards to IR 72, Baden awards to IR 103, IR 126 and 8.bay.IR, Hessen-Darmstadt awards to IR 17 and 5.bay.IR, Braunschweig awards to 1.bay.SchwRR and LHR 2 (whose Chef was Ernst August's wife and the Kaiser's daughter), Reuß awards to the LGHR, JB 4 and JB 13, and Schaumburg-Lippe awards to HR 7. HR 14 received more Schaumburg-Lippe awards than HR 7, but that is because Fürst Adolf was merely à la suite to HR 7, while he actually commanded HR 14.

 

Hello Dave.

Could you explain me the difference between being Chef of a Regiment, and being à la suite? The Chef was a kind of honorific Colonel, and à la suite is not linked with a concrete grade?

 

Thanks for your help.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Blackcowboy.

I understand, except one thing. A honorific member à la suite of a regiment had the right to wear its uniform, but which military rank? Oberst? As I knew, a German regiment had always a real Oberst, and could have a honorific Oberst (a Chef). An  à la suite member had also the rank of Oberst in the regiment?

 

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Cartaphilus
Link to post
Share on other sites

Cartaphilus,

 

no, not necessary.

A guy á la suite of a Regiment did wear the rank he owns. If he is a young Prince with the rank of a Lieutenant or an old Herzog as full General.

That very British sytem of a Regimental honorary COLONEL did not happen in German states.

One could be CHIEF of a Regiment and could be a General.

 

Best,

Daniel

Link to post
Share on other sites

A wonderful thread for a very interesting and certainly complex subject to understand why someone may received an award from various states...

 

Thank You,

Chuck 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Blog Comments

    • Lapsang Souchong, when i first tasted this I thought it was like stale cigarette ends...it's an acquired taste for sure.  
    • I like my tea strong enough for my spoon to stand up in. My father got me into it. When my father was at RAF Dum Dum 1943-47 most of his fellow officers drank ice cold drinks to mitigate  the heat, his Sikh batman warned him against it and said that strong hot tea would cool him down, most certainly did. So years later in the UK when everybody else was drinking iced drinks on a baking day the wood family was inbibing copious quantities of hot strong brews of Assam's finest. P
    • Hi ccj, Thanks for your comments. Funny how, for me at least, coffee has become a habit more than a conscience choice. It's the old, "Well if you having one (coffee) pour me as well". When I get together with my son-in-law, a former Brit, it's tea all the way. Thanks again. Regards Brian  
    • I live and grew up in the south (USA) and the drink of choice 7 days a week was cold sweet tea. I was unaware Lipton was British because that’s what most southern use for brewing tea. When I joined the army I learned most people in the north and western parts of the USA drank unsweetened tea and that was perplexing to my young brain. Now days I can’t stand sweet iced tea but it’s still the most common drink in the south, but, you can get unsweetened ice tea in the south. Im familiar with ho
    • I drink tea every day (Chinese tea), I used to buy Sri Lankan black tea at the fair before, it was great! I have been reluctant to drink them all. . The tea I’m talking about is just brewing water, not adding other substancesI
×
×
  • Create New...