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Cheapening the Iron Cross


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Hi Guys,

I have been putting the finishing touches to a improved/revamped article arguing that the Iron Cross of 1914 was not a cheapening of the award compared to 1870, it should in fact be seen as a more prestigious award than the 1870 cross.

I realize this goes against the grain of almost every book and article to date, so I encourage discussion and rock throwing.

What is your opinion... was the 1914 Iron Cross over awarded, way too many crosses with many people who did not deserve it getting one?

I am a great admirer of the Wernitz Tomes... but feel his chapter on the cheapening of the cross totally misses the point.

I look forward to seeing the final layout of the article and hope you enjoy it.

 

Best

Chris

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I will looking forward to your article! I guess the truth lays between your two options. In the beginnig of the war, when the Gemans were very sure to win this war quick and be back when the leaves will fall, it was a highly appreciated and prestigious award. At the end of the war many orders were too oftenly awarded, just see the golden war merit cross. nearly no awards until 1918 and then at the end of the war nearly all of the awards given in WWI. It was a last effort to stabilize the moral of the troops, I don't believe that they were so many braver deeds in 1918 then all the years before. 

just my 2ct to it.

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38 minutes ago, BlackcowboyBS said:

I will looking forward to your article! I guess the truth lays between your two options. In the beginnig of the war, when the Gemans were very sure to win this war quick and be back when the leaves will fall, it was a highly appreciated and prestigious award. At the end of the war many orders were too oftenly awarded, just see the golden war merit cross. nearly no awards until 1918 and then at the end of the war nearly all of the awards given in WWI. It was a last effort to stabilize the moral of the troops, I don't believe that they were so many braver deeds in 1918 then all the years before. 

just my 2ct to it.

Yes indeed... but with the GMVK it bears remembering that to have a shot at it you needed to already have the EK2 and EK1.... which is why the first guy to qualify was some time in 1916 if I remember right? The Stufen system of the Prussians was very unfortunate. Bavarians could get a Gold Bravery medal from the first week in the field! I agree, a Brave deed was a brave deed in 1914 or 1918.

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It's been discussed over and over and over again. The cheapened image of the Iron Cross awarded in massive numbers late in the War was the result of an effort to bolster troop-morale and rekindle loyalty to the Kaiser. This observation is nothing new.  

What I would like to see discussed is something that is never discussed.  Why didn't the Prussians establish an alternative award?  The 3rd Reich solved this problem by creating the War Merit Cross with Swords.  The Iron Cross during WW2 thereby remained a true combattants' award.  Consequently, it managed to maintain its prestige and significance.  

Couldn't the Kriegshilfdienst Cross with crossed swords added have effectlvely served as such an alternative award?    

Edited by Simius Rex
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8 minutes ago, Simius Rex said:

It's been discussed over and over and over again. The cheapened image of the Iron Cross awarded in massive numbers late in the War was the result of an effort to bolster troop-morale and rekindle loyalty to the Kaiser. This observation is nothing new.  

 

I respectfully disagree with point 1,

Agree with point 2

and find point 3 an interesting idea

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during ww1, things were farmed out to local states and governments and i bet the prussians didn't feel compelled to create a universal award that fulfilled this criteria, as there were many localized ones that satisfied the need. towards the end of the war, when things began breaking down there may have been a "disconnect" with military leadership and the local states and governments, so the military could have broadened the award criteria of the ek2 a bit in order to offset the reduction in localized war effort awards

with the advent of national socialism and it's pervasive quest for universal control of every aspect of its constituents lives, those old localized awards were done away with and new ones were created that fell under the umbrella of the unified, all encompassing 3rd reich war effort, because, as brian mentions, the national socialists indeed recognized the issues with the award of the iron cross during ww1 and acted to "improve"... that's my guess

Edited by Eric Stahlhut
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On 07/11/2020 at 18:13, Simius Rex said:

 

What I would like to see discussed is something that is never discussed.  Why didn't the Prussians establish an alternative award?  The 3rd Reich solved this problem by creating the War Merit Cross with Swords.  The Iron Cross during WW2 thereby remained a true combattants' award.  Consequently, it managed to maintain its prestige and significance.  

Couldn't the Kriegshilfdienst Cross with crossed swords added have effectlvely served as such an alternative award?    

Interessting point at the end of your statement, but as Eric said below there wasn't a real German award besides the Iron Cross, all other were prussian (Blue Max and House Order of Hohenzolern) or highly appreciated orders like Military St. Henry from Saxonia. 

But the Kriegshilfs Cross wans't appreciated much by the soldiers, it was often given to civilians on the home front, for example for collecting money for the Kriegsanleihen. So just swords on it wouldn't helped. During my studies for my books on Brunswick I stumbled upon documents showing that the german states couldn't even find an approch during war time to minimize bureaucracy for giving foreign orders to their soldiers. So a soldier from saxonia has to get the approval for excepting an order from Bavaria and so on. This was valid until the bitter end of the war. So thinking of a new merit medal or order for military medal for all German soldiers besides the Iron Cross was an impossible thing to do in those days. 

PS: By the way, the Prussian King and German Emperor was allways unhappy about the fact, that his prussian soldiers normally got only prussian awards but saxonian, bavarians etc, could get their own orders plus the prussian Iron Cross. It was felt like a discrimination even by the soldiers.

20 hours ago, Eric Stahlhut said:

during ww1, things were farmed out to local states and governments and i bet the prussians didn't feel compelled to create a universal award that fulfilled this criteria, as there were many localized ones that satisfied the need. towards the end of the war, when things began breaking down there may have been a "disconnect" with military leadership and the local states and governments, so the military could have broadened the award criteria of the ek2 a bit in order to offset the reduction in localized war effort awards

with the advent of national socialism and it's pervasive quest for universal control of every aspect of its constituents lives, those old localized awards were done away with and new ones were created that fell under the umbrella of the unified, all encompassing 3rd reich war effort, because, as brian mentions, the national socialists indeed recognized the issues with the award of the iron cross during ww1 and acted to "improve"... that's my guess

fully agree with you. The Nazi Party realized the value on the IC and tried to stabilize that value through the war. 

Edited by BlackcowboyBS
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"The Nazi Party realized the value on the IC and tried to stabilize that value through the war.  " ... I think they had it under strict control. Look at the hundreds and hundreds of Postcards, coffee cups, ashtrays and bed warmers with the EK on in 1914... Almost none of the above for WW2

Here is an is idea that ruffles feathers....

The premise of my article is that the Iron Cross of 1914 was worth as much or more than the Iron Cross of 1870.

Authors, collectors and even soldiers back then stumble over reasons why it is "inflated" or worth less, but see it from the wrong perspective.

I have my helmet on and expect to have eggs thrown at me .....

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i think one must consider and compare the scale of the two conflicts and the effect that each war had on the populations at the time. obviously, ww1 had a lot more people involved, and it lasted longer, some ways it had a greater value (big conflict involving everyone, more attainable)-- but in other ways, the value can be perceived as lessened (more exclusive during 1870, smaller conflict, fewer awarded))!   lol

i personally don't think the iron cross  itself was ever cheapened.

the value of a human life was definitely cheapened

Edited by Eric Stahlhut
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