Jump to content
News Ticker
  • I am now accepting the following payment methods: Card Payments, Apple Pay, Google Pay and PayPal
  • Latest News

    Recommended Posts

    I?ve decided to identify with the fools and start an ill-advised thread as my maiden voyage here. I am seeking opinions and data to support identification of ?EQUIVALENTS? ? clearly a fool?s errand!

    I am interested in military history and especially the ?crossover German soldiers? who served as relative youngsters in the Great War and later became leaders in the Wehrmacht.

    I have been trying to understand if there were signals that ?marked? some at this early point of their careers.

    The Pour le merite was a clear signal of such marking especially when one considers the small number of Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery junior officers so recognized. In conversation with my respected tutor and friend ? Rick Lundstr?m, I was quickly shown the error of my perception that the Plm was a Prussian Award granted to all citizens of the empire. Rick was quick to point out that this was the case for the celebrities ? Aviators, Raiders, U-boot Captains - but not so for those carrying the awful burden of direct combat. Officers in the grade of Captain or lower outside the celebrity category did not garner a bountiful harvest of the Blue Max. The Navy?s junior officers who were not flying or submerging won ZERO awards of this medal. The Army?s junior officers won 70 or approximately 13% of the awards versus 215 or 40% to Generals. I base these numbers on an admittedly quick survey of the lists in William Hamelman?s ?History of the Prussian Pour le Merite Order?. Of the 70, only two ? Rommel?s & Sch?rner?s ? went to non-Prussian officers. This leads me to conclude that ?marking? outside Prussian contingents was not done with this award.

    I have chosen as a start position ? therefore the first element for discussion ? to characterize the Plm as awarded to these officers as:

    Awarded in ?significant? numbers yet low enough to be exclusive.

    An ?Officers Only? award (Order).

    Having a normal progression including as least one lower prerequisite order.

    The highest award for military merit/bravery.

    Given my starting point ? I identify the following possibilities:

    Bavaria?s MMJO (RK)

    Saxony?s MSHO (RK) but worry that it was much more widely distributed than the Blue Max especially considering the smaller population eligible.

    W?rttemberg?s WKOX (RK) ? too few to consider?

    W?rttemberg?s MVO (RK) ? similar concerns as those for MSHO

    Baden?s MKFVO (RK).

    The highest orders for the other sovereign entities where either practically ?one offs? or the only order available and hence discounted.

    Any insights on distribution by grade, disputes due to either inclusion or exclusion are welcome!

    Let the games begin (I hope)! biggrin.gif

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Hi Wayne, I do not think there was any such thought process. "Marking" as you call it in your post was not an indication of some "future plan", but a reward for services rendered.

    When The NSDAP came to power in the 1930's, having received such awards was not indicative of anything other than past military service and/or bravery. What was more important to the NSDAP was political adherence and reliability.

    A significant number of highly decorated individuals from WW1 were ignored, censured or executed based upon political disagreement or "racial impurities"... including at least one recipient of the PLM.

    I am not sure I understand the question and/or preposition at hand?

    You open with a "I'm looking for equivalents" statement.

    Equivalents of what?

    Your listing of "highest military decoration" by the main kingdoms (Excluding Baden, a Duchy) is correct. The awards are all of your criteria...

    Excluding the WOKwX, which was not the highest military award, it's a "House Order" with swords attached.

    But again, these were not "markings" of some future plan....

    Not really sure what your after here.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Guest Rick Research

    It is hard to equate the awards of the federal imperial states to each other-- there is basically only a "tier" within each state.

    I would say that for officers, the only real "equivalents" would be

    Prussian Pour le Merite

    Baden MKFVO

    Bavarian MMJO

    Saxony and W?rttemberg were waaaaaay too generous with their top awards, and too many things went by rank rather than merit--

    for instance, the W?rttemberg Crown Order-Knight X is a "normal" award that when we see it in groups, first thought, statistically, is "Major of General Staff." Yet rear area Beamten of that rank got the same thing for counting socks back in the Fatherland. No equivalance even within the same AWARD! ohmy.gif

    I don't think awards per se played any role in the promotion or retention process, at least before 1939. There are a number of fairly senior mid-level officers in the Reichswehr with nothing but an EK2-- POWs since 1914, that sort of thing.

    General staff service certainly played a significant role in "adding points," but that only applied to Captains and up. I'm not sure what PRECISE criteria were used in vetting officers to be kept on after 1920--

    could have been as simple as review board instinct, and a desire to "stack" certain decks (air force banned "currently," but needed to preserve a cadre of trained flyers "just in case" being one sort of example). They REALLY had to balance "fighters" with "thinkers" in anticipation of a future none of them could guess.

    Since there were FOUR main armies, and a host of semi-independent "local" ones which each had their own standards, the army is tough to figure out for consistency. I know waves of officers the Reichswehr wanted opted out by refusing to consider serving the Republic. And many more officers wanted to be kept on than could be-- I've seen Officialese Letters back stating bluntly "you've been rejected and stop pestering us because Ain't Gonna HAPPEN."

    The navy, on the other hand, had a Plan that is almost frightening, in its success. In any given Reichsmarine group photo, down to the lowest ranks, admiral after later admiral pops out. It is as if however they were selected, they were spotted at INDUCTION as cadets, with allowances for the usual attrition. They may have pared to the bone... but they chose extremely wisely!

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Rick & Rick,

    Well done & thanks! As I reread I can see that my post was not at all skillful but you pretty much got it! I presented way too much explanation and not enough clarity in the questions.

    I was hoping to emerge with an ability to connect the dots for significant awards as predictors of later achievement. Sch?rner, Rommel, Busch being examples of the path I was following. Your answers certainly point to the problem of small sample size.

    That said ? the real quest was to gain a consensus regarding Pour le Merite equivalents especially for the junior non-celebrity officers. Are my parameters too restrictive if looking for legitimate equivalents? If a Saxon were not realistically going to receive a Plm, what would he receive? MSHO is the clear answer but as pointed out ? a holder would not necessarily be assumed to have performed to the standard required for the Blue Max. Same situation applies to the W?rttemberg MVO. That?s where the WKOX comes in and the answer was a clear no. So the question then becomes ? if Plm, MMJO & MKFVO are as close as it gets to correspondence ? are there other candidate deserving consideration? SEHO? Not by my criteria but are they proper in your estimation? How about the Hessian KEZ in Iron?

    Bottom line ? what are the legitimate equivalents & why do we consider them so?

    Thank you for your patience & answers.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    One thing to consider... the MOSH had a commander grade, (2 grades actually) as well as a grand cross........ Immelmann was the only Junior Officer to receive both the Kommander & RK grades... I believe his commander SH came after his PLM!

    So, you could probably still use the MOSH, but narrow the field a bit to Commander Grade.......

    Just to brighten things up a bit, here's a Commander's Cross made by Osang of Dresden.... (destroyed in WW2 bombings of Dresden)

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    You are absolutely correct. Of course - again it's the aviators who get all the glory - not that there's anything wrong with that...

    O'Connor does mention the intended award of the Commander's Cross of the already included MMJO to Tutschek and the actual award (posthumous) to an Infantry Leutnant! Now there was a stud!

    Commander SEHO to an aviator serving in the Middleeast comes to mind as well. Name of this officer slips my mind right now but again - the celebrities win...

    Edited by W McSwiggan
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Guest Rick Research

    Saxony was the most "American" of the German states-- biggrin.gif

    That is, they did not go by "first you get the lowest class and then slowwwwly work your way up" the way the other German states did, but recognized insane bravery as just that-- and could, and did, bestow their highest awards FIRST, without pre-conditions. Unlike the other states, they then continued to bestow awards that way, so there were actually numerous Saxon junior officers who had Commanders of Saint Henry.

    There were a couple of Bavarian cases (maybe three at most) where Max Joseph Commander grades also went to suicidally valiant junior officers, but again, this sort of thing was "natives" only and so didn't apply outside of the home state army. Some enlisted men also got Bravery Medals before the usual by-rank MMCs... perhaps more commonly (naturally) than MMJOs.

    W?rttemberg is, of course, the Nightmare State of German WW1 awards, with their uniquely freakish system (finally abandoned, best we can tell, some time in 1917) of REMOVING "lower" awards when a higher was made-- so that somebody with three awards might only be able to wear ONE ribbon-- and they then RE-awarded those lower awards again when enough complaints came in that "everybody else has more ribbons than us." rolleyes.gif

    So each of the federal states did their own thing-- often to the detriment of Pure Prussians-- because a state that gave its own awards AND Iron Crosses meant the average non-Prussian officer had at least THREE awards (often 4) when a Just Plain Prussian only had TWO-- both classes of the Iron Cross.

    The only biographical source I have on all winners of a specific top award is for the Max Joseph knights. Subtracting the senior command personnel who got theis that way, most of the Knight class recipients were junior officers, and most were infantry. Of those, most were either reservists or Lieutenants who went on to non-military careers after 1920, to be called back in either 1935 or 1939. That made most of them too old and too low in grade for frontline service in the Second War, so they served in most cases in less active jobs.

    Just flipping through the Luftwaffe generals' biographies, a LOT of Pour le Merite winners (same thing, too old and too junior for front commands) who were postcard celebrities the First time around, ended up commanding things like airports in occupied areas.

    Anybody who did not stay in continuous military service (or go Nazi, for the opportunities that gave), was passed by.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    As far as MVK equivalents - I'd say the Bavarian GTM and Saxon Gold St Henry are pretty safe bets. Wurttemberg makes me nervous however - their Gold MVM was tied to Snr NCO/Jnr Officer rank. Gonna need a little help on Baden and the lesser sovereigns.

    Edited by W McSwiggan
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Back Again!

    re: Prussian MVK equivalents -

    I looked at my sources for the Prussian MVK, Bavarian GTM, Saxon GSHM, Wurttemberg GMVM & Badelonian (just made that up...) K-F Sliver MVM and found estimates of awards at 1770, 1004, 150, 2402 & 1282 respectively for the Great War.

    Considering the nominal sizes of the contingents of each I conclude that the GSHM is an excellent match. GTM was over done by a factor of about 3 but still reasonable. The Wurttember & Baden awards do not appear to be legitimate equivalents "by the numbers". My information is based on a quick survey of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 6th volumes of the O'Connor series.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Bob - that is a plant called rue. It is a small shrubby plant.

    The Rue Crown is associated with the Kingdom of Saxony and it is depicted as a caplet on the arms of that kingdom.

    The Order of the Rue Crown is the house order of the Wettin family - the former rulers of Saxony.

    As an aside, the collar of The Most ancient Order of the Thistle is composed of thistles and sprigs of rue.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now
    • Create New...

    Important Information

    We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.