Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Some Facts About the German Iron Cross

1914 Iron Cross, 1st Class

  • The award was created on 20 March 1813, when a new medal was instituted to commemorate the start of the war against Napoleon. 

  • The new medal was designed by noted architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. 

  • Three grades of the medal were instituted, the Grosskreuz (Grand Cross) for senior commanders; and the 1 Klasse (1st Class), and 2 Klasse (2nd Class), for individual merit in combat. 

  • The Iron Cross was intended to be awarded only in times of war. 

  • Generally one had to have previously been awarded the 2nd class medal, before the 1st class medal was awarded. 

  • On 5 August 1914, the Iron Cross was re-instituted for the new war and "1914" was embossed on the medal. 

Early Recipient of 1914 Iron Cross

  • The construction of the 1914 medal is a blackened or lacquered iron center set in a silver frame. The reverse side is plain silver, with a silver pin on a vertical hinge. It is about 42mm (1 3/4") in size. The medal is worn on the left side, about 2" above the belt.

  • Adolph Hitler received the Iron Cross, both 1st and 2nd class, for his service in the Great War.

  • A precise count of the number of medals awarded is impossible to verify today, as the Prussian Army records were destroyed in the bombing of WWII. Estimates vary between 1.5 and 5 million.

For more details read Ralph Reiley's full article at our Trenches on the Web site:

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