This replica Iron Cross 2nd Class is approximately 42mm wide, 42mm high.
The obverse has the Imperial Prussian Crown at the 12:00 high position, and the date 1813 at the 6:00 low position. The reverse has the King's crown with W and the date 1914 below that. The Cross was worn looped through a buttonhole on the jacket (typically the buttonhole closest to the heart) or worn on the left breast close to the heart.
This replica would be great for any military reenactor or military history collector. If you have any questions please ask.
In the history of military decorations, few are as simple or striking as the Prussian Eiserne Kreuz (Iron Cross). The award was created in 1813, during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1807 Prussia was defeated by Napoleon, and entered into unwilling subservience to the French. Following Napoleon's retreat from Moscow in December of 1812, the Prussian army, forcibly allied with the French, found an opportunity to change sides, and allied themselves with Russia against France. On March 20, 1813, 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. It was a simple blackened iron cross, with continuous silver trim around the edge. One face had a simple oak leaf sprig in the center, with 1813 on the lower arm, and the Royal Cipher "FW" and a crown in the upper arm, the other face was blank. Until 1838, the blank face was the official front side of the medal, when the practice of wearing the medal with the face bearing the oak leaves outward was approved.
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 size of the 1st and 2nd class awards was about 42mm, and examples range from 28-42mm. The 1st class medal had loops welded to the rear side, so it could be sewn to the tunic. The 2nd class medal was suspended by a ribbon ring attached to an eye welded to the top of the medal. The ribbon was black with two white edge stripes, the state colors of Prussia. A non-combatant version was also issued, it's ribbon was white with two black edge strips. The Grand Cross was a larger version of the award, about 62mm in size. It was worn at the neck and suspended by a wider version of the 2nd class ribbon. Little change would be made to these medals during the following 100 years.
The Iron Cross was intended to be awarded only in times of war. During times of war it was intended to replace other traditional awards as the Rote Adlerorden (Order of the Red Eagle) or the Pour le Mèrite (known as the Blue Max during W.W.1). In practice, all other medals were issued as well as the Iron Cross. One Star to the Grand Cross was awarded to Generalfeldmarschall Blücher, for his part in the victory at Waterloo. This medal, also called the Blücherstern (Blücher Star), was set in the center of a large silver starburst, and it was worn on the chest, over the heart. The Prussians, as well as other European states, had a long tradition of issuing awards in several grades, or class, depending on the military rank and social standing of the recipient.
After Waterloo, in 1815, the Iron Cross would not be awarded again until 1871, just after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. On July 19, 1870 the Iron Cross was instituted, but no medals were issued until after the end of the war. The 1870 Iron Cross was altered to commemorate the recent victory over France. The original medal face, with the 1813 date was retained, but it became the reverse side. The front of the 1870 medal had a crown in the upper arm, the Royal Cipher "W" in the center, and 1870 in the lower arm. The Grand Cross was awarded to nine individuals in 1870, including one for Kaiser Wilhelm I. The Star to the Grand Cross of 1870 was not issued.
In August of 1914, Germany was at war with France once again. On August 5, 1914, the Iron Cross was instituted. It's design was identical to the 1870 medal, with the date changed from 1870 to 1914. The Grand Cross of 1914 was awarded to Kaiser Wilhelm II, Generalfeldmarshall von Hidenburg, General Ludendorf, Generalfeldmarshall Prince Leopold of Bavaria, and Generalfeldmarshall von Mackensen. During the Spring Offensive of 1918, the Kaiser awarded von Hindenburg the only Star to the Grand Cross of 1914.
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