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Iron cross

Article about: Hi everyone, A story I was told today has brought me here. My kids went searching through their nanna's bags and came across a Iron Cross. I was handed the cross and told that there has long

  1. #1
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    Default Iron cross

    Hi everyone,
    A story I was told today has brought me here.

    My kids went searching through their nanna's bags and came across a Iron Cross. I was handed the cross and told that there has long been unrest in the family about this cross.

    During WW1 my husbands great grandfather had taken it off a soldier who he had killed. (It's not something easily said, but is a sad fact of war).
    There has been unrest as to the existence of this as many feel that this should be returned to the soldiers family. However, sadly the war was almost 100 years ago and without knowing details of where the attack took place, and no numbers or inscriptions on the cross this is most likely never to occur.
    I would just like to ask you all 2 questions in relation to this.

    1. The cross is the Iron Cross dated 1914. How do you tell the differences in the crosses ie: 1st class/2nd class ?

    2. Is there anyway possible of trying to locate the original recipient's family? (Something which I see as an impossibility).

    This is the cross in it's poorly state as it sits today.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Iron cross

    bree, first welcome to the Forum ! your Iron Cross is a good original second class version as it sports a suspension ring for the attachment of a ribbon, the award in 2nd guise was worn suspended from a bar and was only worn for ceremonial occasions along with any other medals the wearer had recieved, however the ribbon was displayed at all times, sewn diagonally from the second buttonhole on the wearers tunic. The difference between the second and first class (other than requirements in order to recieve the award) are that the first class was a pin back award with only the face being endowed with the crown/date/"W" and the raised framework, its back being entirely flat with a hinge and pin assembly. You usually won the second class first and then the first class next, the first class being worn/pinned to the left breast at all times. As far as tracing the award, that will be impossible i am afraid, they are not marked with the recipients name (unlike British WW1 medals) and with 3,803,384 second class Iron Crosses awarded, the task would be impossible. I can see a small mark on the suspension ring of your cross, is it a letter of the alphabet or number ? if so this is a makers mark and we may be able to identify the manufacturer of the medal. Any idea where the medal was taken at the front ? Thanks for showing. I show a couple of photographs of the Iron Cross first class (front & back) and the second class with its ribbon and method of wear on a bar (the top cross in this photo is a WW2 version), you can obtain a replacment ribbon.
    Prost ! Steve.
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    "The German Army is the perfectly adapted, perfectly running Machine. The difference is that the Germans are organised with a view to War...with the cold, hard, practical and business-like purpose of winning victories."
    G.W. Steevens - The Daily Mail (1897)

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Iron cross

    Thank you for the information Steve.
    I didn't even notice the mark on the ring until I looked at the photo's . I will try and find out some more information today in regards to where on the front and have a closer look at the ring.

    Thank you once again.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Iron cross

    Welcome to the forum bree. Steve has pretty much summed it up in his post above and I can't really add more to it. It is a sad fact that these medals were awarded and there's no way of knowing who it belonged to unless it came in a grouping of other ephemera such as paperwork/paybooks/documents pertaing to the original recipient.
    Although it might not sit comfortably in your family, I hope that knowing it can't be returned may bring some closure to the understandable unrest and the medal can be retained as a small memory of the Great Grandfather who obtained it.

    One more thing to mention and it is worth saying, it is possible the story relating to the medal being taken from a German soldier may well have suffered from an amount of embellishment over the years. I'm certainly not saying it isn't true but from experience, this can happen. The Iron Cross 2nd class was very rarely worn in combat as just the ribbon was sewn to the tunic and the medal was usually kept in barracks, sent home, put with other personal possessions, made into a parade mount on a best uniform or it may have been in a tunic pocket etc etc.
    There are many many possibilities of how the Great Grandfather came to be in possession of the medal including taking it from a dead soldier but it is worth bearing in mind how family 'legends' can be made 'better' over time.
    I don't mean to cause any offence by the above but it might put the family unrest into context and I hope the cross stays in your family for a long time.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Iron cross

    Bree, Adrian is quite right with his above post...By the way leave the Cross as it is, dont attempt to clean it !
    Prost ! Steve.
    "The German Army is the perfectly adapted, perfectly running Machine. The difference is that the Germans are organised with a view to War...with the cold, hard, practical and business-like purpose of winning victories."
    G.W. Steevens - The Daily Mail (1897)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Iron cross

    Thank you both for you insightfulness. It will put to rest a few ghosts I think.

    I am going to get a case for it to sit in rather than what it has been stored in.

    I have not been able to find any more information in regards to where it was taken from. My mother in law was told the story from her father. It was her father's father that came to be in possession of it. There is no one still around to ask that had heard the story first hand.

    I have been having a look at the ring through a magnifying glass and the mark appears to be the letter r with a triangle below to the right appearing to be pointing at it. Not sure what that means. I didn't bring my good camera to get a closeup photo of it.

    Thanks again

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Iron cross

    I am actually wondering after looking at this with the magnifying glass a bit longer if it is actually a G marking. If I turn it upside down to how I was looking at it and on an angle it looks like it could possibly have been a G not stamped correctly. It doesn't appear to have been worn down on the inside of the ring as there is well defined edges to the marking. So it is either the r with the triangle or the G not stamped correctly. I will try and get clearer, closer photos over the next few days to clarify the markings.

    Thanks
    Bree

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Iron cross

    If it helps you to compare Bree, here is a 'G' marked cross from my collection. The 'G' stands for Godet, arguably one of the premier manufacturers of German decorations.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Iron cross

    Thank you Adrian,
    however now I am more unsure as to the mark on it. It looks nothing similar to yours.
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    All opinions on this mark would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Bree

  10. #10

    Default Re: Iron cross

    the mark on the ring looks like a lightly struck "G" for Godet

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