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A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

Article about: The Iron Cross is without a doubt the most recognized military decoration in history. Additionally, it is one of the most collectable. Engraved examples that can be connected to a particular

  1. #1
    Luther
    ?

    Default A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

    The Iron Cross is without a doubt the most recognized military decoration in history. Additionally, it is one of the most collectable. Engraved examples that can be connected to a particular person, place or time are especially desirable.

    However, there is always the issue of whether or not the engraving is authentic. When a collector purchases an engraved Iron Cross they must take a "leap of faith" as to its authenticity. Those crosses engraved out of absolute greed typically include a name (usually an officer), a well-recognized and/or distinguished unit, and a date during a major battle. The example covered here is only engraved with a date - and a very obscure one at that. Since this cross is engraved only with a date, and is adorned with correct "old style" German engraving, I am of the opinion that it is authentic.

    Attached are photos of a 1914 Eisernz Kreuz 1st Klass. On its reverse is engraved in the old German style - "Lodz, der 27 Januar, 1915." The date is so esoteric that it adds relatively little to the decoration's monetary value, but adds greatly to its historic value.

    Keep in mind that we are dealing with “probabilities” in this analysis as to why the cross was awarded. Furthermore, as we all know, the recipient will never be known without definitive evidence.

    The recipient of the cross was very likely a member of the Ninth Army under General MacKensen positioned at Lodz, Poland. Additional research can further refine this to some of the units actually positioned at Lodz in January 1915.

    The second Battle of Lodz had just ended in mid-December of 1914 and the German army occupied the city. German forces - the IX Army - were stationed in areas surrounding Lodz and remained in direct contact with Russian forces. Despite the fact that there was no major battle during January, 1915, there were nevertheless continual actions and exchanges between the Austrians, Germans and Russians all long the lines.

    What follows below is from NavalHistory.net:

    "In January 1915 German General Hindenburg pushed for a strategy of victory in the East, and in mid-month the Kaiser agreed to send four new German corps to reinforce the Eastern front. Hindenburg and the Austrian Conrad were to launch separate offensives from East Prussia and the Carpathians. German forces included the new Tenth Army (Gen von Eichhorn) on the northern flank of East Prussia, further south the Eighth Army (Gen von Below), and Ninth Army (Mackensen) on the southern flank of the German line opposite Warsaw. Here they joined the Austrians - from north to south, the Second, First, Fourth, Third and Second Armies. Russian forces consisted of the Tenth Army in the north just across the East Prussian border, the new Twelfth forming northeast of Warsaw, and the First and Second around Warsaw - all facing the Germans. Opposing the Austrians were the Fifth, Fourth, Ninth, Third, Eighth and Eleventh Armies.

    Hindenburg's first aim was to destroy the Russian's northern Tenth Army and one of the main railway lines to Warsaw. On the 31st, to cover movements of Ninth Army elements, Mackensen attacked the Polish town of Bolimov on the railway line between Lodz and Warsaw. In the first "large-scale" use of gas in the war, tear gas shells were employed, but with limited effect. Their use was not reported to the Western Allies."

    What follows next is my analysis:

    It is likely that, since the Bolimov action occurred only four days after 27 Januar, the recipient of the Eisernz Kreuz was involved in a distinguished “pre-action” exchange with Russian forces, ramp-up maneuvers involving significant risk, or outstanding leadership of forces connected to the Bolimov attack.

    A superb example of the 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class that is anchored to a historically significant date and place.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  2. #2
    Luther
    ?

    Default Re: A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

    Based on thorough research, it appears that the usual custom during the WWI era was to engrave a decoration with the date that it was awarded, not received.

    Therefore, here, I make the assumption that the date of 27, Januar, 1915 signifies the date that the decoration was earned, not awarded. It is almost a certainty that the recipient received his Eisernz Kreuz 1st Klass after 27, Januar, 1915, but commemorated that date by having the EK privately engraved.

    If he received the decoration on January 27th, that would strongly suggest that he earned it during the second Battle of Lodz. If that were the case, then he would have engraved it with a date between November 11th and December 6th, 1914.

    While the above can not be absolutely ascertained, I think it is the most logical explanation for the engraved date.

  3. #3

    Default Re: A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

    Nice EK1

  4. #4
    Luther
    ?

    Default Re: A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

    Hello DUJAILAH,

    I suppose the real point that I'm trying to make here is that, either as the most advanced of collectors or just plain old dabblers, we do not have to spend a fortune on a piece of militaria for it to be historically significant. Moreover, it does not have to be of the utmost rarity to count historically. In fact, quite the contrary is true; many of the less expensive, readily available militaria items teach and tell us more about history than that "once-in-a-lifetime" piece.

    Now, I'll be the first to admit, if I had the cash, then I'd be buying mint 1920s NSDAP cuff-bands at $5000+ each, Coburg Badges, $5000 colar tabs, and the finest SS items. I suppose there's always great fun owning the absolute best, the finest, the superb gems.

    However, the people that I respect the most are those street-wise collectors that have built truly great collections with limited funds. They were patient, took advantage of opportunities as they arose, and made prescient decisions about what to collect. Their good stewards of history.

    Gee, all that from a rather plain 1914 EK-I.

    Best Regards,

  5. #5

    Default Re: A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

    Hi Luther, I couldn't agree more. It's certainly not all about the 'glamour' pieces. I much prefer items with a bit of history behind them. I also collect British WW1 postcards to my local regts. & have been able research many of them using local newspapers & have even being able to name some men in them. The cards aren't as cheap as the used to be; but it's still a relatively inexpensive & more importantly interesting area to collect, Cheers, Richard.

  6. #6
    Luther
    ?

    Default Re: A Russian-Front Engraved 1914 EK 1st Class - Lodz, Poland

    I just realized, 27 Januar 1915 was the Kaiser's 65th birthday!!

    That doesn't change my opinion regarding the authenticity of the engraving.

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