Iron Cross 1914, Grand Cross Breast Star
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The Iron Cross was a military decoration founded by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and it was awarded for acts of heroism, bravery and exemplary leadership, regardless of rank or status.
The Cross was primarily a military decoration, yet on numerous occasions it was awarded to civilians for services rendered to the military. The concept was originally conceived in 1806, and finally confirmed in mid February of 1813.
The design of the Cross was inspired by the Cross pattée, which was used as a symbol of the Teutonic Order, as well as the Prussian Army from 1871 to 1918.
The Order consisted of three grades, I Class Cross, II Class Cross and Grand Cross. The I and II Class are largely the same in size and composition. The Grand Cross was double the size of the former.
The I and II Class Crosses were worn on the left breast (II Class with a ribbon), and the Grand Cross was worn suspended from the neck. The II Class must be awarded prior to the I Class being awarded.
The Cross was first awarded in recognition of exemplary military and civil service during the Napoleonic Wars. These crosses, awarded between 1813-1815 are often referred to as Model I.
Model III of the Decoration was awarded during the First World War (1914), and subsequent versions were awarded during World War II and featured a swastika in the center of the obverse.
When war broke out in August 1914, the Iron Cross was renewed, linking the grave situation of affairs to the heroic deeds of 1813 and 1870. Commanding generals had the right to reward acts of bravery in the name of the King. The Iron Cross was used as a national emblem on aircrafts, captive balloons, airships and armoured cars. Foreigners (allies of Germany) were awarded with Iron Crosses, which did not have to be approved.
The Cross itself remains largely unchanged since its inception in 1813. The date on the obverse was changed to 1914 located under the crowned W. The Iron Cross with Golden Rays was renewed in March 1918 for Generalfeld Marshal von Hindenburg. Godet was the manufacturer of the cross.
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