Order of Merit of the Prussian Crown, Military Division, Small Cross Decoration (with swords)
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This Order was instituted by King Wilhelm II to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was awarded in recognition of exceptional civil and military merit. It was determined that an Order between the Black Eagle and the Red Eagle was necessary to create a fairer gradation of awards. The King’s will was passed to the General Order Commission, which ordered a sample copy from the manufacturer and court jeweller Godet and Sons.
The awards for military merit feature crossed swords through the centre of the cross, while the awards for civil merit do not feature crossed swords.
The Order was conferred in a single class and it consisted of a Cross and a Breast Star. Due to the position of the Order, there were extensive regulations regarding the proper wearing of the decorations. If a Grand Cross bearer of the red Eagle Order received the Order of Merit of the Prussian Crown, he was to remove the Red Eagle Order and wear the Cross of the Order en sautoir on a narrower ribbon, etc.
In 1905, it was stated by the King that Knights of the Order of the Black Eagle were allowed to wear the cross of the Order of Merit in addition to the chain on special occasions.
The Order was only awarded 54 times before it was discontinued in 1918. Following the death of the recipient, the decorations were to be returned to the General Order Commission.
The inscription “GOTT MIT UNS” translates to “God with us”.
In 1914, the Small decoration was introduced. Following this, the Knights of the order were allowed to wear a smaller decoration according to the prescribed pattern at the level of the order on the overcoat, hunting uniform, etc. However, these decorations had to be procured by the knights by their own funds.
This Decoration features a smaller version of the Order Cross on a triangular ribbon, and the ribbon is decorated with a miniature version of the Order Breast Star.
The Small Decoration was worn as a less formal version of the Order grades.
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