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Prussian Iron Cross

Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum Online Book
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Date added: 4 Apr 2017

Prussia Iron Cross

On 17 March 1813, Frederick William III established the military decoration of the Iron Cross, backdated to 10 March, late Queen Louise's birthday. The Iron Cross was awarded to soldiers during the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon.

The Iron Cross is a black four-pointed cross with silver trim, with the arms widening toward the ends, similar to a cross pattée; it reflects the cross borne by the Teutonic Knights in the 14th century. The ribbon for the 1813 Iron Cross (2nd Class) was black with two thin white bands, the colours of Prussia.

The 1813 Iron Cross had three grades:
Iron Cross 2nd Class
        (German: Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse, or EKII)
Iron Cross 1st Class
        (German: Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse, or EKI)
Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
        (German: Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, often simply Großkreuz)

The Iron Cross 1st Class and the Iron Cross 2nd Class were awarded without regard to rank. One had to possess the 2nd Class already in order to receive the 1st Class (though in some cases both could be awarded simultaneously). The egalitarian nature of this award contrasted with those of most other German states (and indeed many other European monarchies), where military decorations were awarded based on the rank of the recipient.
The Grand Cross was intended for senior generals of the Prussian Army.

Although the medals of each class were identical, the manner in which each was worn differed. Employing a pin or screw posts on the back of the medal, the Iron Cross 1st Class was worn on the left side of the recipient's uniform. The Grand Cross and the Iron Cross 2nd Class were suspended from different ribbons; the 2nd Class on the left breast; the larger Grand Cross was worn from around the neck.

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