Store: German Items: #1002 War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords 1939

#1002 German War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords: It is a very good well kept medal, in used but unmarked condition. It has a nice light patina and there are a few tarnish marks to the swords and cross. This is a common medal and as far as I am aware has not been faked yet! It is a great starter for the German WW2 Medal Collector.

Information on the War Merit Cross(Kriegsverdienstkreuz): This award was created by Adolf Hitler in 1939 as a successor to the non-combatant Iron Cross which was used in earlier wars (same medal but with a different ribbon). The award was graded the same as the Iron Cross: War Merit Cross Second Class, War Merit Cross First Class, and Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross.

The award had two variants: with swords given to soldiers for exceptional service in battle above and beyond the call of duty (but not worthy of an Iron Cross which was more a bravery award), and without swords for meritorious service behind the lines which could also be awarded to civilians. Recipients had to have the lower grade of the award before getting the next level. There was also another version below the 2nd class simply called the War Merit Medal (German: Kriegsverdienstmedaille), set up in 1940 for civilians in order to offset the large number of 2nd class without swords being awarded. It was usually given to those workers in factories who significantly exceeded work quotas.

A tradition was set up that winners of the Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross would be awarded the medal by winners of the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, symbolizing the link between the combat soldier and their supporters who helped keep the war effort going.

There was one extra grade of the War Merit Cross, which was created at the suggestion of Albert Speer: The Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross in Gold, but this was never officially placed on the list of national awards as it came about in 1945 and there was no time to officially promugate the award before the war ended. The Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross in Gold (without swords) was awarded to two recipients on 20 April 1945: Franz Hahne and Karl Saur.

The ribbon of the War Merit Cross was in red-white-black-white-red; that was, the red and black colors being reversed from the ribbon of the World War II version of the Iron Cross.

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