The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918

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The Honour Cross of World War I (Hindenburg Cross)
File:Übersicht Ehrenkreuze.JPG
Honour Crosses for Non-combatants, Combatants, and Next-of-Kin. They have the Austrian-style trifold ribbon arrangement.
Awarded by Nazi Germany
Type World War I Service Medal
Eligibility All German & Austrian World War I participants or their next of kin
Status Obsolete
Last awarded 1944
Total awarded 8,041,414

The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (German language: Das Ehrenkreuz des Weltkriegs 1914/1918), commonly, but incorrectly, known as the Hindenburg Cross.

To commemorate the distinguished deeds of the German people during WWI, the Reichspräsident, Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg, established through the order of 13 July 1934, the "Honour Cross for Participants in the World War 1914/1918" and for the Next-Of-Kin. This was Germany's first official service medal for soldiers of Imperial Germany who participated in World War I. It was also the first decoration created by the Third Reich.

The Honour Cross was awarded in three forms:

  • DEU Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges Frontkaempfer BAR.svg
    - for front-line veterans with swords
  • DEU Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges Kriegsteilnehmer BAR.svg
    - for war participant’s veterans without swords
  • DEU Ehrenkreuz des Weltkrieges Hinterbliebene BAR.svg
    - for widows and parents of fallen war participants (surviving dependants) without swords.[1]

The cross was patterned after the reverse of the War Commemorative Medal of 1870/71 (Preußen Kriegsdenkmünze 1870-1871). The Honour Cross awarded to combatants (Frontkämpferkreuz) shows a laurel wreath circling the centre medallion with the years 1914 1918. Crossed swords are between the arms, while the Honour Cross for Non-Combatants has no swords and has a wreath of oakleaves. Both crosses are bronze. The Honour Cross for Next-of-Kin (which is commonly known as the Widows Cross), is black. The Honour Cross is worn suspended from a ribbon with black edges, two white stripes and a centre red stripe. The ribbon for the Honour Cross for Next-of-Kin is reversed, having a white edge, with two black stripes and a centre red stripe. These were frequently worn with the ribbon fashioned into a bow, with a pin on the back, that the mother or widow attached to her clothing. The application for this award had a time limit, which expired by the end of 1942. Each award came with an Urkunde, or certificate, which indicated what form the award was. The certificates for next-of-kin came in two types, for widows it was titled Ehrenkreuz für Witwen, and for parents, Ehrenkreuz für Eltern. These were dated and signed, usually by the local police chief or mayor. The number of awards given was:

  • for combatants 6,202,883
  • for non-combatants 1,120,449
  • for widows 345,132
  • for parents 372,950
  • total 8,041,414

By the decree of 30 November 1938, the State Minister of the Interior introduced these awards into the Ostmark (Austria's name after it was incorporated into the Third Reich) and Sudeten (Czechoslovakia) German regions. The implementation for the awarding of this cross to war participants of German heritage from the east and west regions reclaimed by the Third Reich, came after applications had closed in Germany proper by the end of 1942. These were awarded apparently as late as 1944. For all attached military personnel outside these regions, the Führer, through the ordinance of 30 June 1942, had already ordered approval of these awards.


Doehle, Dr Heinrich (1943). Die Auszeichnungen Des Großdeutschen Reichs. Berlin, Germany: Berlin-Buch und Periodical Press. ISBN 0-9624883-4-8CITEREFDoehle1943. 

  1. For the next of kin (widows and parents), of those who died in battle or as a result of wounds received in battle or having died in captivity or missing in action. "About: The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 

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