by Sebastián Bianchi

The War Merit Cross 1st Class, as it would follow for a higher decoration, was not as liberally awarded and was therefore more respected.  This was also the grade presented to factories and other wartime production companies that significantly surpassed production quotas.  The badge was displayed in the form of a banner.

Sebastián Bianchi Collection

Technical Information

The obverse of the Cross was exactly alike in design and proportions to the 2nd Class, this being the center rotating swastika with the arms featuring thin smooth edges and pebbled center.  The reverse was flat with only a pin and hinge system not unlike that of the Iron Cross 1st Class, with the manufacturer mark, if any, usually stamped on the pin.  Some privately sold crosses were fitted with a screw back system which provided a great level of security.  In this case the mark was stamped on the cross itself.   In the case of the combatant version, a pair of military swords finished on both sides were fitted between the arms of the Cross.

Both divisions of the award were die struck and constructed in zinc with was a silver-plating, though it can very rarely be found made of 800-grade solid silver.  It was made from lower grade materials toward the latter war years, and as a result the plating on them eventually wore off yielding a gray appearance.  As with all German awards, it maintained the high standard of detail until the end.  As with the Iron Cross, recipients were free to purchase an official LDO copy of the award.

Presentation, Wear and Documents

The War Merit Cross 1st Class was permanently worn on the left tunic pocket, no dress down version was provided for it.  In case both the combatant and non-combatant versions were bestowed on an individual, only the grade with swords was to be worn.

The documents that accompanied were standard, featuring the name, rank and unit of the recipient with the appropriate signatures.  The proper annotations were made into the Soldbuch and Wehrpass as well.

The Cross was normally presented in a black simulated leather case with the award imprinted on the outside lid.  It could also be also presented a paper envelope with the name printed in gothic scrip.

A cased War Merit Cross by the firm of Klein & Quenzer, in the last photo with its close relative the Iron Cross.

Sebastián Bianchi Collection


An Unmarked War Merit Cross without Swords

Sebastián Bianchi Collection

Award Criteria and Statistics


The War Merit Cross 1st Class without Swords was presented for meritorious service or courage in furtherance of the war effort.   It was also presented to diplomats, camp guards and other personalities whose actions were seen as having a significant effect on the war effort.  The War Merit Cross with Swords was presented to military personnel for courage and achievements (which needed not occur while facing the enemy). The number of awards presented follows;

War Merit Cross without Swords; 91,239
War Merit Cross with Swords; 483,603



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