Conservation Culture Other

Medal memory

The Iron Cross after conservation

Finally our medals are conserved and analyzed. One cross is the Iron Cross and the other the Spanish Cross.

The Iron Cross originates in 13th century Kingdom of Jerusalem, when the Teutonic Order was granted the right to combine their Black Cross with the silver Cross of Jerusalem. As a military decoration the Iron Cross have existed since the Kingdom of Prussia and the Napoleonic Wars, but have been recommissioned during the Franco-Prussian War, World War I and World War II. When found it was impossible for us to determine which period this medal was from because of the heavy corrosion.

The Iron Cross under X-Ray where swastika and 1939 can be more clearly viewed

After the conservation it’s clear that our Iron Cross is from World War II – because of the swastika and the year 1939. The World War II Iron Cross was instituted by Hitler on September 1st, 1939, and awarded for bravery in battle as well as other military contributions in a battlefield environment.

The other cross took us more effort to recognize, but eventually it was discovered to be the Spanish Cross. The Spanish Cross was instituted on April 14th, 1939, to recognize the German Forces who served in the Spanish Civil War (July 1936 – March 1939). The Spanish Cross was awarded in three classes, Bronze, Silver and Gold (there was also a special grade of Gold with Diamonds).  The bronzed and silver class came in two categories, with swords (combatant) and without swords (non-combatant). The Gold was awarded only with swords.

The Spanish Cross after conservation

We were hoping that the Spanish Cross would turn out to be the silver version, since it is very rare and only rewarded to 327 people during the civil war. Actually, it was rewarded to a couple of military personal who were later was stationed at the command in Bergenhus and killed there during a bombing in 1944. After closer analysis it turned out to be made of a cobber alloy and thereby proven to be the bronzed version. The bronze without swords was given for “3 months of service in Spain” and awarded to 7.869 individuals – the most common of the Spanish Crosses – and ours is even missing the “swastika-button” in the middle.

The Spanish Cross under X-ray where the hole for the missing “swastika-button” can be viewed.