Red Cross Decoration, Part III

Introduction:

In this blog I am going to discuss the Red Cross Decoration (Ehrenzeichen vom Roten Kreuz), officer cross with war decoration in some detail. Readers may wish to review the previous blogs I have published on the Red Cross Merit Star and Red Cross Decoration first class prior to reading this one. The previous blog titles are Red Cross Decoration; Part I and Part II. Reading this blog may help to place this discussion in context.

Decoration Numismatics:

Date Issued:  The Red Cross Officer Decoration, Officer Cross was authorized on July 22, 1915 and was issued until 1918.

Reason Issued:  This decoration was issued for meritorious service in support of the Red Cross, in time of war.  The insignia with war decoration was an award for actions in support of the humane efforts of the Red Cross.

Classes:  The Red Cross decoration was originally issued in three classes with the Officer Class being added in 1915 to make the decoration a 4 class award.

  • Red Cross Merit Star with and without war decoration
  • Red Cross Decoration First Class with and without war decoration
  • Red Cross Officer Cross with war decoration (July 22, 1915-1918)
  • Red Cross Decoration Second Class with and without war decoration

Interesting Facts:

  • Emperor Franz Joseph was the Proprietor of the Red Cross and thus of the Red Cross Decoration
  • The Officer Cross could be authorized by the Acting Patron of the Red Cross: General of Cavalry Archduke Franz Salvator von Habsburg
  • The Officer Cross which was created on July 22, 1915 was the only Red Cross decoration which was only issued for merit, and thus all awards were issued with the war decoration. The officer cross  was intended primarily for officers at the rank of colonel and above and/or Military Physicians. It was rarely awarded to women. It could be awarded to foreigners
  • Award Diplomas for the officer decoration and second class were signed by the Acting Patron: General of Cavalry Archduke Franz Salvator von Habsburg.

Hallmarks: 

  • The Vinc Mayor and Sons hallmark
  • The Rothe & Neffe hallmark
  • The hallmark of G.A. Scheid
  • The hallmark of the Vienna Assay Office
  • The 1872-1922, 900 fine silver hallmark
  • The 1872– 1922, 800 fine silver hallmark

Design: A silver and enamel Latin cross

Figure 1: Red Cross Officer Decoration, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

Figure 1: Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross, obverse. Image courtesy of Dorotheum.

Obverse

Red Cross Decoration Officer Cross with war decoration (Figure 1): A silver Latin cross with chased edges.  Inside the edge of the cross is a 2 mm wide band of opaque white enamel.  Inside the white portion of the cross is the body of the cross, which is enameled transparent red.  A fine chased line of silver separates the white and red portions of the cross.  In the center of the cross is a circle of silver edged transparent red enamel in which is inscribed in silver letters PATRIAE AC HVMANITATI (Patriotism and Humanity).  Inside the circle is a silver edged transparent red enameled Geneva cross on a white opaque enameled background.  Attached to the arms of the cross is an enameled wreath.  It is composed of oak leaves on the viewers left and laurel on the right.  The wreath is tied at the bottom with a silver bow.  The wreath is enameled transparent green with red berries.

Figure 2: Red Cross Officer Cross, reverse. I(mage from the author's archive.

Figure 2: Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross, reverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Reverse:

Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross (Figure 2): A plain silver Latin cross with the dates 1864 and 1914 engraved on the transverse arms.  The vertical arms of the cross have a curved attachment clasp attached to each.  The reverse center is a 17 mm round silver button. The reveres of the attached wreath is plain silver.

Weight:

  • Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross with war decoration = 33 grams

Size:

  • Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross with war decoration = 57 mm in length and 47 mm in width. The crosses are 8 mm thick.

Type of Material: Silver and enamel

Manufacturer:

  • Vinc Mayor and sons
  • A. Scheid
  • F. Rothe and Neffe

Variations:

  • Type I: as described above
  • Type II (Figure 3): as described above on the obverse. However the reverse is as follows: A plain silver Latin cross. The upper arm of the cross has a wide pin for attaching the cross to the tunic and the lower arm a curved eye.  In the center of the cross is a 17 mm silver edged center medallion composed of a silver edged circle of transparent red enamel with a white enameled center medallion on which are the dates 1864 and 1914, in silver, one above the other The reveres of the attached wreath is silver.
Figure 3: Red Cross Officer Cross, Type II reverse. Image form the author's archive.

Figure 3: Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross, Type II reverse. Image from the author’s archive.

Number Issued: Unknown to the author

Case (Figure 4-5): Case for the officer cross is rectangular red simulated leather or red cloth covered on the top and sepia on the bottom. They are fitted inside with a plush simulated velvet interior which may be either black or white. The interior of the lid is white satin and often has the maker’s logo. They have an inscription on the top: (Patriae/ ac /Humanitati/ 1864-1914). Translation: Patriotism and humanity 1864-1914. Those for badges with the war decoration also have the letters K.D. in below the inscription.

Figure 4: Red Cross Officer Cross case, exterior. Image form the author's archive.

Figure 4: Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross case, exterior. Image from the author’s archive.

Figure 5: Red Cross Officer Cross case, interior. Image form the author's archive.

Figure 5: Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross case, interior. Image from the author’s archive.

Ribbon: The Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross was a pin back award and thus did not have a ribbon. However a small rectangular ribbon for this decoration which could be  issued with a small attachment to indicate the award of the Officer Cross  was introduced in October 27,1917.

Figure 6: Red Cross Ribbon with attachment. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 6: Red Cross Ribbon with attachment. Image from the author’s archive.

Some notable recipients of the Red Cross Decoration,  Officer Cross:

  • The first 11 decorations were awarded on July, 23, 1915. The recipients were:
    • Major-General Artur Edller von Mecenseffy, Colonel of the General Staff,
    • Hermann Leidl, General in Chief 3rd Army Eastern Theater of Operations Headquarters,
    • Fran Honigschmid, General in Chief 4th Army Easter Theater of Operations Headquarters,
    • Oberststabsarzten 1st class, Dr. Gottlieb Arnstein, Medical Commander XVth Corp,
    • Eduard Lang, Medical Commander XIIIth Corp,
    • Alexander Majewsk, Medical Commander 8th Group Eastern theater of Operations Headquarters ,
    • Adelbert Pausz, Medical Commander IVth Corp,
    • Johann Vlcek, Korps Medical Commander,
    • Gustav Weil, Medical Commander XVIth Corp
    • Oberstabsarzt 2nd class, Dr. Julius Reich, Corp Medical Commander
    • Stabsarzt Dr. Emil Hochmann, Medical Advisor of the Headquarters of the Southwest Front
  • The first awards of the officer Cross to women was on December 23, 1915 to Nadine Countess Berchtold, and to Hedda Freiin von Skoda

Award Certificates:

Award certificates were issued with the Red Cross Decoration Officer Cross

Figure 7: Feldmarschalleutnant Geza Lukacich von Somorja wearing the Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross. Image from the author's archive.

Figure 7: Feldmarschalleutnant Geza Lukacich von Somorja wearing the Red Cross Decoration, Officer Cross. Image from the author’s archive.

I hope you enjoyed this discussion. Soon I will describe the Red Cross Decoration, second class

Rick

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