Germany to introduce military medal for gallantry
Minister denies that it is a revival of the Iron Cross.
Berlin - - Germany is to introduce a bravery medal for its soldiers in a move that Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung denied was a revival of the Iron Cross military decoration.
Jung said the German armed forces "served the cause of peace" and it was important to honor troops who risked their lives in the call of duty.
Unlike in other NATO members, no gallantry medals have been awarded in the German military since the end of World War II. Instead there are medals for length of service and for each tour of duty abroad lasting more than 30 days.
The respected daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that Jung was weighing up giving new life to 195-year Iron Cross tradition initiated by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1813.
But Jung's spokesman said that, while the minister backed establishing a decoration for military bravery, there was no thought of reviving the Iron Cross, in the past purely a wartime decoration.
Spokesman Thomas Raabe said no decision had been taken on the design of the new medal of honor. The medals awarded for long service are similar in form to the Iron Cross.
The FAZ reported the Iron Cross suggestion had originated with the head of the voluntary reserves, Colonel Ernst-Reinhard Beck, who had pointed to dangerous deployments undertaken by the German defense force, the Bundeswehr, in countries like Afghanistan.
Beck had acknowledged that the decoration had negative associations linked to its use by the Hitler regime in World War II, the FAZ said.
But he had argued for a broader view, taking in the longer tradition of the decoration, noting that it was Germany's first military honor that paid no heed to social rank.
The FAZ described the Iron Cross - which harks back to the crosses used by the knights of the German military orders in mediaeval times - as linked to the national democratic aspirations of Prussia in its conflict with Napoleonic France.
The Nazis had abused it by placing a swastika in the middle, it said.
DPA with Expatica