Germany to introduce military medal for gallantry

7th March 2008, Comments 2 comments

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

2 Comments To This Article

  • albrecht posted:

    on 7th March 2008, 18:58:23 - Reply

    Why not initiate the Iron Cross and Blue Max (a great movie with George Peppard by the way)? Why must all of Germanic history always be viewed through the national socialist lense for all enternity? Other countries have had dispicable and genocidal leaders and have had societies that participated in wars, mass murder, and hysteria and they have kept institutions, awards, and the like. The national socialists used, and corrupt, valid symbols that were in use by Germans, and others, for centuries. Now they cannot be used due to 'sensitivity' and due to the internal punishment, often self-inflicted, of the Germans due to the awful acts in the 30's and 40's. Maybe we should ban German as it remind people of Nazis also?
  • John posted:

    on 7th March 2008, 12:09:00 - Reply

    The Iron cross was designed by Schinkel in April 1813. The Nazis bastardised it. Prior to that the highest award for valour in Germany was the Pour le Merit also known as the Blue Max.