Many countries lost hundreds of thousands of men during WW1. Due to this, population was quite low and many countries tried to encourage women to bear and raise a high number of children. One of the ways to do this was to award them with a medal for their efforts. France, the Soviet Union and Germany all had awards for mothers but today we will look at the German Mother’s Cross in detail and will show a few examples currently for sale online.
The Mother’s Cross – officially Cross of Honour of the German Mother – was a medal given to mothers of 4 or more children, who were also deemed to be worthy of acknowledgement and praise. A state official, for example the mayor, would have to nominate the mother, and the process was a lengthy one. There were many hoops to jump through to prove she was an exemplary German woman, raising exemplary German children.
The 3rd class of the Mother’s Cross was the Bronze Award. This was issued to women with 4 or 5 children but only live births counted. Furthermore, the baby had to be healthy so they wouldn’t become what was deemed a burden to the state. Having a child with genetic conditions or other disabilities would have meant the whole family itself came under scrutiny.
This example is for sale from Kriegsmarine Plus for £80. It was made by the maker ‘Jakob Bengal’ and the award comes in its original packet and with its ribbon.
After having and raising 6 or 7 children, the mother was eligible for the Silver Class of this award. This looked exactly the same as the bronze award, except for the middle metal detailing around the swastika, which in this case was silver, not bronze. The outline of the Nazi symbol was also in silver.
Apart from the number of children, every nominee for a Mother’s Cross – no matter which class – had to prove she was worthy of the award. Both the mother and her husband needed to be of pure German bloodline, leading up to their own grandparents. They both needed to be healthy genetically as well as morally reputable. If either of them spent time in prison for example, the mother was not eligible for the award. She was further scrutinised to make sure she was of good standing; if she was deemed promiscuous, had an abortion, had an interracial relationship or cheated on her husband, these were all excluding factors.
This example of the Silver Award is available from Trophies of War for £65. It doesn’t come with a ribbon, box or packet but it is a nice, clean example of the actual medal, which is rare to find these days. The enamel is in good condition and the engraving on the back is clear. All medals were inscribed with the date ’16th of December 1938′ and Hitler’s signature. This was because he decreed the introduction of the Mother’s Cross on this date.
Miniature Silver Cross
There were many perks that came with having a Mother’s Cross. These women were deemed to be outstanding members of society and commanded respect. Queuing in shops and standing on a bus became a thing of the past. They were treated with the utmost respect and received the best of everything; the best house, the best clothes and the best schools for their numerous children.
Wearing their treasured medal out and about in everyday life was a bit tricky though, because of course they wanted to preserve it and keep it safe. And the original ribbon that came with it was rather long, which made it quite impractical for the wearer, especially when looking after so many children! So instead, many women chose to wear the miniature version of their medal. This could be purchased privately from state-approved jewellers.
This silver miniature Mother’s Cross is for sale at Regimentals for £65. It’s a great example, complete with its blue and white ribbon. The enamel on the medal is undamaged and the maker’s mark on the reverse of the award is L11.
Finally, the 3rd class of the Mother’s Cross was the golden award. This again, looked exactly like the other variations, except for the colour being gold instead of silver or bronze. The dark blue colour of the cross matches the other two awards.
To receive this, a woman had to have had 8 or more children. Much like with all the other awards, mothers also had to meet many other criteria. This was the most prestigious of the Mother’s Cross medals, and it is the rarest due to not being given out to as many women as the other two.
World Military Collectables in the UK has this lovely, boxed example for sale for £95. The case also has a golden Mother’s Cross outline on the front. It has some scuffs but the medal itself is in beautiful, clean condition and is complete with its original ribbon.
There were plans for a gold Mother’s Cross with diamonds for having 16 children, but whether any were actually produced and issued is a very debatable subject. A mother was rumoured to have received one in Dresden and in 2013 one such example sold in the US for around $3,000 but its authenticity remains a mystery.
In total, approximately 4.7 million women were awarded a Mother’s Cross by 1941. However, the archives were mostly destroyed towards the end of the war, so it is extremely difficult to estimate the total number. Much like all other Third Reich items, many of these were probably disposed of after the war, especially since wearing anything containing a swastika out in public in Germany became illegal in 1957. So, much like any other item from that period, these awards are also becoming rarer to find.
Interested in other German awards? CLICK HERE
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