Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Fire Brigade Decoration

Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class.   
Instituted on. 22 December 1936
Rarity – Very Rare.
Known Makers – Unmarked




This decoration comprises of a convexed cross that measures 58.5 mm across and the widths of the arms are 7 mm.  Round the arms of the cross is a 1 mm raised edge line and on to the field produced is the outline of a flame effect.  This is produced by a series of 0.5 mm raised lines.  On each arm is an identical pattern of tongues of flame that lick upwards to the ends of the arms of the cross.  The outer edge of the flames is joined to the flames of the next arm of the cross, forming a continuous line.  The flames are infilled with red opaque enamel that is flush with the top of the lines and the rest of the field of the arms of the cross is infilled to the raised edge line and the continuous outer line of the flames with white opaque enamel.  On to the top of the red enamel, at the centre of the cross, is positioned a button that measures 16.5 mm.  This has a raised edge line and a similar one inset by 1 mm.  The resultant tramline is infilled with black opaque enamel.  On to the central field is positioned a swastika with raised outer edge line with the tips of the arms of the swastika just touching the inside of the inner line of the tramline.  The field of the arms of the swastika are infilled level to the top of the edge line with black opaque enamel and similarly infilled with white opaque enamel is the remaining field. 

Between the arms of the cross is a circle, slightly recessed below the outer edge line, which measures 5 mm and has the inscription, in raised capital letters, 'FüR VERDIENSTE IM FEUERLÖSCHWESEN', which translates to, For Merit in the Fire Brigade Organisation.  The circle has a diameter that measures 44 mm.  The overall colour of the metal parts of the cross is silver with the background to the letters being matt patinated and the surfaces of the letters bright polished silver.  The silver of the arms of the cross is lighter and matt. 

The reverse of the cross is plain, with a light matted silver appearance.  The hinge is made from a piece of metal that has been bent in the middle to hold the pin's cross member.  The hinge has a semi-rounded top and bottom.  The pin has a broad centre that is sometimes referred to as 'bellied', with a rounded end.  The hook has a 'C' form shape and is soldered on to the bottom of the lower arm.  The cross was designed by Herbert Knötel of Berlin.  The badge was worn on the lower left breast of the uniform. 

The cross was introduced on 22 December 1936 by the Minister of the Interior and was to reward those who had performed acts of exceptional meritorious service and included acts of bravery at fires.  A First Class award was automatically bestowed upon a fireman who lost his life in the line of duty. 

There was a more subtle reason for the instigation of the national level award to fire personnel, as this replaced the state awards and brought these important arms of the government under Nazi control.  Recommendation for award of the First Class cross came from the Reichsführer-SS Himmler in his capacity as Chief of the German Police which controlled the fire departments and were approved by the Minister of the Interior.  Hitler retained the right to sign the award document of this class personally.  The cross was accompanied by a citation that is unknown.  However it is believed to be similar to the Second Class document described.  The cross was presented in a hard case with an exterior of black pebbled simulated leather, and does not bear any lid designation.  However, round the top of the lid is a straight, tooled line.  The upper interior of the lid is lined with padded white satin and the lower portion is black velvet with a recess to accommodate the cross.


Dr.-Ing. Meyer Johannes - Gruppenführer.

Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class  FAKE.  











Fire Brigade Decoration - Second Class.  
Instituted on. 22 December 1936
Rarity – Scares.
Known Makers –


Fire Cross 2nd Class - with ball ring suspender.


Fire Cross 2nd Class - reverse with wire ring suspender.
This decoration is the same as that described in Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class, except that this cross is smaller and not vaulted.  The arms of the cross measure 43 mm across and are 12 mm wide.  The button in this case, measure 12 mm.  The circle measures 3 mm wide and has a diameter of 32 mm.  The thickness across the arms of the cross is 2 mm and across the centre, 3.5 mm due to the applied button.  The overall colour of the metal parts are silver with the background to the letters being matt patinated and the surfaces of the letters, bright polished silver.  The silver of the arms of the cross are lighter and matt.

The reverse of the cross is plain, with a light matted silver appearance.  From the upper arm is positioned a ball or barrel ribbon ring suspension loop through which passes the ribbon ring.  The cross was designed by Herbert Knötel of Berlin.  It was worn on the medal ribbon bar.  The ribbon comprises of a 30 mm band with 2 mm purple red edge stripe, 7 mm orange-red stripe and a central 12 mm white stripe. 

The cross was introduced on 22 December 1936 by the Minister of the Interior and was to reward those members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade who had completed 25 years faithful service in the Fire Service with the time being calculated as at 1 May 1936.  This cross was to replace all the various Fire Brigade crosses awarded by states or local authorities.  Recommendation for award of this cross came from the Reichsführer-SS Himmler in his capacity as Chief of the German Police, which controlled the fire departments and was approved by the Ministry of the Interior. 

The cross was accompanied by an elaborate citation, the border of which is constructed of interlocking swastikas with the corners having a square with two intertwined swastikas.  At the top, beneath the border, is an elaborate open winged eagle, clutching an oak leaf wreath which has a swastika within it.  Underneath this in hand script is the recipient's rank, beneath this is an elongated box with swastikas at each corner that are formed with double lines to each arm, the inner tip is elongated to the outer tip of the other corner, with the design repeated for all sides.  The name of the recipient is hand written in the box.
'WIRD IM NAMEN DES, REICHSMINISTERS DES INNERN, DAS, REICHSFEUERWEHR=, EHRENZEICHEN, 2.KLASSE VERLEIHEN., BERLIN, DEN,' the date of award, '1937', beneath a facsimile of Himmler's signature, 'H. HIMMLER. REICHSFÜHRER SS UND CHEF DER DEUTSCHEN POLIZEI, IM REICHSMINISTERIUM DES INNERN'.

The presentation case for the Fire Brigade Decoration is a hinged hard case with a press-stud catch.  The exterior is of pebbled black simulated leather and bears no lid designation. It measures 72 mm by 60mm and 20 mm deep.  It has, however, an indented straight tooled line that runs round it.  The upper interior is white satin, void of any designation and the lower portion is black velvet recessed to accommodate the cross.





 
The citation has an original H Himmler signature.


Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class – Small version.   
Instituted on. 30 January 1938
Rarity – Extremely Rare.
Known Makers – Unmarked







This decoration is the same as that described in The Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class that was introduced on 22 December 1936 by the Minister of the Interior except that it measures 43 mm across and has the same measurements as described in Fire Brigade Decoration - Second Class. The decoration is slightly vaulted and on the reverse is a hinge that runs across the top arm from side to side.  The pin is a broad blade type with a slight belly, which then tapers to the tip.  The catch is a 'C' form soldered to the bottom of the lower arm.

The reason for this design is a little unclear and could be a smaller version of the original First Class award, as the original foundation decree for the introduction of the award does not state what size the First Class Cross should be.  However, it is more likely to be the original First Class design and possibly this was a transitional piece in brief use prior to the introduction of the First Class Cross in Gold, that was suspended from a ribbon.

The citation and awarding criteria have been omitted and should be seen in the light of those already described. 

 

Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class in Gold
Instituted on. 30 January 1938
Rarity – Very Rare.
Known Makers –


Fire Cross 1st Class - second type with ball ring suspender.



Fire Cross 1st Class - second type with wire ring suspender.

                   
Fire Cross 1st Class - second type - reverse with ball ring suspender.
                               
          
 Fire Cross 1st Class - second type minature.

This decoration is the same as that described in Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class, except that this cross is smaller and not vaulted.  The arms of the cross measure 43 mm across and 12 mm wide.  The button, in this case, measures 12 mm, the circle is 3 mm wide and has a diameter of 32 mm.  The thickness across the arms of the cross is 2 mm and across the centre 3.5 mm due to the applied button.  The overall colour of the metal parts of the cross are gold, with the background to the letters being matt patinated and the surface of the letters bright, polished gold.

The reverse of the cross is plain with a light matted gold appearance. From the upper arm is positioned a ball or barrel ribbon ring suspension loop, through which passes the ribbon ring.  The cross was designed by Herbert Knötel of Berlin and was worn on the medal ribbon bar.  Only one grade of the decoration could be worn at any one time.

The ribbon comprises of a 30 mm band with 2 mm purple-red edge stripes, 7 mm orange-red stripe and central 12 mm white stripe.

The new cross was in a series of long service awards that was instituted on 30 January 1938 by order of the Führer.  It also served to change the Fire Brigade Decoration and the scope of the award to a truly national one.  The pin back version was eliminated.  The cross was to reward those members of regular or part-time fire brigades who had performed acts of exceptional meritorious service and included acts of bravery at fires.  A First Class award was automatically bestowed upon a fireman who lost his life in the line of duty.  It could also be conferred upon private individuals who had rendered conspicuous service to fire brigade organisations, however after the outbreak of the war, non Germans in the service of the fire department were also qualified for the award on the same terms as Germans.  Recommendation for the award came from the Reichsführer-SS Himmler in his capacity as Chief of the German Police, which controlled the fire departments and were approved by the Minister of the Interior.  Bravery at fires caused by air raids could be rewarded either with the War Merit Cross, or The Fire Brigade Decoration.  It is of interest to include a German news item of September 1944 which stated, '147 awards of the First Class Fire Brigade Decoration and many thousands of the Second Class had been made up to that date for bravery caused by terror bombing'.  This goes to illustrate the relative rarity of the First Class in respect to the Second Class. 

The cross was accompanied by a citation in Gothic script that read, 'IM NAMEN, DES, DEUTSCHEN VOLKS, VERLEIHE ICH,' followed by the details of the recipient, 'IN ANERKENNUNG SEINER VERDIENSTE, UM DAS DEUTSCHE FEUERLÖSCHWESEN, DAS, FEUERWEHR = EHRENZEICHEN, ERSTE STUFE., BERLIN DEN' the date of the award, 'DER FÜHRER UND REICHSKANZLER,' with a facsimile of Hitler's signature beneath and the large embossed state seal in the lower left-hand corner. 

The cross was contained in a presentation box that is hinged with a press-stud catch.  The exterior is of pebbled black simulated leather and bears no lid designation.  It has an indented straight tooled line that runs round it, this is filled with gold leave. It measures 110 mm by 66 mm and 22 mm deep.  The upper interior is white satin void of any designation and the lower portion is black velvet recessed to accommodate the cross.






 
Fire Brigade Decoration - Second Class.   
Instituted on. 30 January 1938
Rarity – Scarce.
Known Makers –



This decoration is the same as that described in Fire Brigade Decoration - First Class, except that this cross is smaller and not vaulted.  The arms of the cross measure 43 mm across and are 12 mm wide.  The button in this case, measure 12 mm.  The circle measures 3 mm wide and has a diameter of 32 mm.  The thickness across the arms of the cross is 2 mm and across the centre, 3.5 mm due to the applied button.  The overall colour of the metal parts are silver with the background to the letters being matt patinated and the surfaces of the letters, bright polished silver.  The silver of the arms of the cross are lighter and matt.

The reverse of the cross is plain, with a light matted silver appearance.  From the upper arm is positioned a ball or barrel ribbon ring suspension loop through which passes the ribbon ring.  The cross was designed by Herbert Knötel of Berlin.  It was worn on the medal ribbon bar.  The ribbon comprises of a 30 mm band with 2 mm purple red edge stripe, 7 mm orange-red stripe and a central 12 mm white stripe. 



This cross was to replace all the various Fire Brigade crosses awarded by states or local authorities. The cross was to reward those members of the Volunteer Fire Brigade who had completed 25 years faithful service in the Fire Service with the time being calculated as at 1 May 1936, with the added clause that it could be conferred on non Germans in the service of the fire department, on the same terms as the Germans after the outbreak of war.  Recommendation for award of this cross came from the Reichsführer-SS Himmler in his capacity as Chief of the German Police, which controlled the fire departments and was approved by the Ministry of the Interior. 

The cross was accompanied by a citation that was printed in Gothic script and read,

 'DER FÜHRER UND REICHSKANZLER HAT MIT ERLASZ VOM HEUTIGEN TAGE' followed by the recipients details, 'ALS ANERKENNUNG, FÜR 25 JÄHRIGE TREUE DIENSTE IN DER FEUERWEHR, DAS, FEUERWEHR = EHRENZEICHEN, ZWEITE STUFE, VERLIEHEN., BERLIN DEN' the date of award, 'DER STAATSMINISTER, UND CHEF DER PRÄSIDIALKANZLEI, DES FÜHRERS UND REICHSKANZLERS'.


 
The cross was contained in a presentation box that is hinged with a press-stud catch.  The exterior is of pebbled black simulated leather and bears no lid designation. It measures 72 mm by 60mm and 20 mm deep. It has an indented straight tooled line that runs round it.  The upper interior is white satin void of any designation and the lower portion is black velvet recessed to accommodate the cross.
 
 
Fire Brigade Cross 2nd class in wear.

Fire Brigade Decoration - Second Class - With 40 Year Oak Leaf Cluster.         
Instituted on. 12 August 1944
Rarity – Extreemly Rare
Known Makers –



This award comprised of an oak leaf spray which was added to the ribbon of the 25 Year Cross.  The spray measures 34 mm across the tips and 17 mm high.  The base has a ribbon that curls from a knot at the centre downwards.  From the knot, in a 'V' form are two oak leaves.  From each side is a larger leaf that overlaps two smaller ones.  The area between the ribbons and the leaves is usually solid, however this, in some cases, can be found voided.  This latter version is not as desirable as the former.  The emblem is attached to the ribbon by two flat pins that are put through the ribbon.  The reverse of the emblem is plain and flat.  The overall colour of the emblem is of matt gold.  Above the emblem the Arabic number '40' was positioned.  This comprised of two individual pressed figures that measure 23 mm high in the case of the '4' and 22 mm in the case of the '0'.  The edges were gently sloped upwards and produced a fine edge line.  The resultant field was crossed horizontally by small rounded lines.  The two numerals were gilded.

This grade was introduced by decree of Hitler on 12 August 1944.  Other awards introduced at the same time were, the Police Long Service 25 Year Service Cross with 40 Years Cluster, and Faithful Service Decoration for 40 Years Service with 50 Years Oak Leaf Cluster,

It was to recognise 40 years of loyal service in the fire brigade however, although the device exists there is serious question as to whether or not it was awarded, therefore the existence of the citation and presentation or protective case is also in question.



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