Merit Crosses of the Free Hanse Towns

Steve Nick

Active member
In August of 1914 the Free Hanse Towns of Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck had no existing military equivalents to the Prussian Iron Cross although they had instituted a joint medal for the war against Napoleon in 1815.

The three Free Towns therefore created Military Merit Crosses for the Great War which were authorized by the governing bodies of the three towns as follows; Lubeck on August 21st 1915 for award to serving or former members of the 2nd Battalion 162nd Infantry Regiment, by Hamburg on September 10th for award to serving or former members of the 76th Infantry Regiment and by Bremen on September 14th , 1915 for award to serving or former members of the 75th Infantry Regiment.

The awards could also be awarded to members of the crews of the warships Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck plus citizens serving in other units or in voluntary nursing units in the three towns.

When awarded for bravery or combat merit, it was the three cities' equivalent of the Prussian Iron Cross.

There were approximately 50,000 awards of the Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg, the largest Hanseatic city. The Bremen Hanseatic Cross was awarded approximately 20,000 times. Lübeck was the smallest of the Hanseatic cities, and its Hanseatic Cross was awarded approximately 9,000 times making it the rarest of the three awards.

The reverse is inscribed "Fur Verdienst im Kriege 1914". (For Meritorious Service in the War)


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Some of my favorite medals, sold my set few years ago, wish I had kept them. But need to focus on helmets.


Steve Nick

Active member

Yes, it's sometimes hard to stay focused.

I find myself distracted at times by other items I find interesting. These three medals constitute a small collection that tell an interesting story for not a whole lot of money.


Well-known member
Very nice display and super write-up description Steve! =D>

Thanks for doing this! :thumb up:

The enamel work on these old Imperial medals is really a work of art.

Best Wishes,



Well-known member

I also have the set complete, I just love these medals. I bought the Hamburg and Bremen one first, and then started searching for the elusive
Lübeck one. It took me almost a year to find one, could have bought it from a dealer off-course, but I like to buy from collectors.

And, lo and behold, saw one in immaculate condition for sale, and the guy who had it for sale lived just 7 miles away from me.
So I also have them, without enamel damage, which they usually have, but mine don't have that.
I also focus more on helmets, but also have some iron crosses first and second class. And the set of wound badges.


Greetings, Coert. :thumb up:

Steve Nick

Active member

I too had a challenge finding a Lubeck cross. As you know it's the hardest one to find and in my opinion, the most attractive design.

Mounting them in a shadow box is the next step.

Thanks for sharing yours as well.


Well-known member
Here's my 2-Place Medal Bar mounted sets of the Free Hanse Towns, with the EK2. Each of these 3-Free Hanse Towns Awards was the equivalent of the Iron Cross 2nd Class.

Best Regards,