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The three Hanseatic Cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck instituted a decoration for war services in 1915. These decorations were manufactured by the Firm Fahnen Fleck in Hamburg 11 (founded 1882), which is still going strong.*

Each cross was of identical design in red enamels, silvered at the reverse, apart from the central medallion on the averse, which bore the emblem of that state. They also had different ribbons. The rear medallion bears the central date, and around it the text Für Kriegsverdienst.

The Bremen decoration in this photo is mounted on an Austrian style fold ribbon, indicating that it was received by an Austrian recipient. It has slight damage to the enamel on one of the arms of the cross.

They were equivalent of the Iron Cross 2nd Class, and were awarded to soldiers of these three cities, but also bestowed to nationals of other states.

Each decoration was awarded with a certificate personally signed by the head of that state, for Hamburg all certificates were signed by Dr. Siemsen, the Oberbürgermeister. In 1918/19 ended the history of this decoration. The Hanseatic Cities had a tradition of not making awards of any kind, this was one of the few exceptions. The Bremen decoration may be considered the rarest, that of Hamburg the most common.

*Fahnen-Fleck reportedly went into insolvency in 2018. However the factory will still carry on.

 

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I have always been interested in these, wanted to get one for awhile. I have also noticed the fakes are starting to flood the market now. 

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The Hamburg ones are not hard to find, Bremen and Lübeck are not so common, and cost quite a bit more. The Hamburg examples used to got for around 50-60 Euros,
now they cost a bit more.

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