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The House Order of Hohenzollern (Hausorden von Hohenzollern or Hohenzollernscher Hausorden) was an order of chivalry of the House of Hohenzollern. It was both a military and a civil award. The order itself could only be awarded to commissioned officers (or civilians of approximately equivalent status), but associated with the various versions of the order were crosses and/or medals which could be awarded to non-commissioned officers and soldiers or civilians of approximately equivalent status.

History

The House Order of Hohenzollern was instituted on December 5, 1841 by joint decree of Prince Konstantin of Hohenzollern-Hechingenmarker and Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringenmarker. These two principalities in southern Germany were Catholic collateral lines of the House of Hohenzollern, cousins to the Protestant ruling house of Prussia.

On August 23, 1851, after the two principalities had been annexed by Prussia, the order was adopted by the Prussian branch of the house. Also, although the two principalities had become an administrative region of the Prussian kingdom, the princely lines continued to award the order as a house order. The Prussian version was then known as the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern (Königlich Hausorden von Hohenzollern or Königlich Hohenzollernscher Hausorden), to distinguish it from the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern (Fürstlich Hausorden von Hohenzollern or Fürstlich Hohenzollernscher Hausorden). Although Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918 as German Emperor and King of Prussia, he did not relinquish his role as Head of the Royal House and as such he was still able to confer the Royal House Order. The Princely House Order continued to be awarded after the fall of the German Monarchy as well, albeit unofficially.

Another wrinkle took place in 1935. Prince Karl Anton's second son, Karl Eitel Friedrich of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, had become prince and then king of Romania as Carol I. Carol I had died childless and was succeeded by his nephew Ferdinand I, also of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. During the reign of Ferdinand's son King Carol II, the Romanian government established its own version of the House Order of Hohenzollern, known in Romanian as Ordinul "Bene Merenti" al Casei Domnitoare or the Order of "Bane Merenti" of the Ruling House. This version existed until the Romanian monarchy was deposed in 1947, but a slightly revised version was awarded by the former King Michael in exile.

Classes

The Royal House Order of Hohenzollern came in the following classes:

  • Grand Commander (Großkomtur)
  • Commander (Komtur)
  • Knight (Ritter)
  • Member (Inhaber)


"Member" was a lesser class for non-officers (or their equivalent). The Members' Cross (Kreuz der Inhaber), especially with swords, was a rare distinction for non-commissioned officers and the like. Another decoration, the Members' Eagle (Adler der Inhaber) was often given as a long-service award to lesser officials such as schoolteachers. The "Eagles" (the Members' Eagle and the Knights' Eagle, or Adler der Ritter) were solely civilian awards, and could not be awarded with swords. All other grades could be awarded with swords. During World War I, the Knight's Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern became in effect an intermediate award between the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Pour le Mérite for Prussian junior officers. When awarded with swords it was worn on the ribbon of the Iron Cross.

The Princely House Order of Hohenzollern came in the following classes:

  • Honor Cross 1st Class (Ehrenkreuz 1. Klasse)
  • Honor Commander's Cross (Ehrenkomturkreuz)
  • Honor Cross 2nd Class (Ehrenkreuz 2. Klasse)
  • Honor Cross 3rd Class (Ehrenkreuz 3. Klasse)
  • Golden Merit Cross (goldenes Verdienstkreuz)
  • Silver Merit Cross (silbernes Verdienstkreuz)
  • Golden Honor Medal (goldene Ehrenmedaille)
  • Silver Merit Medal (silberne Verdienstmedaille)


The Merit Crosses, Golden Honor Medal and Silver Merit Medal were lesser grades for non-commissioned officers, enlisted men and their civilian equivalents. All grades could be awarded with swords. During World War I, the appropriate grade of the Princely House Order was often awarded to officers and men of Füsilier-Regiment Fürst Karl Anton von Hohenzollern (Hohenzollernsches) Nr. 40, an infantry regiment raised in the principalities of Hohenzollern and whose honorary chief was the Prince of Hohenzollern. Soldier in the regiment's sister reserve and Landwehr regiments also often received the decoration. Unlike the Royal House Order, awards of the Princely House Order were made on the standard ribbon of the order (the "statute" ribbon) regardless of whether they were with or without swords.

The classes of the Romanian version of the House Order were essentially the same as those of the Princely House Order, except that the Honor Cross 3rd Class of the Romanian version could be awarded with Oakleaves, and the Golden and Silver Medals could be awarded with a Crown. As with the Prussian and Hohenzollern versions, crossed swords could be used to indicate a wartime or combat award. Given the short existence of the order and the fact that Romania had a number of other decorations for valor and military merit (Order of Michael the Brave, Order of the Star of Romania, Order of the Crown of Romania, Air Force Bravery Order, Cross of Military Virtue, Air Force and Naval Bravery Crosses, Crosses and Medals for Faithful Service, Medals for Steadfastness and Loyalty), awards of the Romanian version of the House Order with swords are uncommon.

Insignia

The badge of the House Order of Hohenzollern was a cross pattée with convex edges and curved arms (sometimes called an "Alisee" cross). The were differences in the enameling of the arms of the cross for the Royal, Princely and Romanian versions, but all featured white enamel on the higher classes and a black enameled stripe near the sides of the cross. Between the arms of the cross was a wreath of laurel leaves (left side) and oak leaves (right side).

The cross bore a center medallion; the medallion and its band bore different coats of arms, mottos, dates and ciphers for each of the Royal, Princely and Romanian versions:

  • The white-enameled medallion of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern bore a black Prussian royal eagle with the Hohenzollern house coat of arms on a shield on the eagle's chest. Around the center medallion, a gold-rimmed band of blue enamel bore the motto in gold letters: "VOM FELS ZUM MEER" ("From the cliffs to the see"), with a wreath of laurel below. The white-enameled medallion on the reverse bore the cipher of King Frederick William IV of Prussia, the king when the order was founded. A gold-rimmed band of blue enamel bore the date "DEN 18. JANUAR 1851" with a wreath of laurel leaves (left side) and oak leaves (right side).


  • The white-enameled medallion of the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern bore the Hohenzollern coat of arms (a quartered shield of black and white) under a princely crown. Around the center medallion, a gold-rimmed band of blue enamel bore the motto in gold letters: "FÜR TREUE UND VERDIENST" ("For loyalty and merit") with a smaller wreath of oakleaves below. On most grades, the white-enameled medallion on the reverse bore the intertwined ciphers ("F" and "A") of Princes Friedrich (Konstantin's actual first name) and Anton, the princes who founded the order, under a princely crown. The gold-rimmed band of blue enamel bore one of several dates, depending on the class, such as "DEN 5T APRIL 1844" for the 2nd and 3rd Classes, with a wreath of laurel leaves below.


The Romanian version of the Commodore insignia - for military personnel. another picture here


  • The white-enameled medallion of the Romanian House Order bore a black Romanian eagle with the Hohenzollern coat of arms on a shield on the eagle's chest. Around the center medallion, a gold-rimmed band of blue enamel bore the motto in gold letters: "NIHIL SINE DEO" ("Nothing without God"). The white-enameled medallion on the reverse bore the crowned cipher of King Carol. The gold-rimmed band of blue enamel bore the date of the founding of the Romanian kingdom, "10 FEBRUARIE 1881".


The statute ribbon of the order was white with three black stripes (with slight variations among the Royal, Princely and Romanian versions).




Notable recipients

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger
Chief of the General Staff at the outset of World War I, wearing the Commander's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern around his neck.


The following list is only a sample of some of the more prominent recipients' names. As noted above, the Knight's Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order was the intermediate decoration between the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Pour le Mérite for Prussian junior officers. There were over 8,000 awards during World War I of this class (there were far fewer awards of the other classes, or of any class before the war). Thus, among the ranks of Imperial German Army junior officers who earned the Royal House Order as lieutenants, captains or majors in World War I are several hundred who reached the rank of general the Wehrmacht in World War II.




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