The Cross of Honour of the German Mother (German: Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter), referred to colloquially as the Mutterehrenkreuz (Mother’s Cross of Honour) or simply Mutterkreuz (Mother’s Cross), was a state decoration and civil order of merit conferred by the government of the German Reichto honour a Reichsdeutsche German mother for exceptional merit to the German nation.Eligibility later extended to include Volksdeutsche (ethnic German) mothers from, for example, Austria and Sudetenland, that had earlier been incorporated into the German Reich.
The decoration was conferred from 1939 until 1945in three classes of order, bronze, silver, and gold,to Reichsdeutsche mothers who exhibited probity, exemplary motherhood, and who conceived and raised at least four or more children in the role of a parent. A similar practice, that continues to this present day, was already established in France since 1920, by conferring the Médaille de la Famille française (Medal of the French Family), a tribute to the French mother who raised several children in an appropriate way.
In recognition of the substantial importance a woman’s role and motherhood was in support of a strong German Reich nation,the Cross of Honour of the German Mother was introduced by decree in Berlin on 16 December 1938 by Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor) Adolf Hitler. The preamble of the statutory decree declared:
- As a visible sign of gratitude of the German nation to children-rich mothers I establish this Cross of Honour of the German Mother (Original text in German: ”Als sichtbares Zeichen des Dankes des Deutschen Volkes an kinderreiche Mütter stifte ich das Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter”).
The crosses were awarded annually on the second Sunday in May (Mothering Sunday or Mother's Day), but also extended to include other national annual occasions of celebration.So despite its institution in 1938, the first awards were rendered in May 1939.
The Mother’s Cross was composed of three classes of order,and conferred to mothers in accordance with its statutory legislation: Verordnung des Führers und Reichskanzlers über die Stiftung des Ehrenkreuzes der Deutschen Mutter vom 16. Dezember 1938. Reichsgesetzblatt (RGBI) Teil I, 1938, Nr. 224, Seite 1923 (In English: Statutory Order of the Leader and Chancellor on the establishment of the Cross of Honour of the German Mother of 16 December 1938. Imperial-(Reichs) Law Gazette (RGBl) Part I, 1938, No. 224, Page 1923) and its stringent nomination screening protocol.
Classes of the Order.
- 1st Class Order, Gold Cross: eligible mothers with eight or more children
- 2nd Class Order, Silver Cross: eligible mothers with six to seven children
- 3rd Class Order, Bronze Cross: eligible mothers with four to five childre
The cross design is a slender elongated form of the Iron Cross or cross pattée and very similar in design to the Marian Cross of the Teutonic Knights Order (Marianerkreuz des Deutschen Ritterordens), enamelled translucent-blue with a slim opaque-white border. Resting on the centre radiant starburst rays is a metal roundel decorated with the words ”DER DEUTSCHEN MUTTER” (In English: TO THE GERMAN MOTHER) around an enamelled black straight centred “swastika” symbol, infilled white enamel.The cross design was the creation of the established Munich-based architect and sculptor Franz Berberich. The production of the cross involved several established Präsidialkanzlei (Presidential Chancellery) approved medal makers from across the German Reich. A maker’s mark was never applied to the crosses produced; though each official house of manufacture did apply their name to the dark-blue presentation case (inside cover) for the 1st Class Gold Cross and the presentation sachets (reverse side) for each of the 2nd and 3rd Class Cross.
|Cross of Honour of the German Mother|
Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter
1st Class Order – Gold Cross
|Awarded by Deutsches Reich
||Civil state decoration.
||Reichsdeutsche mothers. Eligibility later extended to include Volksdeutsche mothers.
||“…for exceptional merit to the German nation.” (to Reichsdeutsche and Volksdeutsche mothers who exhibited probity, exemplary motherhood, and who conceived and raised four or more children in the role of a parent).
||16 December 1938
||21 May 1939
||up until 8 May 1945 (cessation date)