Non-Prussian German Awards
Each different Kingdom and Duchy that made up the German Empire issued its own medals for bravery, exemplary conduct or special anniversaries which could be awarded to its soldiers or sailors for service at home and abroad. Although most state medals were awarded to their own servicemen, they were also awarded to soldiers and sailors from other states. For example although Generalmajor von Lettow-Vorbeck was Prussian he was also awarded the Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th Class with Crown and Swords, the Württemberg Order of the Crown with Lions and the Hamburg Hanseatic Cross amongst many other medals. Examples of some state awards are shown and described below.

Military Merit Order
Fourth Class with Swords
Photo from WikiCommons
Saint Heinrich Order

Knights Cross
Photo from WikiCommons
Hanseatic Cross
Second Class 1915 Award
Photo from WikiCommons
1902 Jubilee Medal
for Grand Duke Friedrich
Photo © JW Collection
Military Merit Cross
Second Class with 1900 date
Photo © The Medal Hound
Saxe-Meiningen Military Merit Medal
with clasp for "CHINA"
Image created by Medal Hound

Bavarian Military Merit Order
The Bavarian Military Merit Order ("Militär-Verdienstorden") was the standard Bavarian award for officers for bravery and military merit. As well as being awarded for European service it could be awarded to Bavarian (and other German) officers for colonial actions. One such as this (4th Class with Swords) was awarded to Oberleutnant Jakob Danner for bravery during the Boxer Rebellion. Another example (again 4th Class with Swords) was awarded to Leutnant Lukas von Kaufmann along with the Prussian Crown Order (4th Class with Swords) for bravery while serving in the 1. Feld-Regiment of the Schutztruppe during the Herero Rebellion.
Recommended External Links - Bavarian Military Merit Order on Wikipedia
Recommended Reading - "L'Ordre du Mérite Max Joseph de Bavière" Militaria Magazine No253 August 2006

Saxon Saint Heinrich Order
The Saxon Saint Heinrich Order ("St. Heinrichs Orden") was Saxony's oldest Military decoration and could be awarded in several classes to different ranking recipients. Again as well as being awarded for European service it could be awarded to Saxon (and other German) officers for colonial actions. For example a Saxon father and son both received the St Heinrich Order for service in East Africa during the First World War. Generalleutnant z.D. Kurt Wahle became Knight of the St Heinrich Order on 19th.July 1917 and Commander of the order, second class on 29th October 1920 for his command of von Lettow-Vorbeck's Western Front. His son Oberleutnant.d.R. Ralph Wahle received the award on 12th March 1920.
Recommended External Links - St Heinrich Order on Wikipedia, St Heinrich Order at MedalNet and St Heinrich Order for East Africa at the Gentlemen's Military Interest Club

Hamburg Hanseatic Cross
The Hanseatic Cross ("
Hanseatenkreuz") with variations for the cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Lübeck, was instituted for all ranks in 1915, so no pre-1914 colonial awards were made. However the crosses were commonly awarded to members of the Imperial navy based at any of these city ports. For example although Admiral Souchon spent the bulk of the First World War based in the Black Sea he was awarded both the Hamburg and Bremen Hanseatic Crosses.

Baden 1902 Jubilee Medal
Baden Jubilee Medal ("Jubiläums-Medaille") awarded to Badeners in service who had distinguished themselves in military or public service to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden's reign. It was mostly awarded to soldiers on the Baden contingent of the Prussian army but also to Badeners serving in the Schutztruppe, East Asian Occupation Brigade, Marine Infantry and Navy. As the Prussian 1897 Wilhelm I Centenary Medal was awarded to all members of the Prussian army and imperial units (such as the Schutztruppe and Navy) but not to members of the Baden or other state armies, veterans having both the Prussian Centenary and Baden Jubilee medals would most likely have served in imperial units.

Mecklenburg-Schwerin Military Merit Cross
The Military Merit Cross ("Militär-Verdienstkreuz") was awarded to Mecklenburgers of all ranks for distinction in wartime. Awards were made in the Boxer Rebellion (medals dated 1900) and the Herero Rebellion and other colonial campaigns (undated medals). For example the Mecklenburg naval officer Karl Nerger was awarded the second class award for his part onboard SMS Iltis in the Storming of the Taku Forts in China in 1900. During the First World War he was awarded the 1914 award in both first and second class for commanding the SMS Wolf on a 15 month commerce raiding mission across the Indian Ocean.
Recommended Links-
Mecklenburg Military Merit Cross at Wikipedia  and Karl Nerger Biography at Pour le Mérite

Saxe-Meiningen Military Merit Medal
The the only other state medal that I am aware of having variations for colonial campaigns was the Gold and Silver Saxe-Meiningen Military Merit Medal for NCOs and other ranks, which could be awarded with clasps for "CHINA" (for the Boxer Rebellion) and "AFRIKA" (for the Herero and Nama Rebellions). About 20 of the African clasp are known to have been awarded.
Recommended External Link - Saxe-Meiningen Colonial Bar both at the Gentlemen's Military Interest Club


Cameroon Schutztruppe Officer
Ernst von Raben
Von Raben commanded the 3. Feldkompagnie defending the Mora district during the First World War in Cameroon and was the last German commander to surrender in West Africa in February 1916. He wears the Schutztruppe grey home uniform with Südwester hat. The facing colour and piping would be in red for Cameroon. He wears three medals on his breast, the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle fourth class with swords, Prussian Crown Order fourth class with swords and the Württemberg Knight of the Military Service Order third class with crown. Despite von Raben being a proud Württemberger, these medals are worn with the Prussian medals first in the correct order of seniority for a serving officer of the Schutztruppe.

Photo © Joe Robinson
Recommended External Link - Von Raben's Letter

Kapitänleutnant von Mücke
formerly of the SMS Emden c1917
Von Mücke led a small party of German sailors from the SMS Emden who escaped capture when the ship was destroyed off the Cocos Islands and made they way across the Indian Ocean and eventually to Istanbul. He wears a naval officers dark blue frock coat over a shirt and tie and the white Summer cap. He wears the Iron Cross first and second class on his left breast and second buttonhole respectively. As a proud Saxon his bar has the Saxon Order of St Heinrich Knights Cross in first position, followed by the Bavarian Order of Military Merit 4th Class with Swords and the Prussian Crown Order 4th Class. Naval regulations usually put all Prussian awards ahead of state awards. He then has his foreign medals, the Austro-Hungarian Order of the Iron Crown and two Ottoman Medals, probably the Imtiyaz and the Liyakat, both with clasp and swords.
Photo © JW Collection

Hauptmann Herman Detzner c1920
Schutztruppe Officer formerly posted to
New Guinea
Detzner was the only German officer on New Guinea to avoid capture by the invading Australians throughout the First World War. He wears a Schutztruppe 1897 grey home uniform with the Südwester hat, probably with collar, cuffs, hatband and piping in green for New Guinea. Being a proud Bavarian he wears his two Bavarian Military Merit Orders ahead of his Prussian Iron Cross Second Class on his medal bar. He also has the Colonial Service Medal for pre-war action in Cameroon. He wears the Iron Cross First
Class badge on his lower left breast.
Photo from WikiCommons



Examples of Medal Bars with Medals from Other German States
See more on the Medal Bars Page


Bar of Bavarian Veteran of the
First World War in the Middle East
with Prussian, Bavarian, Ottoman and later German Awards

Photo © Thomas Millow

Bar of a Naval Veteran
awarded Hamburg and Oldenburg Medals
with non-combatant South West Africa and China Medals

Photo © Karsten Herzogenrath

Bar of a Mecklenburg-Schwerin
Veteran of the Herero Campaign
with Prussian, German and Mecklenburg Awards

Photo © Peter Klein

Bar of a Boxer Rebellion Veteran
with Saxon and Hamburg Awards
 alongside Prussian, German and Austro-Hungarian Awards

Photo © JW Collection
Bar of a Herero Reellion Veteran
with Württemberg and Brunswick Awards
alongside Prussian, Gemran and Chilean Awards

Photo © Traditionsverband
Bar of a Caucasus Expedition Veteran
with a Baden Award
alongside Prussian,Ottoman and Georgian Awards

Photo © Sascha Wöschler of


Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

Back to Medals Page

Back to Main Menu for German Colonial Uniforms