The Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
is the only general state decoration
State decorations are orders, medals and other decorations granted by a state. International decorations are similar, but are not granted by a specific nation but rather an international organization....
of the Federal Republic of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
. It has existed since 7 September 1951, and between 3,000 and 5,200 awards are given every year across all classes. Colloquially, the decorations of the different classes of the Order are known as Federal Cross of Merit
Most of the German federal states
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...
) have their own orders of merit, with up to three ranks (member, officer, commander). This excludes the Free
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...
Cities of Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...
, which reject any orders; by old tradition their citizens will refuse any decoration in the form of an order (most famous example: former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt
Helmut Heinrich Waldemar Schmidt is a German Social Democratic politician who served as Chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982. Prior to becoming chancellor, he had served as Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance. He had also served briefly as Minister of Economics and as acting...
has eight classes, in ascending order:
- Verdienstmedaille (Medal)
- Verdienstkreuz am Bande (Cross)
international equivalent: Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross)
- Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Officer's Cross)
- Großes Verdienstkreuz (Halskreuz) (Commander's Cross or Grand Cross (Neck cross))
- Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern (Knight Commander's Cross or Grand Cross with Star)
- Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern und Schulterband (Grand Cross with Star and Sash)
international equivalent: Großkreuz 2. Klasse (Grand Cross of Merit, Second class) or Großkomturkreuz (Grand Commander's Cross)
- Großkreuz (Grand Cross 1st class)
- Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes (Grand Cross special class)
The President of the Federal Republic holds the Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes
ex officio. It is awarded to him in a ceremony by the President of the Bundestag
The Bundestag is a federal legislative body in Germany. In practice Germany is governed by a bicameral legislature, of which the Bundestag serves as the lower house and the Bundesrat the upper house. The Bundestag is established by the German Basic Law of 1949, as the successor to the earlier...
attended by the Chancellor, the President of the Bundesrat
and the Supreme Court President. Other than the President of the Federal Republic, only a foreign head of state
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...
can be awarded with the highest class. There is also the provision of awarding the Großkreuz
in a special rare design, which has so far only been used twice: for Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...
and for Helmut Kohl
Helmut Josef Michael Kohl is a German conservative politician and statesman. He was Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998 and the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union from 1973 to 1998...
Except for the lowest class, the badge is the same for all classes, but with slightly different versions for men and women (slightly smaller badge and ribbon for women):
is a golden Cross
A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars perpendicular to each other, dividing one or two of the lines in half. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally; if they run obliquely, the design is technically termed a saltire, although the arms of a saltire need not meet...
enamelled in red, with a central disc bearing a black eagle.
is a golden star with straight rays, its size and points vary according to class, with the badge superimposed upon it.
is red with gold-black-gold stripes.
- Bundeswehr Crosses and Medal of Honor
The Badge of Honour of the German Armed Forces is a series of military decorations of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany...
- German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship
The German Armed Forces Badge for Weapons Proficiency is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany....
- German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency
The German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany....
- German Armed Forces Flood Service Medal
The German Flood Service Medal 2002 is a decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany.The decoration was awarded to all German military members, foreign armed service members, civilian rescue forces and civilians, who had collaborated with the flood disaster relief efforts in Germany in the...
- German Armed Forces Service Medal
The German Armed Forces Service Medal is a decoration of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany....
- German Parachutist Badge
- German Sports Badge
The German Sports Badge is a decoration of the German Olympic Sports Federation DOSB, of the Federal Republic of Germany...