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House Order of Hohenzollern
Hausorden von Hohenzollern
Hohenzollernkette.jpg
Collar of the Order
Awarded by the House of Hohenzollern
Type
Royal house
RibbonWhite with 3 black stripes
StatusCurrently constituted
Grand Masters
Grades
  • Grand Commander
  • Commander
  • Knight
  • Member
Precedence
Next (higher)
RelatedRomanian House Order of Hohenzollern
D-PRU Hohenzollern Order BAR.svg

Ribbon of the Order

The House Order of Hohenzollern (German: Hausorden von Hohenzollern or Hohenzollernscher Hausorden) was a dynastic order of knighthood of the House of Hohenzollern awarded to military commissioned officers and civilians of comparable status. Associated with the various versions of the order were crosses and medals which could be awarded to lower-ranking soldiers and civilians.

History

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

On 23 August 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 (Königlicher Hausorden von Hohenzollern or Königlich Hohenzollernscher Hausorden), to distinguish it from the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern (Fürstlicher 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, unofficially, after the fall of the German Monarchy.

Another development occurred 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 ("Order of 'Bene Merenti' of the Ruling House"). This form of the order existed until the Romanian monarchy was abolished in 1947; King Michael also awarded a slightly altered order in exile.

Classes

King Carol I of Romania, wearing the collar of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern around his neck and the pinback Honor Cross 1st Class with Swords of the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern on his lower left breast. He also has a Knight's Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern on his medal bar.
King Carol I of Romania, wearing the collar of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern around his neck and the pinback Honor Cross 1st Class with Swords of the Princely House Order of Hohenzollern on his lower left breast. He also has a Knight's Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern on his medal bar.

Royal House Order

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

"Member" was a lesser class for soldiers who were not officers, as well as civilians. 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.

Princely House Order

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

The Crosses of Merit, Golden Medal of Honour and Silver Medal of Merit 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.

Romanian House Order

The classes of the Romanian version of the House Order were essentially the same as those of the Princely House Order, except that the Cross of Honour 3rd Class of the Romanian version could be awarded with Oak leaves, 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). There 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:

Romanian version for class of Commander (for military personnel)
Romanian version for class of Commander (for military personnel)

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

Notable recipients

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 in the Wehrmacht in World War II.

Grand Commanders

Commanders

Honor Crosses

Members

Unknown Class