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Landwehr Crosses the Basics

Joseph P Robinson

2 December 2004

In response to a series of questions I thought I would jot these thoughts down. Janet was Air Guard and so we try to do mostly reserve helmets but fail. Step 1 is to understand that the proper title is Landwehr Cross not reserve cross regardless of whether it was worn by reserve forces or Landwehr forces. Step 2 is to understand that there are a million variations on a theme here. The Trawnik book diagrams of this issue are well worth having. Most authors stay clear of reserve stuff because it is too hard and not as well documented as active stuff.


So here goes a short dissertation. An American auction house has put up a Baden reserve plate without bandeaux and saying it is odd when in reality it is correct except the color of the cross.  In theory the motto was on the Landwehr cross and thus no bandeaux on the wappen.  There is no difference between Landwehr and Reserve. The difference is in the motto on the cross and the wappen itself. There are also differences in how they are attached. Knötel had a plate of Reserve and Landwehr crosses in his Das deutsche Heer-Friedensuniform bei Ausbruch des Weltkriegs. This cartoon drawing is our starting point.


Ok so let’s take a look at Prussian Eagles.

This is a reserve eagle in my collection. FR on the chest, no bandeaux. Cross which has the motto Für Koenig and Vaterland is on the cross. These crosses a standard 25mm width and height. I have seen smaller ones that are about 20mm. there was no enlisted version of this wappen.



This is a Landwehr wappen and you can see no FR on the chest. The cross is mounted on that location. A standard 25mm cross. Some but not all of these eagles had an inset of the cross. If you look at the back of this plate you can see several things. The impression of the cross and the “prongs” that attached the cross. These prongs were often soldered to the back of the cross and if removed often broke.  The cross was not always soldered to the wappen.  The holes that the prongs went through were pretty rough. If you look at the one on the left you can clearly see it is more oval.  If you see machine drilled holes it is probably new.


This is the reserve helmet I mentioned.  Cross with Bandeaux.  Incorrect but I have no doubt about this being original. I have seen about a dozen of these. This has a double motto.  Why?  I guess it was what they had. If you were an active OYV that went reserve I guess you could add a cross for 1 mark instead of refitting it for 15 marks.

Guard Reserve, Grenadier Reserve and Landwehr followed a similar pattern with Guard Reserve having the cross mounted in the lower position under the guard star. New style grenadier reserves had so many variations as to warrant a separate article.

 Guard Landwehr were entirely different with their own specific wappen as below. there is enlisted form of this wappen that was used for both the Guard reserves and Landwehr both.


I have seen variations on position as well as size of the cross. Baden followed the same concept except there is no difference between Landwehr and Reserve. The cross said “Für Fürst and Vaterland” so while it looks the same at a distance from the Prussian it is indeed different. Here is a picture of a Baden with both mottos. Correct no.  Original probably. Lots of Baden reserve wappen had both mottos.  Look at Stubbs and you find they abound. Note the position of the cross. Baden crosses seem to be here or mostly lower down between the leg and the shield. Also some in the center had the cross impressed like Prussian Landwehr eagles.


This shows the back of that plate with 4 holes for the reserve cross.  Two are utilized.


There an interesting Baden theory.  A senior collector and man of the cloth, has a Baden wappen with a Koenig reserve cross. His theory is that it belongs to IR 114.  Those guys had a wacht company that guarded the little Prussian enclave of Hohenzollern (the catholic side). I have no other support for this theory and don’t buy it objectively but it is a real possibility.

Wurttemberg had no motto on their cross like this example. This was also 25mm. While Würrtemburg had no difference between Reserve and Landwehr it seems as though their Landsturm units had Gilt crosses on gilt wappen.  One of these is on Hilsenbeck pg 163 but is not noted by Knötel.


Hessian crosses were different again. There was no difference between reserve and Landwehr. Again a 25mm cross. The motto said “Gott Ehre Vaterland”. Positioning seems consistently low.


Saxon crosses were different with no motto and no difference between Reserve and Landwehr. The crosses were supposedly 56mm.


Mecklenburg had a lot of size differences and a Fürst motto. No difference between reserve and Landwehr. They were supposedly 44mm and the one in the Herrmann book is.  However, many are about the size of Prussian crosses. Strelitz supposedly had one that was 36mm but I have no example. Stubbs on page 497 and Laine states that all Mecklenburg crosses were silver not gilt but examples such as Herrmann and this one disagree.

The very small vassal states that had a Prussian eagle and a central wappen followed the same general rules as the Prussians.  There were many variations like the Landwehr of IR 92 did not have the Peninsular bandeaux. This has Fürst crosses mounted in the lower position. The sole contrary example is Oldenburg which had a Koenig cross.


The Hansiatic states followed the Prussian pattern but their cross was different. The motto read “mitt Gott Furs Vaterland”.

Bavaria had no motto and no difference between reserve and Landwehr. And a cross that was 45mm wide and 55mmn tall.


There are also differences in the decorations on the crosses.  Wreaths, swords, 1813 date.  Generally Prussia had the date 1813, Furst crosses had a wreath.  There were however swords too. I do not think this is random but I will get to it in other drafts.