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General Lieutenant Baron Franz Carl Friedrich Ernst von Klüx

July 16, 1776 - July 9, 1858 

 

The Tuesday's issue of the Frankfurt Imperial Postoffice Newspaper "Dienstaegige Frankfurter Kaiserl. Reichs=Ober=Post=Amts=Zeitung" from May 21, 1793, Number 81 published the following story:

 

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It reads as follows:

 

"Frankfurt, May 20. Today we received the following report:

When Prince of Hohenlohe observed at  Blies close to Ottweiler on May 15, 1793, that the enemy post close to Neuenkirchen had reinforced its troops to 2000 soldiers, he realized that the unfavorable positioning of the troops in the fields would still make an attack possible without difficulties. He then did order the 900 soldier strong detachment of colonel von Ezekely to fire onto the enemy with their guns. The Frenchmen answered the fire vividly, but without any effect. The Prince simultaneously ordered an attack using the close by stationed riflemen of a battalion from Trier and the trooper of the fusilier battalion von Wedel. This attack made the French corps realize that its flanks were in danger and started a rather unorganized retreat. Our cavalry pressed them towards Spiessen and caused much damage to the French. 1 captain, 3 officers and 51 enlisted soldiers were captured by the action of the brave Lieutenant von Klüx of the von Wedel trooper battalion, who fought leading ahead of the riflemen. The French left 19 dead behind. Our casualties were limited to one Hussar and 2 horses."

 

Based on such a brave act General Lieutenant Baron Franz Carl Friedrich Ernst von Klüx received shortly afterwards the following document:

 

 

It reads as follows:

 

Euer Hochwohlgeb: haben bey der neylichen afaire bey Neukirchen dero Eiffer und Aplication für den Dienst auf eine so Thätige Art erprobt, daß ich es für Pflicht find Sr. Königl. Majestat damit bekand zu machen. Allerhöchst Dieselben, gewohnt jede schöne That zu belohnen, und zu fernerer Anstrengung auf zu muntern Ertheilen Euer Hochwohlgeb: hierdurch den Orden des Verdienstes, und mir ist es besonders angenehm, schon ich hierunter zu Euer Hochwohlgeb: Vortheil habe mich schmücken können.

 

Keiserslautern den 22. May, 1793

 

Prinz von Hohenlohe

 

It reads like this in English: "You have proven your eagerness and involvement in the service at such a level during the affair at Neuenkirchen that it was my duty to make his highness familiar with it. It is most pleasant for me to reward you for this deed with the Merit Order in order for you to excel your efforts."

 

The prince of Hohenlohe had indeed awarded him on March 22, 1793 the at that point of time called "Order of Merit":

 

The following picture shows this decoration. The crown was naturally not awarded immediately with the Merit Order, but 50 years later when von Klüx celebrated his 50th orders jubilee (July 18, 1844).

 

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The cross itself complies with the workmanship of the time. As little gold as possible found its way into this decoration. The gold functions actually as a form that contains multiple layers of enamel from a white base layer up to the final Prussian blue colored enamel containing the golden letters forming the orders motto:" Pour le Mérite" as well as the crown. Both are made from gold leaf.

 

The " Pour le Mérite" marked von Klüx's career's beginning. The following contemporary pictures shows him with an impressive rooster of medals and decorations. Besides the Iron Crosses of the 2nd and 1st class one can see a Red Eagle Order 3rd class as well as several Russian decorations.

 

von Klüx as Colonel wearing his impressive set of order decorations

 

Requests for being awarded the Order of the Iron Cross for the Napoleonic War from 1813-1815 were still placed with the General Order Commission until 1841 and beyond. This and some in dept research showed, that many knights of the Iron Cross lived in poor conditions. The later was reinforced by numerous requests for support directly posted to the king.

Based on those circumstances and to uphold the status of the Iron Cross, the king initiated in May 1841 the creation of a “Senioren-Stiftung” (Senior-Fund) that would enable recipients of the Iron Cross to enjoy a pension of sorts in analogy to orders awarded in other European states.

Initial problems with funding through the state were brushed aside and the direct request was posed to wrap this matter up the August 3, 1841, the birthday of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV’s father.

Benefactors of this grand were limited to 24 seniors of the Iron Cross first class and 72 seniors of the second class. Those were in compliance with the following rules:

 

§ 1. Only Knight’s wearing the order on the black and white ribbon for  combatants

§ 2. Residing within the Prussian territory

§ 3. Only 24 first class and 72 second class slots were available

§ 4. The army rank the Iron Cross was awarded in was valid for the selection

§ 5. Entrance into the Senior position was also ruled by the sequence of events during the Napoleonic War (it was later added that wounded in combat, then seniority in the army, then age would be applied if the Iron Cross was fall in the same timely sequence of events)

§ 6. Inherited Iron Crosses followed the same rules above

§ 7. Granting the Senior position was done only by the King himself on August 3 of each following year

§ 8. Everybody that is able due to private wealth or income will be granted the title Honorable-Senior (Ehren-Senior) of the Iron Cross

In December 1856 only 13 Iron Cross first class and 108 second class recipients were still in the Army, 1859 the number shrunk to 12 of the first class and 89 second. The count diminished from just 10 years earlier from 40 first class recipients and 349 of the second class.

All in all the following statistic applies for all living Iron Cross recipients:

 

Iron Cross 1st Class – 96

Iron Cross 2nd Class – 3530

For the 50 year anniversary on March 17, 1863, all still living Iron Cross bearers were entitled to receive the senior pension pay, except those that would qualify to be an honorable senior based on paragraph 8.

 

The last change was made on January 1, 1863, were all bearers of the Iron Cross, no matter of nationality were granted the increased senior pension of 50 or 150 Thaler for their lifetime. Those were 73 of the first class and 3042 of the second. Those include those Iron Crosses that were passed on by the inheritance rules up to 1839.

 

It turns out that von Klüx was amongst those that qualified. Talks with the descendents of his family revealed that he had asked for financial help from his king several times. Yet, he still passed on the opportunity of receiving a pension and was therefore made an honorable senior of the Iron Cross.

 

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The extremly rare document for bestowal of the honorable senior of the Iron Cross

 

All in all we have not just a very brave man, but also somebody doing the right thing for his fatherland.

 

© Andreas M. Schulze Ising V/2010


 
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