Review: The Iron Cross 2. Class by Dietrich Maerz and Mario Alt
02-29-2020, 08:48 PM by Streptile on Wehrmacht-Awards.com
Ever since I started collecting, people — especially including me — have been wanting a comprehensive book on the 1939 EK2. That book is here.
I recently got my copy of Dietrich Maerz and Mario Alt’s The Iron Cross 2. Class. I figured I’d have a look and write down my impressions for other collectors after a couple hours browsing it. Little did I realize that it would take me two weeks. The book is nearly 600 pages long.
Dietrich goes into incredible detail on manufacture, distribution, award numbers, markings, terms, the LDO, the PKZ, etc., before even getting into discussing the makers. We are 80 pages in before we get to the first PKZ number, Deschler. There is a ton of information packed into these first chapters, much of it completely new to me — and I am a longtime collector. Dietrich has clearly taken the time to track down original sources and documents to clarify some of the murky mysteries surrounding the subject. For example: why was a specific maker assigned a specific number? Read and find out.
I’ve got a few of Dietrich’s books but in this one he has adopted a new graphic treatment to make frame patterns obvious to even a casual collector. This is a huge improvement over previous EK books because I think a lot of collectors’ eyes glaze over when they have to use a loupe to distinguish between a Juncker and a W&L, to say nothing of an S&L and a Brehmer. These little graphics will finally make all that easier.
In every maker chapter that I have examined, he gets the variants precisely correct. Juncker’s famously complicated types are well sorted and explained, for example. In cases where some controversy exists (for example, who made the “Assmann” Schinkel? Who made the Lug? Is the Long Flaw a Juncker?) he presents all the evidence very clearly and makes a compelling case for his opinion. He’s up on every issue, from the correct makers for Schinkels to ongoing discussions about other specific topics. As a snapshot of the state of the collector community’s knowledge, the book is basically perfect. On some topics — one example is whether W&L supplied frames and cores for some Juncker EK2s, as is commonly held, or if in fact the relationship was the reverse, with Juncker the supplier and W&L the buyer — he is out in front of all of us. This book is full of new information and research that will fascinate and challenge even a veteran collector.
Another great idea was to categorize Schinkels within the section of the relevant maker. So Meybauer Schinkels are found in the Meybauer section, and so on. This is huge improvement over books that offer “Schinkel” chapters. The makers of these early crosses are by now mostly known (with a few tantalizing exceptions) and they correctly belong as the earliest examples of specific makers’ crosses. That’s what they were — early crosses rushed out with outdated tooling. They were not (to name just one absurd theory I’e heard before) some subtly transgressive design undertaken by a secret resistance intent on honoring the Kaiser. Schinkels are interesting because they offer a little snapshot of the economics, the evolution of design, and the exercise of state authority in the Third Reich. Here they are well contextualized, categorized, explained and illustrated.
One odd little thing about the EK2 that has always interested me are pieces made of real silver. These are lovely, rare pieces with workmanship and materials that put them a cut above most common Third Reich awards and share a link to Imperial awards that appeals to me. To date I have assumed that the only types available were the Ubergroße, the Little Brother and the first Deschler type, which I like to call the B-Type but which has also been called the Schinkel B or Prototype. I judge silver pieces in hand, by eye and experience, but Dietrich, in keeping with his scientific, test-based approach, has actually tested an Ubergroße (yes, it’s .900 silver). Too bad he didn’t mention (that I saw) the B-Type in silver — a rare error of omission in this exhaustive book. An .800 silver Mayer (p. 253) was a new sight for me, and I wish it had also been tested as I’ve seen plenty of EK2s fraudulently or erroneously marked for silver content (if it’s really silver, I want it!)
I need to say a word about Packets, one of my favorite subject. They are difficult to categorize because there are three variables: size, paper color and front stamp. Dietrich has decided to categorize them by the most important characteristic, front stamp, and explain that the stamp can be found on different color papers and sized Packets. This is a great choice and, in my opinion, makes this complex field finally navigable for collectors.
This is a great, comprehensive, lavishly illustrated piece of work. I can only wish this book existed when I started collecting. I could have learned in one place, in a month, what took me years of trawling the internet, speaking to other collectors and agonizing under a loupe. I can’t imagine anyone ever having to write another book on the subject.
"Dear Mr. Maerz,
Just a quick note to thank you for your great service and for the GREAT Books!
I truly don't know how any collector of WWII German medals can be without your awesome and most comprehensive selection of books. Also thank you for the bookmarks you've included."
THE KNIGHTS CROSS OF THE IRON CROSS by Dietrich Maerz
“I received my copy earlier this week. Finally had some time last night to sit down and begin reading. Despite my intention to go slowly, I finished the entire book in one sitting! Literally, I could not put the book down. To me, it read like a mystery story. When I finally got between the sheets in the wee hours, it took some time to drift off as I recounted over and over in my mind the information new to me - and the dispelled myths. Many thanks to the author and other contributors for tackling this subject in a scientific manner.”
“Its contents are truly amazing. Mr. Maerz - Your book is absolutely outstanding! It covers all the aspects of collecting this kind of militaria and offers the ultimate weapon (if one would use it well) against fakers. I am in awe. There are no words at the moment I can write to fully describe my fascination - it is simply a unique piece of art.”
“ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS! A must have book for any KC enthusiast, whether you own one now or are looking for one in the future or just plain interested in knowing more about this great award. This book IS a must have.”
“Hell, this book is a must have even for any dedicated Iron Cross collector as there is so much information that crosses over to the lesser award.”
"Well, I got mine here in Oz today. And it is just fantastic! You can't appreciate what this book really means until you hold it in your hands. It is absolutely phenomenal. Dietrich; You have done the collecting community a massive service.”
“I highly recommend this book! It is informative and enjoyable to lifelong collectors, hobbyists, and anyone who wants to learn more about an award earned by some of the bravest to fight in WWII.”
“The information is presented in a logical manner that affords understanding to novices and expert collectors alike. Dietrich Maerz's extensive research is conveyed through the detailed writing and extensive close-up photographs (many never before published) throughout the book. For anyone contemplating collecting the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, this work is a must-have reference.”
“I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to future works by Mr. Maerz. He has distinguished himself as an expert in this field and is willing to share his knowledge with others for the advancement of the collection of militaria.”
THE GERMAN CROSS by Dietrich Maerz
“I just received the book "The German Cross" by Dietrich Maerz. It is a fantastic book full of color pictures and everything you could want to know about the German Cross. Even if you do not collect the German Cross it is an excellent addition to your library.”
“The scope and quality of this book is so amazing it should effectively close the door on any further books on the subject. With “The German Cross in Gold and Silver”, Dietrich Maerz has produced a masterpiece full of unsurpassed detailed color photographs with crisp text and captions all presented in a beautiful design and layout. Because of the truly encyclopedic information provided on the German Cross and the biographical coverage of many of its recipients the book is a must have for the collector, the historian or anyone just interested in the ETO of World War Two. While not inexpensive the book is well worth every penny and much more so than many other "collectors books" I've purchased in a similar price range.”
“The previous book by Maerz about the Knight Cross has become the defacto standard about the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery. In this book about the German Cross Maerz raises his own standard even higher. It covers everything a collector needs to know. Helping identifying originals from fakes, extensive research from all makers of the German Cross up to the one with diamonds! For the historically interested readers, the books show groupings from soldiers who earned the German Cross and you will get an insight in their careers. This book is a must-have for the militaria collectors and for the historically interested reader and is highly recommended.”
"Got the book today and I am thrilled with the high-quality photos and loads of information; a great reference for any collector to have on hand!"
"I ordered a book from yourself about 2 weeks ago… and it turned up yesterday. I haven't read it myself but my wife has shown me it on Skype and I am just writing to you and your company to say how impressed I am by the book. So thank you very much for the service I will buying again."
THE IRON CROSS 1. CLASS by George Stimson/Dietrich Maerz
“Not one to get mushy over a book, but I'm very impressed by the extensive work put into this book. A book like this has been a long time coming.”
“My hat is completely off to you guys for this book. It goes so far beyond what I was expecting, and I was expecting a lot. I especially enjoy the chapter 'The Manufacturing Process'. The book is an outstanding work.”
“Just got the book, what an amazing work! The books from B&D never seems to stop amaze me.”
“I have received my copy and I must say it's a superb reference book. Very well organized and researched. A must have resource for the collector.”
“If you are a collector of the Iron Cross 1st Class then you should have this book. If you just like great research and beautiful books then you should buy this book. For this subject I don't believe this book will ever be surpassed.”
THE AWARDS OF THE KRIEGSMARINE by Sascha Weber/Skora
“My books arrived today, even having a quick look, well, WOW!, I wish these books had been around when I first started collecting.”
“It is the best KM awards book ever published!”
THE GLIDER PILOT BADGE by Stijn David
“I just got my English version of "The Glider Pilot Badge" by Stijn David today. The translation was done well and I see no glitches with a quick read through. It is a great reference for those of you who admire this badge or want to find out why they are so hard to come by. The format has changed a little bit from the original edition. The badge numbering scheme has been dropped and the dimensions of the book has been decreased with a larger page count. Content is great and all the original badge types are illustrated along with a lot of useful information and history.”
“This is a well-organized and well-illustrated book which no Luftwaffe collector should fail to buy. Stijn has done a very good job. The illustrated badges (to include the cloth versions) will greatly assist those seeking a glider piece for their collections!”
THE FLAK BADGES by Marc Garlasco
“This would have to be the one and only book that any collector would need on the Heer Flak Badge, it has saved me hundreds of dollars on fake badges with the help of this book.”
“As an avid Flak Badge collector I wanted a good reference book to hit the market to accompany and help authenticate my collection. This book has more than satisfied my needs and wants. I highly recommend this work to everyone interested in the WWII German Flak Badge, whether novice or seasoned collector.
THE INFANTRY ASSAULT BADGE by Sascha Weber
“I love this book, even though once the limited, signed, edition arrived I was compelled to remove several reproduction Infantry Assault badges from my collection. The ability to educate the collector to the particular details of each manufacturer's variations is invaluable. This book allows me, as a collector, to research and authenticate items before making a purchase. The fact that many highly respected Internet militaria vendors now cite the page the badge they are selling is depicted on speaks for itself.”
“Just buy this book. Do yourself a favor and buy it, it has all the information you need, this is a must for any book collection.”
THE AWARDS OF THE HEER, Vol. I by Dietrich Maerz/Bernd Hartmann
"The Awards of the Heer, Vol. I, provides a complete overview of the history, requirements, awards, manufacturers, packaging and award documents for most of the medals and badges a German soldier could earn through service and valor in the Second World War. Volume II promises to complete the coverage. Those familiar with the work of Dietrich Maerz and his publishing company B&D Publishing LLC will find the same attractive layout featuring detailed full color photos complimented by period black and white photos and illustrations. … The depth of coverage for each award is condensed when compared to the specialized book B&D publishes on each specific award, e.g. the Knight's Cross. The book surpasses any prior overview on the subject without becoming mired in the depth of detail now available on these awards. I find the charts listing the known war-time manufactures for each award and grade highly valuable. The authors and publisher are to be congratulated for their continuing dedication to educating and sharing the vast database on these awards with collectors and historians. I would highly recommend this book to anyone considering entering the field of World War II German Army Combat Awards, and to those already collecting and studying these pieces of history the individual German Soldier valued so highly and suffered so much to earn."
"This book contains over 750 detailed color photographs of not only decorations awarded but also the award procedures, documents, and cases as well. The attention to detail and the research that went into this book clearly shows both authors dedication to a much overlooked subject. This book has been expanded, updated, and translated from the original German version. Even though the cost may deter you from purchasing this book as well as the future Volume 2; don't let that prevent you from getting both volumes."
"The Awards of the Heer book is the first in a "general" series of books on medals of the Armed Forces of the TR. I place "general" in quotes since the book goes far beyond a general reference by delving into many of the variations of badges/awards presented to the Heer. For many years Angolia's For Fuhrer and Fatherland was considered the entry level book for TR badges and, to a certain extent, is still an excellent resource for overall badge/award information. This excellent reference book will now serve as a successor to Angolia's work and as a prelude to other more specialized books such as Durante's CCC book, Garlasco's Flak book, Heukemas GAB book etc."
"Just got mine, excellent work, if you have to to have one book on the subject this is it......…."
"Picked this one up at the Max. I am impressed with how precise and concise the information is. Great book!"
THE AWARDS OF THE KRIEGSMARINE Vol. III by Norman Franke/John Robinson
"Great job Gents! Much appreciated! What I also like a lot in this suplement is how the corrections, additions and new variants were fit into previous two volumes. It's not easy to make such revisions so that the outcome was clear and understandable for every reader. It was done perfectly here. Thanks again for the most professional and comprehensive reference book on KM awards."
THE PARTY BADGE by Jo Rivett
"An old tired phrase, but seriously, it's like this. This book is a must have for any WWII German militaria collector. If you ride motorcycles, the one to get is a Harley-Davidson. If you love watches, you must have a Rolex. If you are into food, you must dine French. If you collect Nazi militaria, you must have at least one party badge, and more importantly, the information contained in this book. Beware, you will never look at your collection the same again. Fakes are everywhere and Jo lays it out.
Got the Brick today. No other militaria reference comes close in terms of scholarship, technical analysis, and sheer eye-opening truth. The information contained is completely valid and relevant in other areas of collecting. Tired of being "burned" by fakes??? This book shall set you free. And trust me, this is just the tip of the ice berg. Not some picture book that any 5th grader can skim through in one sitting. This one is a "monster!" Packed, packed, packed packed with info, guidance and WISDOM.
The sheer volume of variants to the party badge is just mind numbing. Jo Rivett has opened up a whole new line of collecting. But more importantly, his quest for the truth is his key contribution. A lifetime achievement. If you thought Thomas Wittman was a pioneer for daggers collectors, Jo Rivett has made a name for himself as the "Mark Twain of militaria" as in a seeker of Truth and Wisdom. And to think that this legend has written a book in English which is NOT his native language; wow!!! his talent just blows me away."
THE MEMEL MEDAL by Antonio Scapini
"Got mine a couple of weeks ago,a great addition to my little collection. A well researched and interesting read, congrats Antonio!"