It's not a secret that crosses are a fairly common symbol in biker jewelry. However, not many individuals know their meaning and how this symbol began to be associated with people on motorcycles. In this article, we will tell you about one of the most popular symbols that can be seen on bikers’ accessories around the world - the Iron Cross.
Cross - a Symbol of Valor
Since ancient times, religion has played a huge role in wars and conflicts - from the Crusades to Vietnam and Iraq. Not surprisingly that religious symbols were often used in military ornaments. But it should be noted that only the highest and noblest of the awards carried such symbols. A cross, although it is also used in other variations, was most widely utilized in military rewards.
Out of all military crosses, the worst reputation has the German Iron Cross. Once this reward represented bravery and heroism, however because of Adolf Hitler, today the Iron Cross is strongly associated with Nazism.
Often the Iron Cross is confused with the Maltese Cross. The form of each of them actually came from the cross which in heraldry is called "Patte" (in French - paw). The Iron Cross retains the classic shape of the cross "Patte" while the Maltese cross has a deep cut in the shape of V letter on each "arm".
History of the Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is probably the most famous German award. The history of the Iron Cross dates back to 1813, when the Prussian King Frederick William III established it for the first time during the war for the liberation of Prussia from the troops of Napoleon.
In XX century, the Iron Cross, which retained its shape as it was created by Carl Friedrich Schinkel, first became a German award (before that it was exclusively a Prussian award), and then acquired a distinctive feature of the Nazi army - the swastika in the center and the year of approval on the bottom "arm" of the cross (1939).
Despite the defeat of Germany in the First World War, the Iron Cross remained a symbol of the military prowess of the German army in the years between the wars. The Iron Cross symbolizes the courage of the old Prussian warriors, the great victories of the Bismarck era and the valor of the German soldiers of the First World War.
Officially the fascist symbolism was removed from the Iron Cross in 1957. But till this day many people associate it exclusively with negative emotions.
How the Iron Cross Became Bikers’ Symbol
In the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, crowds of young people who returned to the United States after the Second World War were extremely disappointed with what they found at home. Puritan customs, commercial spirit and the general ostentatious hypocrisy of ordinary Americans did not cohere with the notion of the great American dream, which was defended by former soldiers. Many of these people could not find themselves in a society that was alien to them. Some of those individuals saddled motorcycles, dressed in black leather and started decorating their steel horses with trophy swastikas and iron crosses as a protest against the government. Soon they began to unite in motorcycle clubs and live by the old front principles. Since then, the Iron Cross has taken a new place in history. It became one of the main symbols of bikers and motorcycle customizers around the world. You can find crosses in many elements of biker culture, from the colors to cross rings, pendants and other jewelry. Today The Iron Cross personifies itself as belonging to the world of choppers, to the world of independence and freedom.