The Krzyz Zaslugi (cross of merit) was for the first time instituted by order of the President of Polish Republic (Second Polish Republic) on June 23rd, 1923.
It was re-instituted by decree of the Polish National Committee December 22nd, 1944, and stated: "... for the purpose of the encouragement of the salient merits, which facilitate glory and benefit of the people of Poland" founded.
The decoration could be awarded:
- for high production achievements;
- for fruitful public activity.
- for high achievements in the science and medicine, literature and skill, sport.
Also mothers of large family’s were awarded.
The cross of merit consists of three classes:
- The gold Cross Of merit;
- The silver Cross Of merit;
- The bronze Cross Of merit.
The gold Cross Of merit is the highest Degree.
In each class the recipient can be awarded for four times. Since 1960 a change was introduced in the order for awarding the cross of merit. From then the gold and silver cross of merit could be awarded twice and the bronze cross of merit only once. Since 1992 all types of the cross can be conferred twice in each grade.
With repeated awarding a new medal and diploma is entrusted. The cross of merit can be awarded to individual citizens as well as working associations, enterprises, establishments, and such organisations.
For the service towards the Polish State the cross of merit can be awarded to both Polish and foreign citizens.
The awarding is being done by the President of the Polish State.
The cross of the merit of all three classes was awarded to soldiers of the Polish army during World War II, which did not assume direct participation in the fighting’s, but who appeared courage and heroism, fulfilling their official duty. . For civilians the cross is placed directly with the ring to the ribbon, for military there are two crossed swords between the medal and the ribbon. The Cross Of Merit with Swords was instituted on October 19th 1942 by the Polish Government in Exile in London, also in three grades, for deeds of bravery and valour not connected with direct fight, as well as for merit rendered in perilous circumstances. Cross of Merit was recognized and broadly awarded in People's Poland while crosses with swords and for bravery were discontinued. All three types of the cross were reintroduced by the Act of October 18, 1992.
All classes have the same design in the form of a Leopold cross with four arms. The arms widen to the endings. Each ending point is pearled between the arms stand five rays of which the centre one is longer than the others. In the circle in the middle is engraved the monogram "RP" for medal awarded before 1952 and "PRL" for after 1952. The obverse in all classes is smooth, polished
Dimensions of cross in all classes is 40 X of 40 mm, base 18 mm and a diameter of the central plate (diameter Viennese) is 18 mm.
The ribbon is of a dark red (scarlet) colour with two longitudinal grey-bleu stripes on the sides. The cross for Bravery awarded in II Republic had an extra diagonal (left to right) stripe of green and dark blue; that awarded in III Republic has a narrow vertical stripe of the same colours in the middle of the ribbon. Each subsequent award is denoted by a gilt, silver or bronze bar on the ribbon. On the ribbon bars the cross with Swords is denoted by a pair of swords on the ribbon; since 1960 gold and silver crosses have been marked by a gilt or silver vertical braid in the middle of the ribbon bar.