The War Merit Cross 1st. class with swords (Kriegsverdienstkreuz 1. klasse mit Schwertern), also know as the KVK 1 was instituted on 18-10-1939 by Hitler. Like the KVK 2, this award could be awarded to military personal as well as to civilians (m/f) for bravery which was not directly connected with frontline actions. For example for maintenance of frontline vehicles and equipment, outstanding performance by the civil defence and security tasks. The recipient had to have been awarded the KVK 2 before the KVK 1 could be awarded, but on special occasions it was possible that both decorations were awarded at the same time.
This award is identical in design to the KVK 2 with Swords, but is silver washed instead of bronze. The reverse is flat and has a large pin and hook construction. In some examples the mint mark is stamped on the reverse of the award or on the pin itself. There is a version in existence where the pin and hook construction has been replaced by a screw with a large screw cap. This version is similar to the Iron Cross 1 with screw back. In some cases the screw back is marked. One well known manufacturer of this screw back is: Glaser & Sohn from Dresden. (L/58) Some other well know manufacturers of the KVK 1 are Steinhauser & Lück from Lüdenscheid (4), Ferdinand Hoffstädter from Bonn am Rhein (8), Friedrich Orth from Vienna (15), Karl Gschiermeister from Vienna (50), Gottlieb & Wagner from Idar/Oberstein (52), Robert Hauschild from Pforzheim (56), Kerbach & Oesterheld from Dresden (62), Klein & Quenzer from Idar/Oberstein (65), Rudolf Richter from Schlag (89), Wilhelm Deumer WD from Lüdenscheid (L/11), Otto Schickel from Pforzheim (L/15), C.F. Zimmermann from Pforzheim (L/52) and Glaser & Sohn from Dresden (L/58).
The award was presented in a black box with a black filling with a slit to accommodate the pin. For the screw back version the filling was made in the shape of the screw back. The inside of the lid was covered with white silk, the outside bore the silhouette of the award in silver. The medal was awarded with a standard citation. The award was worn on the left breast pocket, just like the Iron Cross 1. It is estimated that a total of 483.603 decorations have been awarded during WWII.