Knight cross of the iron cross

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The knight cross of the iron cross

with beginning of the Second World War, at the 1. September 1939, becameby the “regulation on the renewal of the iron cross between those three stages (EK II, EK I as well as the large cross) already admitted a further stage pushed in, the knight cross of the iron cross.

It followed the EK I and took over to a large extent the position of thein the First World War lent Pour le Mérite - medal, which admits as “blue max” was (however only to officers lent was).

With the knight cross until 1945 altogether 7,318 soldiers, among them also 438 member of the weapon SS were distinguished.

In particular in the initial years of thethe Second World War and with the higher knight cross classes the honor was lent later personally by Adolf Hitler.

With the medal delivery in each case the distinguishing kept also a charter, which exhibited common the form of a opening by hinges book.

These charters/award books were characterised as follows:

  • Knight cross:Red cover alsogold-coined/shaped realm eagle on the exterior.
  • Knight cross with oak leaves: White cover also gold-coined/shaped realm eagle on the exterior
  • knight cross with oak leaves and swords: White cover with circulating broad golden ornament border and a gold-coined/shaped Reichsalder on the exterior.
  • Knight cross with oak leaves, swords and brilliants:Darkblue/black cover with circulatingbroad golden ornament border and a gold-coined/shaped Reichsalder on the exterior.
  • Knight cross with golden oak leaves, swords and brilliant: Arrangement at present still unknown.

/Award books it is common to all charters that in the interior the name and at the time the current rank of the Beliehenen are called.

In the later years of theWar the charters were not any longer spent, but were held back in leader headquarters. They should be distributed only after the “final victory”.

According to medal law of 26. July 1957 is carrying the EK from the Second World War (in all its stages) only in a form without swastika andwith proof of his entitled acquisition permits. Veterans can itself for this „entnazifizierte “medals - also as miniature - make to let, on which the swastika is replaced by oak leaves, as it already zierte the first iron cross of 1813.

That a neck decoration received the name knight cross,is unusual. With all European medals otherwise the knight cross is the lowest, 4. or 5. Stage of the honor. The old single-step religious knight medals form only exception, where the knight cross is a neck decoration.

Since the war lasted longer than expected, it was necessary, the knight crossgradually in order to extend three higher classes. To the end 2. World war still another fifth class was added, which was only once assigned however.

Table of contents


the knight crossin the appearance I. corresponds to the iron cross. Class, differs however by the fact that it:

  • is somewhat larger
  • than neck medal at the volume in the realm colors black-and-white-red one carries.

The classes of the knight cross are ascending:

  1. the knight cross of the iron cross
  2. the knight cross of the iron cross with oak leaves(ab 3。 June 1940)
  3. the knight cross of the iron cross with oak leaves and swords (starting from 21. June 1941)
  4. the knight cross of the iron cross with oak leaves, swords and brilliants (starting from 15. July 1941)
  5. the knight cross of the iron cross with golden oak leaves, swords and brilliant (starting from 29. December1944)

The knight cross of the iron cross
the knight cross of the iron cross with oak leaves
the knight cross of the iron cross with oak leaves and swords
the knight cross of the iron cross with oak leaves, swords and brilliant
the knight cross of the iron cross with golden oak leaves, swords and brilliant

into thatIt is called award regulations for the knight cross that this exclusive for:

  • special bravery before the enemy and
  • for outstanding earnings/services in the troop guidance to be lent is.

In addition a general condition was an independent guidance resolution in the sense of the mission-type tactics.

award practice

the knight cross could not only at soldiers of the armed forces or the SS to be lent, but z. B. also at police enforcement officer, Feuerwehrmänner or SA - members.

The higher classes of the RK were lent extremely rarely and their owners (not: Knights) enjoyed high reputation, because it acted throughout overoutstanding front-established soldiers or outstanding strategists. They were allowed to carry the Mantelkragen openly, so that the honor was visible.

Starting from the class “with oak leaves” the award was nummeriert; so was general field marshal Erwin Rommel for example the 6. Carrier of the brilliants.

To Beleihende had before the award of theRK both classes of the iron cross possess. A EK from the First World War, already lent, was not taken into account. In exceptional cases the RK was lent at the same time with the EK II and I. An award after death was likewise in exceptional cases possible. The knight cross with goldenOak leaves could have been lent to at the most 12 times.

award numbers

  1. knight cross: 7.313 (other sources speak of 7.318)
  2. knight cross with oak leaves: 883 + 7 foreigners
  3. knight cross with oak leaves and swords: 159 + 1 foreigner
  4. knight cross with oak leaves, swords and brilliants: 27 (boiler ring, Rommel, Model, Schörner, Dietrich, Balck, Hube, v. Manteuffel, v. Saucken, Dr. Mauss, Ramcke, Gille, Tolsdorff, Galland, Schulz, count Strachwitz, Lent, Mölders, Gollob, Rudel, Brandi, Lüth, Nowotny, Schnaufer, count, Hartmann, Marseille) *
  5. RK with golden oak leaves, swords and. Brilliant one: 1 (herd)

* sorted descending according to rank, beginning with general field marshal

in these awards contained are also the knight cross carriers of the armies of allied nations:

  1. Romania: 18 RK(3 RK with EL: Petre Dumitrescu, Mihail Lascar, Corneliu Teodorini) (further e.g.Ion Antonescu)
  2. Italy: 9 RK
  3. Hungary: 8 RK, among other things Miklós Horthy
  4. Japan: 2 RK (1 RK with EL and. Swords: Isoroku Yamamoto, 1 RK with EL: Yneichi Koga)
  5. Finland: 2RK (1 RK with EL Carl Gustaf man home)
  6. Slowakei: 2 RK

as well as carriers from the numbers of the freiwilligen weapon NSS federations, weapon federations and putting ions:

  1. Latvia: 12 RK
  2. Belgium: 4 RK (1 RK with EL: Léon Degrelle)
  3. Estonia: 4 RK (1 RK with EL: Alfons Rebane)
  4. Holland: 4 RK
  5. Denmark: 3 RK (among other things Sören came)
  6. France: 3 RK

with all awards is over-represented officers. They were distinguished in principle preferentially, were applicable however due to their leading positions rather for an award. For exclusive combat acts a multiplicity existed to other one,partially just as highly outstanding weapon and combat badges: the German cross (in gold and in silver, also “fried egg” mentioned), the close-in engagement clip (bronze, silver, gold), the honour sheet and/or. (Navy) honour board clip, the infantry storm badge, the general storm badge, the badge for the personal destruction of enemy tanks etc.

It is partly disputed whether it concerned with the RK a rather political or rather military honor. The fact that the RK was lent usually by Hitler personally or by a deputy is able to give on it little information, there the recommendations not from Hitler,separate by the set forward officers were expressed and in addition in the German Reich and in the very most States of the head of state the award of all-highest honors was reserved and is. The bare fact that only 0.04% of all German soldiers received the knight cross, cannot the honouring automaticallyacquit of the suspicion of the LV ideology. Beyond that no correlation between the number of honours and the political convicition of the honouring is to be determined. Both war criminals and Erich of the brook Zelewski and resistance fighter such as Friedrich Olbricht were knight cross carriers. As very probable it is to be regarded however that thoseBelonging ones the weapon SS, which were distinguished, by which a political character of this organization in the very most cases convinced national socialists were probably, so that an honour with the knight cross for large parts of the weapon SS represented also a political honor; It is to be considered however that onlyscarcely 6% of all lent knight crosses were lent to the weapon SS.

Günter Grass uses the knight cross in his novel Katz and Maus as example, like humans tries, by medals their own weaknesses or physical physical defects (here: to overact an oversized Adam's apple).

medal communitythe knight cross carrier

the still living medal carrier are organized many in the medal community of the knight cross carriers (OdR). The Federal Minister of the defense Rudolf Scharping has to 4. It decided March 1999 that the German Federal Armed Forces maintain no more official contacts to the OdR and its regional subsidiary organizations. Reason for this decisionwas - in opinion of the SPD Secretary of Defense Scharping - “revanchistische” the behavior of this group. Unaffected by this prohibition a small or a large honour escort can be placed to mourning ceremonies for carriers of the RK with permission of the Federal Minister for defense.

soldier language

in the simple (frequentdeftigen) and soldier language exposing sometimes the honor was called also „neck iron “; Soldiers, who developed a large ambition after the knight cross, were considered as „neck-ill “.

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