Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross or in German Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes was the highest decoration in the Second World War in the Iron Cross class and also the highest military award for bravery and courage. Grand Cross or Grosskreuz is otherwise the higher award as the Knight’s Cross, but was awarded only to Hermann Goering. It was taken away from him before the end of the war. Military order Pour le Merite better known as Blue Max was the precursor of the Knight’s Cross in the hierarchy of the German decorations until 1918.
Starting of the Second World War 1. 9. 1939 the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was inserted to the already changed Iron Crosses, the three classes - the first, the second class and the Grand Cross (Grosskreuz).
The Knight Cross was awarded to any soldier regardless of his rank. This was not the case when awarding the orden Pour le Merite from the World War I, which was granted only to aristocrats and officers. By the end of the war there were 7,318 Knight’s Crosses awarded, partisans of Waffen SS are included. The condition to conquer the Knight’s Cross is unselfish bravery in front of the enemy and exceptional merit when leading the army units. The first preliminary condition for conquering the Knight’s Cross for generals was not only their command on the battlefield but also logicality when planning the army tactics. The practice of the awarding was to give the Knight’s Cross not only to soldiers of Wehrmacht and Waffen SS units, but also to the police units, firemen, members of the SA, partisans of Volkssturm and the RAD working units. The second preliminary condition for conquering the Knight’s Cross was the both stages of the Iron Crosses, but the Iron Crosses from the World War I were not valid. In exceptional cases the EK1 and EK2 were granted at the same time as the RK. Posthumous granting was possible only exceptionally.
Bearer of the Knight’s Cross could have had the first button on his coat open, because of its visibility and significance. Higher classes of the Knight’s Cross were rarely awarded, their bearer had a great reputation in his generation of army, as an exceptional solder with experiences at the front and an outstanding strategist.
Knight’s Cross, maker CE Juncker, marked with lazy "2"
EX Collection: Collector
On the first year of the Second World War and also later on the senior officers were awarded with the Knight’s Cross by Adolf Hitler himself. Together with the grant of the decoration respectively rarely Adolf Hitler also awarded the red folder with documents in s shape of a book.
The red leather folder in which the document of conquering the Knight’s Cross was granted to the soldiers who won it in the first years of the war.
The folder with the awarded document of the Grand Cross or Grosskreuz which was awarded only to Hermann Goering
Awarded documents from the early period of the war. This document was granted in a red leather folder
Knight’s Cross is similar in appearance to the Iron Cross of the 1st Class. The only difference is that the Knight’s Cross is bigger and was worn around the neck on a ribbon, which was in the colors of the Reich, therefore, black-white-red. The frame in which the iron core was embedded was made from silver. The first designs had a zinc core.
Oak Leaves and Oak Leaves with Swords , marked »21« from maker Godet - Berlin
The first model of the Oak Leaves with Swords and Diamonds
Awarded only to Mölders, Galland and Gollob
The classes Knight’s Crosses are in classes rising in the following order:
The class with the diamonds was always rewarded in two versions. In the first versions there were real diamonds and in the second version brilliant cut glass.
Knight’s Cross with Golden Oak Leaves should be rewarded twelve times, but in practice it was given only to Hans Ulrich Rudel.
Unofficial Oak Leaves with Swords maker L12 CE JUNCKER BERLIN SW
(Ramon Sierra Collection)
Number of grants:
The information will include a 41 foreigners, namely (by country):
Generalfeldmarshal Werner von Brauchitsch, one from first awarded
The first grant of Knight’s Crosses was on the 30.9.1939. They were rewarded to the senior officers of Wehrmacht, who ran the campaign on Poland. Those were: Blaskovitz, Bock, Brauchitsch, Goering, Keitel, Kesselring, Loehr, Kluge, Kuechler, List, Raeder, Reichenau and Rundstedt. All of the first Knight’s Crosses were awarded on the same day by Hitler on a gala ceremony.
Generalfeldmarshal Fedor von Bock, one from first awarded, also holder of Pour le Merite
Pour le Merite - maker: Wagner
Until now the certified producers of the Knight’s Crosses are:
Knight Cross - CE Juncker Berlin early unmarked
Knight Cross - CE Juncker Berlin marked L/12 and 800
Klein & Quenzer ( K&Q ) A.G. Idar-Oberstein a.d. Nahe
Knights cross of the iron cross is one of the most replicated awards of the Third Reich era but replica that would match the characteristics of the above makers was still not made. As mentioned, some Knights crosses were produced after the war but with original wartime tools. There is virtually impossible to tell when the cross of this sort was produced. Experts usually make the decision based on the frame deformations.
According to the law decoration from 26.7.1957 all of the beneficiaries or winners of the Iron Crosses in the World War II were allowed to purchase a model without the swastika. Instead of it the motives were oak leaves, similar to ones in the World War I. Veterans could also bear the original cross, but they had to remove the swastika.
Knight’s Cross 1957, Maker: Steinhauer & Lück
Very rare Knight Cross presentation case awarded from Adolf Hitler
(description & photos: RS)
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