Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Infobox Military Award
name=Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
caption=The ultimate expression of the award: the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, awarded only to
for=Awarded to holders of the
Iron Crossto recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership
World War II
1 September, 1939
30 September, 1939
11 May, 1945/ 17 June, 1945ref label|Note1|a|a
Grand Cross of the Iron Cross
lower=Iron Cross 1st Class
caption2=The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (
German language: "Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes", often simply "Ritterkreuz") was a grade of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the second highest military order of the Third Reich, second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross. It was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II.
To qualify for the Knight's Cross, a soldier had to already hold the 1939
Iron CrossFirst Class, though the Iron Cross I Class was awarded concurrently with the Knight's Cross in rare cases.Unit commanders could also be awarded the medal for exemplary conduct by the unit as a whole. Also, U-boat commanders could qualify for sinking 100,000 tons of shipping, and Luftwaffe pilots could qualify for accumulating 20 "points" [with one point being awarded for shooting down a single-engine plane, two points for a twin-engine plane,and three for a four-engine plane, with all points being doubled at night] . It was issued from 1939-45, with the requirements being gradually raised as the war went on.
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was divided into five grades, excluding the
Grand Cross of the Iron Cross:
Knight's Cross ("Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes")
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross is based on the enactment (Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 1573@ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek [http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19390007&zoom=2&seite=00001573&ues=on&x=21&y=6 Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I S. 1573; 1 September 1939] ] ) of
1 September 1939"Verordnung über die Erneuerung des Eisernen Kreuzes" (Regulation of the renewing of the Iron Cross).
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds ("mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillianten")
Also based on enactment (Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 613@ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek [http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19410007&zoom=2&seite=00000613&ues=on&x=14&y=9 Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I S. 613; 28 September 1941] ] ) of
28 September 1941
Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds ("mit Goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillianten")
Based on enactment (Reichsgesetzblatt 1945 I S. 11@ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek [http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19450007&zoom=2&seite=00000011&ues=on&x=14&y=10 Reichsgesetzblatt 1945 I S. 11; 29 December 1944] ] ) of
29 December 1944augmenting articles 1, 2, and 4.
Non Existing Recipients
Since the end of
World War IInumerous people have claimed to be unrecognized recipients of the Knight's Cross. The majority of these "recipients" are lacking any evidence to sustain their claims and are thus denied the right to consider themselves "legal recipients". Up until today two cases exist where the legal proof of the award exists however the recipients do not. These two "legally correct" recipients are Günther Nowak and Heinrich Scherhorn.Fellgiebel 2000, p. 511.]
Günther Nowak, Hitlerjunge, was awarded the Knight's Cross on
14 February 1945for the destruction of eleven tanks in Hindenburg, Oberschlesien. It was always assumed that he was the youngest recipient of the Knight's Cross, however, Günther Nowak never really existed—a deserting Commander of the " Volkssturm" was caught and claimed that after the retreat of the Wehrmachthe had destroyed five tanks single-handedly. Because of this he was taken to a " Gauleiter". Fearing that his lie would be unveiled, he created the story of Günther Nowak in order to lessen his own "feat". This report was then sent to " Reichsleiter" Martin Bormann. Bormann immediately awarded the German Crossin Gold to the "Volkssturm"-Commander Sachs and the Knight's Cross to Nowak.
Association of Knight's Cross Recipients
The Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR) (
German language: "Ordensgemeinschaft der Ritterkreuzträger des Eisernen Kreuzes e.V. (OdR)") is an association of highly decorated front-line soldiers of both world wars. The association was founded in 1955in Köln-Wahn. Generaloberst Alfred Keller, Knight of the Order " Pour le Merite" and Recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, called upon the recipients of the highest combat decorations for bravery to organize an association for tradition. Later, the Recipients of the Prussian Golden Military Merit Cross, of the "Pour le Merite" for enlisted personnel were included. The memorandum of the AKCR incoperates the awarding of 7318 Knight's Crosses, as well as 882 Oakleaves, 159 Swords, 27 Diamonds, 1 Golden Oak Leaves and 1 Grand Cross of the Iron Crossfor all ranks in three Wehrmachts-parts and the Waffen-SS[ [http://www.stengerhistorica.com/Affiliations/odr/index.htm Association of Knight's Cross Recipients] ] .
Law about Titles, Orders and Honourary Signs
The German Law about Titles, Orders and Honourary Signs (
German language: "Gesetz über Titel, Orden und Ehrenzeichen") (BGBl. I S. 334) [ [http://bundesrecht.juris.de/ordeng/BJNR008440957.html BGBl. I S. 334 @ Bundesministerium der Justiz] ] regulates the wearing of the Knight's Cross in post World War II Germany. The reason for this is that German law prohibits wearing a swastika, so on July 26, 1957the West German government authorized replacement Knight's Crosses with an Oak Leaf Cluster in place of the swastika, similar to the Iron Crosses of 1813, 1870, and 1914, which could be worn by World War II Iron Cross recipients.
military slangof the German soldiers the Knight's Cross is often referred to as the "Blechkrawatte" ( tin- necktie). Glory-hungry soldiers were said to have a "neck rash", "itching neck" or "sore throat".
In today's German army the term "Ritterkreuz-Auftrag" (i.e. "Knight's Cross Mission") refers to a duty that is extremely aggravating, meaning a no-win-situation e.g. taking the CO's daughter out to a prom or having dinner with an inspecting general.
List of living Knight’s Cross recipients
*note label|Note1|a|a "
Großadmiral" Karl Dönitzhad ordered a cease of all promotions and awards as of 11 May 1945("Dönitz decree"). Consequently the last Knight's Cross awarded to " Oberleutnant zur See" of the Reserves Georg-Wolfgang Felleron 17 June 1945must therefore be considered a " de facto" but not " de jure" hand-out.Fellgiebel 2000, p. 4.]
* Berger, Florian (2006). "Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges". Selbstverlag Florian Berger.
* Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). "Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945". Podzun-Pallas.
* Fraschka, Günter (2002). "Mit Schwertern und Brillanten. Die Träger der höchsten deutschen Tapferkeitsauszeichnung". Universitas
* MacLean, French L. (2007). "Luftwaffe Efficiency & Promotion Reports For The Knight's Cross Winners"
* Maerz, Dietrich (2007). "The Knights Cross of the Iron Cross". B&D Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-0-9797969-0-6
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