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The German Cross (German: Deutsches Kreuz) was instituted by Adolf Hitler on 28 September 1941. It was awarded in two divisions: gold for repeated acts of bravery or achievement in combat; and silver for distinguished non-combat war service. The German Cross in Gold ranked higher than the Iron Cross First Class but below the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, while the German Cross in Silver ranked higher than the War Merit Cross First Class with Swords but below the Knight's Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords.
German Cross in Gold (left) and Silver (right)
|Awarded for||The Gold division was awarded to military personnel for 6–8 exceptional acts of bravery or achievements in combat. Silver division was awarded for distinguished acts of service in war effort.|
|Presented by||Nazi Germany|
|Campaign(s)||World War II|
|Established||28 September 1941|
|Total||~26,000 in Gold|
~ 2,500 in Silver
German Cross in Silver, Gold, and with Diamonds. Post-war de-nazified versions below.
|Next (lower)||Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class|
Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class
War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords
The German Cross was issued in two versions: gold and silver (the color of the laurel wreath around the swastika), the former being an award for repeated acts of bravery or repeated outstanding achievements in combat, the latter being for multiple distinguished services in war efforts and was considered a continuation of the War Merit Cross with swords.
Article three of the law governing the German Cross states that a prerequisite for the presentation of the German Cross in Gold or Silver is the ownership of the Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class or Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class, or the War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords.
The order consists of a star badge, containing a swastika (in German, Hakenkreuz, "hooked cross", which gives the award its name, the "German cross"). It had a diameter of 6.5 cm and was worn on the right-hand side of the tunic. If a recipient had been awarded both the silver and gold divisions, the gold division should be worn only.
Only the gold version of the award was officially available in cloth form, which was made for easier wear on the combat uniform; General Helmuth Weidling wore this variety during his defense of Berlin in April–May 1945. Far more awards in gold (combat) were presented than in silver (support).
Specimen copies of a special grade, the German Cross in Gold with Diamonds, were manufactured in 1942 but this grade was never instituted or bestowed.
In 1957 alternative de-nazified replacement versions of the German Cross were authorized for wear by the Federal Republic of Germany. This replaced the swastika with a representation of the Iron Cross for the gold division, and the War Merit Cross with Swords for the silver division. Wearing Nazi-era decorations was banned in Germany after the war, as was any display of the swastika. The 1957 replacement of the World War II decorations consequently enabled recipients to wear the German Cross again but only in the new version of the insignia.
Award certificate: German Cross in Gold to Count Claus von Stauffenberg 8 May 1943
Select recipients of both grades included:
- SS-Gruppenführer and Lieutenant General of the Police Odilo Globocnik GCiG 07.02.1945 & GCiS 20.01.1945,
- SS-Gruppenführer Bruno Streckenbach GCiG 15.12.1943
- Major General Ernst Merk GCiG 11.02.1944 & GCiS 06.07.1942,
- SS-Standartenführer and Colonel of the Police Walther Rauff GCiG 07.02.1945 & GCiS 20.05.1943,
- General Felix Schwalbe GCiG 07.12.1944 & GCiS 30.10.1943,
- Lieutenant General Bodo Zimmermann GCiG 25.09.1944 & GCiS 15.02.1943.
- SS-Hauptsturmführer Alfred-Ingemar Berndt GCiG 17 July 1943
- SS-Sturmbannführer Wilhelm Mohnke GCiG 26 December 1941
- SS-Obersturmbannführer Fritz Knoechlein GCiG 15 Nov 1942
- Generalleutnant Walter Krupinski GCiG 27 Aug 1942
Select foreign recipients of the German Cross in Gold included:
- Standartenführer Léon Degrelle
- Senior Lieutenant Hando Ruus 30.12.1944
- General Erik Heinrichs 17.08.1943
- Lieutenant General Jarl Lundqvist 09.11.1943
- Lieutenant General Karl Lennart Oesch 05.08.1944,
- Vice Admiral Luigi Sansonetti 18.01.1942
- Marshal Ettore Bastico 05.12.1942
- Colonel General Rino Corso Fougier 18.01.1943
- General Gheorghe Avramescu 25.10.1942
- Major General Leonard Mociulschi 25.10.1942
- Major General Ermil Gheorghiu 11.02.1943
- Captain Nicolae Dabija 10.02.1944
- Major General Emilio Estéban Infantes y Martín 09.04.1943
Some 26 non-German volunteers of the Waffen-SS from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Netherlands and Norway received the German Cross in Gold.
Colonel Hans von Luck called it "Hitler's fried egg", in response to its gaudiness.
- "Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I S. 593; 2 October 1941" (PDF). ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (in German). Reichsministerium des Inneren (Ministry of the Interior). Retrieved 19 August 2014.
- For Führer And Fatherland: Military Awards of the Third Reich by LTC John R. Angolia. 1976 R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 0-912138-14-9
- "The German Cross in Gold and Silver" by Dietrich Maerz, B&D Publishing LLC, Richmond, MI, 2009, ISBN 978-0-9797969-2-0
- "Panzer Commander" by Hans Von Luck, Praeger Publishers, New York, NY, 1989, ISBN 0-440-20802-5