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The Knight's Cross

Discussion in 'German WWII Medals and Awards' started by Jim, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) was awarded for a very wide range of reasons. To illustrate by comparison, the range of gallantry and service awards to which a British soldier might aspire was quite large - the Victoria Cross, Military Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Order, Distinguished Flying Cross and Military Medal, to name but a few. The Knight's Cross, in contrast, rolled such wide-ranging awards into one, and with one particularly important distinction - it was bestowed across all ranks and grades, unlike many British medals, which had different and more attractive decorations for officers compared to those for the lower ranks. The Knight's Cross might be awarded to a senior commander for skilled leadership of his troops in battle, or to a humble private soldier for a single act of extreme gallantry.

    The standard wartime production Knight's Cross: this example was manufactured by C E Junker of Berlin complete with the neck ribbon. The outer frame is burnished whilst the inner frame has a frosted matt finish. The iron centre is painted matt black, providing a very attractive contrast.


    It could be awarded to an ace pilot for shooting down a high number of enemy aircraft, to a tank ace for destroying enemy armour, or to a submarine ace for sinking a high tonnage of enemy shipping. Between 1939 and 1945, some 7,282 awards of the Knight's Cross were made (the exact number is unknown, as records for the last hectic months of the war are incomplete). Although this might seem high, compared to the 182 awards of the Victoria Cross, the fact that the Knight's Cross was a wide-ranging award should be borne in mind. In addition, when considering the millions of soldiers who served in the course of the war, the Knight's Cross was clearly an extremely rare decoration.
    The Knight's Cross holders were held in high regard, and the efficient German propaganda machine ensured a large amount of publicity was given to awardees. Young Germans could buy studio portrait photos of the latest winner to add to their collection. The winner might also be expected to make patriotic speeches to factory workers employed in the war effort, expressing thanks for the hard work of those on the home front, or alternatively might be asked to undertake a lecture tour.
    Interestingly, the official term for one so decorated was Ritterkreuztrager or 'Knight's Cross Bearer', which almost suggests that the award was a burden. Many indeed saw this as the case, the burden being one of great responsibility to set an example to others. Suggestions had been made that the correct title for one decorated with this high award should be Bitter des Eisernen Kreuz or 'Knight of the Iron Cross'. Hitler refused to countenance this, believing that such a designation owed too much to titles granted by the Prussian aristocracy he despised so much.

    A very rare example of the first type of Knight's Cross to be produced, immediately recognisable by the eyelet for the suspension loops. In other Knight's Cross examples this forms a complete circle, but in these early pieces it is only a half-circle.

  2. History-buff1944

    History-buff1944 New Member

    Oct 10, 2012
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    There were 7,320 of these awarded to Germans and another some 60+ awarded to foreign recipients. :thumb:

    When I visited with an RKT vet friend of mine at his home in Hagen in 2000--I got to handle his RK. This man for lack of proper terms--had balls of steel-to say the least.

    Rest in Peace Remy.:down: Ill never forget my 12 hours with you and your Wife.
  3. Sarge

    Sarge Member

    Jan 19, 2016
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    I have had the privalege of meeting and talking with RKT from the Heer, Luftwaffe u. W-SS.
    Here are my cased RK u DK for both WW 2 u. Bundeswehr use by vets in the Bw. .
    R u D K.JPG
    ColHessler likes this.

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