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Knights Cross of the Order of the Iron Cross
DATE OF INSTITUTION
1. September 1939 as the third and new grade of the re-instituted Order of the Iron Cross
The Knights Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded for exceptional bravery in the face of the enemy and for outstanding merit in troop leadership. The awarding required the previous awarding of the two lower grades. The Knights Cross was solely awarded by the Führer upon the proposal of the soldiers unit and issued by the Heerespersonalamt. The Knights Crosses were stored at the Ordenskanzlei in Berlin, to be sent to the awardee after approval. There were no Knights Crosses stored at any level of the Wehrmacht before the end of April 1945.
The Knights Cross of the Iron Cross was produced by seven manufacturers, not including variations amongst the individual companies. The Knights Crosses can be found either unmarked (early Juncker and 3/4 Ring), with a silver content mark, with an LDO number (L/12 and L/52), and later on with the company’s Präsidialkanzlei number (2, 20, 65, and 4). Private sales were forbidden after October 1941.
Accurate numbers are not known but the closest estimation is around 7,200, and most likely another couple of hundred on stock at the Präsidialkanzlei.
The awardee received a preliminary document in A5 format and issued in the name of the Führer by the responsible personnel offices of the three branches of the Wehrmacht. The formal document (Große Mappe) was issued later and only until date of late 1942 / early 1943 due to the huge backlog.
The Knights Cross was worn around the neck on a wider red white and black ribbon which came within the black award case of the Knights Cross.