German Cross in Gold (left) and Silver (right)
|Awarded by Nazi Germany|
|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.|
|Campaign||World War II|
|Established||28 September 1941|
|Total awarded||~26,000 in Gold
~ 2,500 in Silver
|Next (lower)||Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class
Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class
War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords
German Cross in Silver, Gold, and with Diamonds. Post-war de-nazified versions below.
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.
The German Cross was issued in two divisions: 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. The German Cross was unique in that the gold and silver divisions were considered as separate awards but should not be worn simultaneously. However, pictures of recipients wearing both grades exist (see Odilo Globocnik and Dr. Paul Meixner).
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, was 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.
Of both divisions
There are a total of 14 recorded instances of a German recipient receiving both the German Cross in Silver (GCiS) and Gold (GCiG) during the war. These are:
- Major General Robert Bader GCiG 18.03.1945 & GCiS 14.02.1943,
- Lieutenant Colonel Jürgen Bennecke GCiG 30.01.1945 & GCiS 15.02.1943,
- Major General Wolfgang Bucher GCiG 23.02.1944 & GCiS 14.02.1943,
- Colonel Hans Hecker GCiG 19.02.1942 & GCiS 19.02.1942,
- SS-Gruppenführer and Lieutenant General of the Police Odilo Globocnik GCiG 07.02.1945 & GCiS 20.01.1945,
- Major Franz Kaiser GCiG 01.0311945 & GCiS 08.07.1943,
- Rear Admiral Dr. Paul H. Meixner GCiG 11.02.1943 & GCiS 06.06.1942,
- Major General Ernst Merk GCiG 11.02.1944 & GCiS 06.07.1942,
- Lieutenant Colonel Helmut Moeller-Althaus GCiG 15.12.1943 & GCiS 30.05.1942,
- 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 Alfred Thielmann GCiG 08.11.1944 & GCiS 03.12.1942,
- Rear Admiral Paul W. Zieb GCiG 28.09.1944 & GCiS 18.05.1944 and
- Lieutenant General Bodo Zimmermann GCiG 25.09.1944 & GCiS 15.02.1943.
The following 22 foreign soldiers from the allied armed forces were awarded the German Cross in Gold:
- Senior Lieutenant Hando Ruus 30.12.1944
- General Erik Heinrichs 17.08.1943
- Lieutenant General Jarl Lundqvist 09.11.1943
- Lieutenant General Väinö Valve 03.05.1944
- Lieutenant General Taavetti Laatikainen 05.08.1944
- Lieutenant General Karl Lennart Oesch 05.08.1944,
- Vice Admiral Luigi Sansonetti 18.01.1942
- Marshal Ettore Bastico 05.12.1942
- General Enea Navarini 21.12.1942
- Admiral Arturo Riccardi 18.01.1943
- Colonel General Rino Corso Fougier 18.01.1943
- Colonel Mario Carloni 28.03.1943,
- 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,
- Sergeant Izidor Kovarík 17.10.1943
- Sergeant Ján Režňák 17.10.1943
- Major don Angel Salas Larrazabal 09.02.1942
- Major General Emilio Estéban Infantes y Martín 09.04.1943
- Colonel Antonio Garcia Navarro 23.03.1944.
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.
The German Cross was disparagingly referred to as "Hitler's fried egg" by Colonel Hans von Luck and other officers of his acquaintance, in response to its gaudiness. The extent to which this nickname was used is uncertain. It also been referred to in many history books as the "Nazi Party Badge for the near-sighted".
- "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