Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), or simply the Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz), was a grade of the 1939 version of the Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz), which had been created in 1813. The Knight's Cross was the highest award made by Nazi Germany to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or outstanding military leadership during World War II. Among the military decorations of Nazi Germany, it was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, an award that was given only once, to Nazi leader and Hitler's second-in-command Hermann Göring. He was granted it as a result of his services in building up the Luftwaffe (the German air force), and for serving as its commander-in-chief. The Knight's Cross was therefore functionally the highest order that German soldiers of all rank could obtain.
The Knight's Cross grade of the Iron Cross was worn at the neck and was slightly larger but similar in appearance to the 1813 Iron Cross. It was legally based on the 1 September 1939 renewal of the Iron Cross. The order could be presented to German soldiers of all ranks and to soldiers from other Axis countries. Its first presentation was made on 30 September 1939, following the German Invasion of Poland, which marked the beginning of World War II in Europe. As the war progressed, some of the recipients distinguished themselves further, and a higher grade, the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub), was instituted in 1940. In 1941, two higher grades of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves were instituted. These were the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) and the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten). At the end of 1944 the final grade, the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten), was created. The Golden Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross was verifiably awarded only once, to Hans-Ulrich Rudel on 29 December 1944.
In post-World War II Germany, the Federal Republic of Germany prohibited the wearing of Nazi insignia. In 1957 the German government authorized a replacement Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, with an oak leaf cluster in place of the swastika, which could be worn by World War II Knight's Cross recipients. (Read more)
Werner Goldberg (October 3, 1919 – September 28, 2004) was a German who was of half Jewish ancestry, or Mischling in Nazi terminology, who served briefly as a soldier during World War II and whose image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as "The Ideal German Soldier", and his image was later used in recruitment posters for the Wehrmacht. 1935 Nuremberg Laws classed persons with three Jewish grandparents as Jewish; those with two Jewish grandparents would be considered Jewish only if they practised the faith or had a Jewish spouse. Therefore Werner Goldberg was considered an "Aryan" German by Nazi authorities because of his German non-Jewish mother.
Goldberg's father grew up in Königsberg as a member of the Jewish community but he had himself baptized in the local Lutheran church as he wished to become assimilated and marry a Christian. After Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Mr. Goldberg lost his position under the Nazi law of April 1933, Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, which expelled Jews from the German Civil Service.
At the beginning of 1938 Goldberg served a six-month term in the Reich Labour Service whose uniform, as Goldberg later recalled, "had a swastika on an armband". On December 1, 1938 Goldberg joined the German Army. He took part in the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, serving alongside childhood friend Karl Wolf, whose father was now a high-ranking SS officer.
Shortly after the beginning of the War, Goldberg's photograph appeared in the Sunday edition of the Berliner Tagesblatt newspaper with the caption "The Ideal German Soldier"; the photograph had been sold to the newspaper by the official army photographer. It was later used on recruitment posters. (Read more)