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Grand Cross of the Iron Cross

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) was a decoration intended for victorious generals of the Prussian Army and its allies. It was the second highest class of the Iron Cross, following the Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross, which was awarded only twice. Along with the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, the Grand Cross was founded on 10 March 1813, during the Napoleonic Wars. It was renewed in 1870 for the Franco-Prussian War and again in 1914 for World War I. In 1939, when Adolf Hitler renewed the Iron Cross as a German (rather than strictly Prussian) decoration, he also renewed the Grand Cross.

The Grand Cross of the Iron Cross was twice the size of the Iron Cross and was worn from a ribbon around the neck. The later Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, instituted in 1939, was also worn from the neck; it was smaller than the Grand Cross but larger than the Iron Cross.

1813 Grand Cross

1813 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
1813 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden, wearing the 1813 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
Crown Prince Charles John of Sweden, wearing the 1813 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.

Five men received the 1813 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross for actions during the Napoleonic Wars:

1870 Grand Cross

1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (later to reign briefly as Kaiser Friedrich III) wearing the 1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (later to reign briefly as Kaiser Friedrich III) wearing the 1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.

The Iron Cross was renewed on 19 July 1870, for the Franco-Prussian War. Nine men received the 1870 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross for service during that war. Seven Grand Crosses were awarded on 22 March 1871, to:

Kaiser Wilhelm I received the Grand Cross on 16 June 1871, and Friedrich Franz II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, received it on 4 December 1871. The Kaiser was supreme commander of the Prussian Army, and Moltke was Chief of the General Staff. The others were senior combat commanders of the Prussian Army (Crown Prince Albert initially commanded the Saxon Army as a corps under a Prussian field army, but later took command of a combined Prussian/Saxon field army).

1914 Grand Cross

1914 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
1914 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
Recipients of the 1914 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.
Recipients of the 1914 Grand Cross of the Iron Cross.

The Iron Cross was renewed again on 5 August 1914. There were five recipients of the 1914 Grand Cross in the First World War:

1939 Grand Cross

1939 Grand Cross by S&L
1939 Grand Cross by S&L

Adolf Hitler reinstituted the Iron Cross as a German decoration in September 1939, with the Grand Cross again the highest grade (above the various classes of the Knight's Cross).

Hermann Göring became the only recipient of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II when it was awarded to him on 19 July 1940 for his role as the Supreme Commander of the Luftwaffe who lead them to victory in the French campaign. [1]

A World War II version of the higher Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross was devised, but never formally instituted or awarded. Following the Allied victory in May 1945, the US Army seized the only known prototype, which is now a part of the collection of the Museum of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.[2]

References

  • Angolia, John R. (1976). For Führer and Fatherland: Military Awards of the Third Reich. R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 0-912138-14-9.
  • Littlejohn, David; Dodkins, Colonel C. M. (1968). Orders, Decorations, Medals and Badges of the Third Reich. R. James Bender Publishing, California. ISBN 978-0854200801.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 May 2021, at 10:21
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