||This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (November 2012)|
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
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 17 November 1941. It was awarded in two divisions. It was awarded in 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).
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 righthand pocket of the tunic. If a recipient was awarded both the silver and gold divisions, both of them could not be worn on the uniform.
Only the golden division of the award was officially also 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 and bestowed.
In 1957 alternative 'de-nazified' replacement versions of the German Cross were authorised 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. Veterans who had earned the German Cross during the Third Reich were therefore unable to wear it after this change. The wearing of Nazi-era decorations in any form continued to be banned in the German Democratic Republic.
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:
The following 22 foreign soldiers from the allied armed forces were awarded the German Cross in Gold:
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".
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