top of page

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

The Knight's Cross was the the most desired military award recognizing extreme battlefield bravery, or outstanding 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 Hermann Göring. The Knight's Cross was therefore practically the highest order that German soldiers of all ranks could obtain.

The Knight's Cross grade of the Iron Cross was worn at the neck and was slightly larger Iron Cross. Its first presentation was made on 30 September 1939, following the German Invasion of Poland. As the war progressed, some of the recipients distinguished themselves further, and a higher grade, the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross (Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub), was instituted in 1940. In 1941, two higher grades were instituted - the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern) and the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz 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 mit goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten), was created. The Golden Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross were awarded only once - to Hans-Ulrich Rudel on 29 December 1944.


Documentation involved:

At first, the recipient of the Knight's Cross, or one of its higher grades, received a brief telegram informing him of the award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Thereafter he received a Vorläufiges Besitzzeugnis (Preliminary Testimonial of Ownership). It was followed by a more elaborate and formal award document (referred to below as "official"). Sometimes, Hitler's signature was a facsimile, but when time allowed, he did sign them. The "official" documents for the plain Knight's Cross were used only until 1942, when the number of recipients made it possible for such grand documents to be made only for the higher grades of the order.


Krause's Knight's Cross collection includes:

  1. Knight's Cross certificates:

  2. Oak-Leaves certificates:​​

  3. Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds


There's also Heroes Collection of Krause Papierwerke with number of Knight's Cross certificates and signed photographs of famous generals.

bottom of page