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Oak Leaves, Swords, Diamonds, etc.

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Gibson, Nov 27, 2002.

  1. Gibson

    Gibson Member

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    A thought just occured to me when reviewing a particular college's information, what is the significance of the German Oak Leaves, Swords, Diamonds on their Knight's Crosses? I have heard of Oak Leaves for bravery but do not know the story behind it, or why those particular additions were chosen for add-on awards for the Knights Cross.

    Can anyone fill me in as to why and how this came to be? I am very eager to know this as I have never given it much thought. Thanks!
     
  2. Kiwi Ace

    Kiwi Ace Member

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    They were like repeat awards of the Knights Cross.

    First you got the Knight Cross then

    Oak Leaves
    Swords
    Diamonds
    Golden Oak Leaves (Rudel)
     
  3. Panzerknacker

    Panzerknacker New Member

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    I think what he means is why choose the oakleaves, swords and diamonds as add-ons???
     
  4. Kiwi Ace

    Kiwi Ace Member

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    Duh!
    :D

    Well the Oaks are one of Germanys national symbols. The swords are just a obivious choice and the diamonds, well we all want those in medal, don't we!

    I may be wrong, but I tried.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    That would be interesting to know if someone has the info!

    Something on the history on upgrades:

    As it was first conceived, the Iron Cross had only three grades: 2nd class, 1st class, and Grand Cross, and it remained thus until the Second World War. During the war Hitler, who had won the 1st and 2nd class Iron Cross in World War I, added five additional grades, mostly as a morale booster. As a result, by the end of the war there were eight grades to the award.

    Hitler instituted the next successive grade of the Knights Cross. The Oak Leaves and Swords (Eichenlaub und Schwertern), authorized on July 15th 1941, were created as a further incentive to the Legions of men now moving East. The criteria for the Swords followed the same pattern as the Oak Leaves. Individuals presented with this award represented the best fighting men Germany had to offer. Members of the Heer and SS needed to have the most impressive portfolio in order to be considered, not only bravery but also combat and leadership skills were needed to rise above the rest and be recognized with the Swords. Lufftwaffe personnel followed the same points system as in the preceding classes, with only the most experienced aces reaching the points required. The first recipient of the award was the famous Lufftwaffe officer Oberstleutnant Adolf Gallant, who received the Clasp on June 21st 1941 after attaining his 69th air victory in the west (before the award was even officially instituted). Only the most experienced U-boat aces are found in the Swords winner list. One of them is Freggattenkapitan Erich Topp, who received the Swords on the 17th of August 1942. Up to that point he had sunk over 243,000 tons of allied shipping.

    A total of 159 Oak Leaves with Swords were presented during the war, a number that reflects the high standards required to achieve the Swords and the exclusiveness of the award. Only one foreign Officer was awarded the Oak Leaves and Swords, Japanese Grand Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who was presented with the awards posthumously in 1943.

    http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=The%20Grades%20of%20the%20Iron%20Cross

    http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/iron_cross/swords/swords.htm
     
  6. Gibson

    Gibson Member

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    Thanks for the history Kai. You learn something new every time you visit here!
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Seek and you shall find..or something like that?!

    I think I´ve found a piece of the puzzle?

    On Pour le Merite :

    Following the death of his wife, Queen Louise, Frederick determined to create the 'Oakleaves' in her honour.

    That´s just one piece but still!

    :D
     
  8. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Indeed, the famous "Odre pour le Mérite", the highest military Prussian award since the 1860s, I think had a higher grade, which was the "Odre pour le Mérite" with Oakleaves. I have only seen Kaiser Wilhelm II and field marshal Helmuth Graf von Moltke with them. Really impressive medal!
     
  9. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    During World War I the Pour Le Merite or PLM was the highest award for valor. The problem with the PLM is that it could only be awarded to officers. Adolf Hitler, an enlisted man in World War I, decided to change that when he became Chancellor and then Fuehrer of Germany. When he launched Germany into a second world war just twenty-one years later, he decided to have a decoration that would bridge the gap between the Iron Cross 1st Class and the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross. In addition he wanted a decoration that could be awarded regardless of rank. Out of this debacle the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was born.

    During World War Two 1,676 NCO's and enlisted men won this award.

    A misconception is that the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded more to Generals than any other rank. This of course is farthest from the truth. Only 6.9% of the German Generals received this award. Or simply put, 502 German Generals received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

    The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
     
  11. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Interesting. Now I thought that the Knight's Cross was awarded for bravery. So why was it awarded to the likes of Keitel who never came close to the battlefield? Was it also awarded on the basis of some kind of achievement? If so, then again, why the likes of Keitel? Hee Hee. :p
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Found it:

    "In 1940, after the French campaign, he was promoted to Field Marshal along with several other generals. Unusually for a non-field commander, Keitel was awarded the Knight's Cross for arranging the armistice with France."

    Wilhelm Keitel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  13. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    personally I think there were promised made to the old shriveled up Prussian to keep his yap shut. Keitel I cannot see at all receiving this so-called coveted award.



    Remember the field tunic could only take some many badges, reason enough to make the award of degree even greater by "adding-on" such as Eichenlaub and Diamonds. interesting though too that some members have felt the wearing of the Dk in Gold being more meaningful that the RK.
     
  14. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    It is a misconception thar the KC was awarded only for bravery :eek:nly few generals could get it !:D
    It was also awarded for gaining a victory:after the Polish campaign,the chiefs of the army,air force and navy got the KC,later also Halder,Jeschonnek,even Fromm(chief of the reserve army ).
    Of course,the higher in rank,the more chances to get the KC;)
    About Keitel(de facto minister of war) his KC was not that exceptional ;after the war against France(1871) the Prussian minister of war(von Roon )became a fieldmarshall and a count .
     
  15. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    that the FM were privileged,some ex.
    Bock :KC in 194O
    Brauchitz:KC in 1939
    Busch:KC in 1940 and EL in 1943
    Keitel:KC in 194O
    Kleist :KC in 194O,EL in 1942,SW in 1944 (compensation for beying ousted:cool:)
    Kluge::KC in 1939,EL in 1943,SW in 1943
    Kuchler:KC in 1939,EL in 1943
    Leeb:KC in 1940
    List:KC in 1939
    Manstein:KC in 194O,EL in 1943,SW in 1944 (fired)
    Model:KC in 1941,EL in 1942,SW in 1943,DIA in 1944
    Paulus:KC in 1942,EL in 1943
    Reichenau :KC in 1939
    Rommel:KC in 1940,EL in 1941,SW in 1942,DIA in 1943
    Rundstedt :KC in 1939,EL in 1944 (fired),SW in 1945 (fired)
    Schorner:KC in 1941,EL in 1944,SW in 1944,DIA in 1945
    Weichs :KC in 1940,EL in 1945
    Witzleben :KC in 194O
    Rader:KC in 1939
    Donitz:KC in 194O,EL in 1943
    Goring :KC in 1939
    Greim:KC in 1940,EL in 1943,SW in 1944
    Kesselking:KC in 1939,EL in 1942,SW in 1942,DIA in 1944
    Milch:KC in 1940
    Sperrle :KC in 1940
    One rectification:Bock got his KC in 1939
    OTOH:there was one civilian (in 1945?) who got the KC for rendering harmless an air bomb .
    Of course,as always:cool:,there was an inflation:most KC and higher were awarded in the last years(same happened with the PLM in WW I )
     
  16. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

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    about the inflation :awards of the Oak leaves (EL)
    194O :7
    1941 :50 (17 on 31 december)
    1942:111
    1943:192
    1944:328
    1945:155 + 39 non officially

    Swords:
    1941:5
    1942:18
    1943:19
    1944:76
    1945:41
    Diamonds:
    1941:1
    1942:4
    1943:4
    1944:13
    1945:5
     

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