Iron Cross Nazi German Wehrmacht WWII Third Reich (Drittes Reich) Eisernes Kreuz 1939
Iron Cross — Prussian and German military decoration (order).
Established by Friedrich Wilhelm III on March 10, 1813 for military distinctions manifested in the war for the liberation of Germany from Napoleon. The Order was awarded to all categories of servicemen, regardless of rank or class. The awarding of the order proceeded sequentially from the lowest to the highest. Resumed with each new war.
The Iron Cross was the first European award, which was given regardless of rank, rank or class, but only for military exploits, which greatly increased its popularity.
At the bottom of the cross, the year of establishment of this version of the order was always indicated (1813, 1870, 1914 or 1939). In 1813, the upper beam of the cross was decorated with the initials of King Friedrich Wilhelm III (FW), in the center of the order was an oak branch. In 1871 and 1914, in the center were the initials, respectively, Kaiser Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II, and in the upper part — the stylized Prussian royal crown. Restoring the order in 1939, Adolf Hitler ordered to add a swastika to the center of the order instead of his initials to show that the National Socialist state is the basis of this award.