German WWII Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
The "Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds" is based on the enactment Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 613 of 28 September 1941 to reward those servicemen who had already been awarded the Oak Leaves with Swords to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Ultimately, it would be awarded to only twenty-seven German soldiers, sailors and airmen, ranging from young fighter pilots to field marshals.
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest awards in the military of the Third Reich. Recipients are grouped by grades of the Knight's Cross. Within each grade the recipients are ordered chronologically. An exception is the lowest grade, here the recipients are ordered alphabetically by last name. The rank listed is the recipient's rank at the time the Knight's Cross was awarded. Broken out into sub lists are the recipients of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, one list for every year between 1940 and 1945 the award was presented. Also listed separately are the alphabetical lists of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross recipients. The foreign recipients of the Knight's Cross and the foreign recipients of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves are listed separately as well.
The last legal presentation of the Knight's Cross, in any of its grades, had to be made before 23:01 Central European Time 8 May 1945, the time when the German surrender became effective. A number of presentations were made after this date, the last on 17 June 1945. These late presentations are considered de facto but not de jure awards. In 1986, the Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR) acknowledged 7,321 presentations made to the members of the three military branches of the Wehrmacht—the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force)—as well as the Waffen-SS, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD—Reich Labour Service) and the Volkssturm (German national militia). There were also 43 recipients in the military forces of allies of the Third Reich for a total of 7,364 recipients. Analysis of the German Federal Archives revealed evidence for 7,161 officially—de facto and de jure—bestowed recipients, including one additional presentation previously unidentified by the AKCR. The AKCR names 890 recipients of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross, including the eight recipients who served in the military forces of allies of the Third Reich. The German Federal Archives do not substantiate 27 of these Oak Leaves recipients. The Swords to the Knight's Cross were awarded 160 times according to the AKCR, among them the posthumous presentation to the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, 13 of which cannot be supported by the German Federal Archives. The Diamonds to the Knight's Cross were awarded 27 times, all of which are verifiable in the German Federal Archives. The final grade, the Golden Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross was verifiably awarded once to Hans-Ulrich Rudel on 29 December 1944.