Also known as the War Order of the German Cross, this award was given for distinguished service or gallantry within the German armed forces. It was instituted by Adolf Hitler on September 28 1941 and stood at one grade higher than the Iron Cross First Class, but below the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. The German Cross was more of a pendant and did not form one of the Iron Cross order of decoration. Hence, it was possible for a recipient to be awarded the German Cross independently of any of the Iron Crosses.
The German Cross comes in two grades; Silver and Gold. The German Cross in Silver was awarded for distinguished service in a non-combatant role. The medal was worn on the right hand pocket of the jacket and had a swastika, encircled by a silver wreath within a star. In the U-boat force, Kapitan zur See Hans-Georg von Friedburg was awarded with this medal on June 6 1942. He was a staff officer in BdU.
The German Cross in Gold was awarded for distinguished service in a combat role and consisted of a swastika, encircled by a golden wreath within a star. If a recipient received both the silver and gold awards, both of them could be worn on the uniform. A total of 530 servicemen in the U-boat force received this award. The first to receive this award was Kapitanleutnant Otto Salman, the commander of U-52.
The German Cross was also available in a cloth or embroidered version. Due to the often harsh combat situation, the cloth version was usually worn in the front lines. In total, some 30,000 of both grades were awarded during the Second World War.
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