German U-Boat

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U-Boat Medals & Awards

In the German armed forces, decorations were awarded according to merits, without regard to the rank of the servicemen. Germany presented many awards to recognize officers and men for acts of courage, heroism, and valor. These awards could be earned in several ways, from having served on a number of missions, to being involved in a particularly successful mission, to acts of bravery and gallantry. Servicemen killed or wounded in the line of duty would also receive an award, which in the event of death, the medal would be presented to the next of kin. Some awards were also designed to recognize service, rather than valor.

In the U-boat force, the crew of a boat often associated closely with their captain. This was even more pronounced if the boat was particularly successful and the crew were very proud if their commander had been awarded a medal. If a message was received while still at sea that their captain was to be awarded a medal, the crew would often delay the news to him until they had a cake to present to him as well. As soon as the boat docked, Donitz would personally greet the returning crew and presented the medals to them.

The German Medals and Awards presented here are categorized into two sections; general decorations awarded to all organizations of the armed forces, and those that were specific to the U-boat arm.

Admiral Raeder presents the Knight's Cross to Otto Kretschmer Hitler decorates Gunther Prien after the attack on Scapa Flow
Admiral Erich Raeder awards the Knight's Cross to Otto Kretschmer in August 1940. Later in November, Oak Leaves were added when he reached 200,000 tons of tonnage sunk. Adolf Hitler personally decorates Gunther Prien after the sinking of the British battleship Royal Oak in Scapa Flow.

General Military Decorations

The Iron Cross
Although Germany gave many different awards for valor, the Iron Cross in its various grades was the primary and most famous award recognizing valor. It was first instituted on March 10, 1813 by King...
Knight's Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a highly prized medal recognizing extreme acts of valor within the German armed forces. Originally instituted in 1813, the Knight’s Cross of the Second World...
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was introduced on June 3rd, 1940 to further recognize acts of courage. As with the...
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
An even higher grade of the Knight’s Cross was introduced on July 15, 1941 to further recognize Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves recipients...
Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
Introduced the same time with the Oak Leaves and Swords, many consider this to be the highest award that can be earned during...
Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
This war decoration was of the highest order that could be awarded to servicemen under the German military during the Nazi regime...
German Cross
The German Cross was a distinguished medal awarded for outstanding service or valor within the German armed forces. It was...

U-Boat Decorations

U-boat War Badge
The U-boat War Badge was originally instituted during the First World War on February 1st 1918. It was awarded to recognize U-boat crews who had completed three war patrols...
U-boat War Badge with Diamonds
The U-boat Badge with Diamonds was a special issue award given to U-boat commanders who had received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...
U-boat Front Clasp
The U-boat Front Clasp, or Combat Clasp as it was better known was awarded to holders of the U-boat War Badge to recognize continued combat service and valor. It was...

U-995 German Type VIIC U-Boat

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