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German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945
WW2-German-Iron-Cross-Oakbar

Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords


Date Instituted:

September 28th, 1941

Awarded To:

Officers and men of all ranks within any branch of the Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS or the auxiliary service organizations.

Required Qualifications*:

In general:
  • The previous award of the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, and
  • Continued performance of outstanding actions of combat bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
For the Luftwaffe:
  • The previous award of the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, and
  • Continued accumulation of points, 1 point for downing a single-engine aircraft, 2 points for a twin-engine aircraft and 3 points for a four-engine aircraft. All points were x2 at night. This total was continuously raised as the war went on.
For the Kriegsmarine:
  • The previous award of the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, and
  • Continued accumulation of tons of shipping sunk for Uboots, and/or
  • Continued performance of outstanding actions of combat bravery above and beyond the call of duty.

*Criteria often changed throughout the war

First Awarded:

June 21st, 1941 - to Adolf Galland

Number Awarded:

159 to Germans, 1 to a foreigner = 160 total

Complete listing of Oakleave and Sword Holders
Distribution Statistics of the Knights Cross with Oakleaves and Swords
Rank on day of award Heer Waffen-SS Kriegsmarine Luftwaffe Foreigners Totals
Generalfeldmarschall / Grossadmiral 4 1 1 6
Generaloberst / Generaladmiral 8 1 1 10
General d. Inf. usw. / Admiral 21 4 1 26
Generalleutnant / Vizeadmiral 13 3 2 18
Generalmajor / Konteradmiral 12 4 16
Oberst / Kapitän zur See 7 6 7 20
Oberstleutnant / Fregattenkapitän 8 4 6 18
Major / Korvettenkapitän 3 1 1 13 18
Hauptmann / Kapitänleutnant 1 4 15 20
Oberleutnant / Oberleutnant zur See 1 5 6
Leutnant / Leutnant zur See 1 1
Oberfeldwebel / Oberwachtmeister 1 1
Grand Total 77 24 5 53 1 160

* These stats are only for the distribution of the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves and Swords, and not the many other grades of the RK

Grades/Variations:

During the time of the Third Reich, the range of categories of the Iron Cross were as follows:

The Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Grand Cross of the Iron Cross


The various grades of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross specifically are discussed within seperate entries due to the great importance of each grade. The grades of the Knight's Cross were as follows:

Knight's Cross
Knight's Cross w. Oakleaves
Knight's Cross w. Oakleave, Swords
Knight's Cross w. Oakleaves, Swords, Diamonds
K.Cross w. Golden Oakleaves, Swords, Diamonds

Method of Wear:

The Knight's Cross with Oakleaves and Swords was worn in the same manner as the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, the only differance being in the addition of a set of crossed swords to the oakleaves above the Knight's Cross itself.

Notes:

The Knight's Cross with Oakleaves and Swords was the next higher grade of the Knight's Cross above the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, and as such, was an even more highly regarded award than all those previous. This grade of the RK was actually instituted after the first award of it was presented! The number awarded during WWII, 160, is a testiment to the even greater honor attached to this award. Like the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, the RK with Oakleaves and Swords could also be awarded to foreigners and was also awarded to commanders in recognition of the valor of the unit they commanded. Of the 160 holders of the RK with Oakleaves and Swords, 14 are known to be alive in 1999 and of the 159 German holders, 38 (24%) are known to have been killed in action or are listed as missing in action during WWII.
The Knights Cross with Oakleaves
Swords to the Oakleave cluster
worn above the RK itself
Otto Weidinger
Oakleave and Swords holder