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 orthe 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 aboveand 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 pointsfor a twin-engine aircraft and 3 points for a four-engine aircraft. All points werex2 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 aboveand 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 awardHeerWaffen-SSKriegsmarineLuftwaffeForeignersTotals
Generalfeldmarschall /
Grossadmiral
4116
Generaloberst / Generaladmiral81110
General d. Inf. usw. / Admiral214126
Generalleutnant / Vizeadmiral133218
Generalmajor / Konteradmiral12416
Oberst / Kapitän zur See76720
Oberstleutnant /
Fregattenkapitän
84618
Major / Korvettenkapitän3111318
Hauptmann /
Kapitänleutnant
141520
Oberleutnant / Oberleutnant zur See156
Leutnant / Leutnant zur See11
Oberfeldwebel / Oberwachtmeister11
Grand Total77245531160

* These stats are only for the distribution of the Knight’s Cross withOakleaves 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 Crosswere 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 arediscussed within seperate entries due to the great importanceof 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 beingin the addition of a set of crossed swords to the oakleaves above theKnight’s Cross itself.

Notes:

The Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves and Swords was the next higher grade of the Knight’sCross above the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves, and as such, was an even more highly regardedaward than all those previous. This grade of the RK was actually institutedafter the first award of it was presented! The number awarded during WWII, 160, is atestiment to the even greater honor attached to this award. Like the Knight’s Crosswith Oakleaves, the RK with Oakleaves and Swords could also be awarded to foreigners and was alsoawarded 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 bealive in 1999 and of the 159 German holders, 38 (24%) are known to havebeen killed in action or are listed as missing in action during WWII.
The Knights Cross with Oakleaves
The Knights Cross with Oakleaves
Swords to the Oakleave cluster
Swords to the Oakleave cluster
worn above the RK itself
Otto Weidinger - Oakleave and Swords holder
Otto Weidinger
Oakleave and Swords holder