Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Date Instituted:

June 3rd, 1940

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, 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, 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, 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:

July 19th, 1940 – to Eduard Dietl

Number Awarded:

882 to Germans, 8 to foreigners = 890 total

Complete listing of Oakleave Holders

Distribution Statistics of the Knights Cross with Oakleaves

Rank on day of awardHeerWaffen-SSKriegsmarineLuftwaffeForeignersTotals
Generalfeldmarschall/ Grossadmiral611311
Generaloberst / Generaladmiral113115
General d. Inf. usw. / Admiral5082464
Generalleutnant / Vizeadmiral77615291
Generalmajor / Konteradmiral43915159
Oberst / Kapitän zur See781258103
Oberstleutnant / Fregattenkapitän471931988
Major /Korvettenkapitän73911531147
Hauptmann/ Kapitänleutnant6862476174
Oberleutnant / Oberleutnant zurSee19454068
Leutnant / Leutnant zur See1112133
Stabsfeldwebel /Stabswachtmeister11
Oberfeldwebel /Oberwachtmeister17724
Feldwebel /Wachtmeister549
Unteroffizier / Oberjäger33
Grand totals50974532468890

* These stats are only for the distribution of the Knight’s Cross withOakleaves, and notthe 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 was worn in the same manner as theoriginal Knight’s Cross, the only differance beingin the addition of oakleaves above the Knight’s Cross itself.

Notes:

The Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves was the next higher grade of the Knight’sCross above the original, and as such, was an even more highly regardedaward. The number awarded during WWII, 890, is atestiment to the great honor attached to this award. Like the Knight’s Cross,the RK with Oakleaves could also be awarded to foreigners and was alsoawarded to commanders in recognition of the valor of the unit they commanded.Of the 882 German holders of the RK with Oakleaves, 96 are known to be aliveas of 1999 and 234 (27%) are known to have been killed in action or arelisted as missing in action during WWII.
The Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves
Bruno Dilley
Oakleaves holder