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The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) and its variants were the highest award in the military of the Third Reich. Recipients are grouped by grades of the Knight's Cross. During World War II, 23 German sailors and officers of the Schnellboot (Fast Attack Craft) service, which was a part of the Kriegsmarine, received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Of these, 8 officers received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub).[1]

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grades were based on four separate enactments. The first enactment Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 1573 of 1 September 1939 instituted the Iron Cross and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.[2] As the war progressed, some of the recipients distinguished themselves further and a higher grade, the Oak Leaves to Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, was instituted. The Oak Leaves, as they were commonly referred to, were based on the enactment Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 849 of 3 June 1940.[3] In 1941, two higher grades of the Knight's Cross were instituted. The enactment Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 613 of 28 September 1941 introduced the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.[4] At the end of 1944 the final grade, the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten), based on the enactment Reichsgesetzblatt 1945 I S. 11 of 29 December 1944, concluded the variants of the Knight's Cross.[5]

The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht kept separate Knight's Cross lists, one for each of the three military branches, Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy), Luftwaffe (Air force) and for the Waffen-SS. Within each of these lists a unique sequential number was assigned to each recipient. The same numbering paradigm was applied to the higher grades of the Knight's Cross, one list per grade.[6]

Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves[edit | edit source]

The Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves was based on the enactment Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 849 of 3 June 1940. The last officially announced number for the Oak Leaves was 843.[7]

Number Name Rank Unit Date of award Notes
143 Töniges, WernerWerner Töniges Kapitänleutnant commander of Schnellboot S-102 in the 1. Schnellbootsflottille 13 November 1942
226 Wuppermann, SiegfriedSiegfried Wuppermann Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-56 in the 3. Schnellbootflottille 14 April 1943
249 Kemnade, FriedrichFriedrich Kemnade Korvettenkapitän chief of the 3. Schnellbootflottille 27 May 1943
326 Christiansen, GeorgGeorg Christiansen Korvettenkapitän chief of the 1. Schnellbootflottille 13 November 1943
361 Klug, Bernd-GeorgBernd-Georg Klug Korvettenkapitän chief of the 5. Schnellbootflottille 1 January 1944
362 Feldt, KlausKlaus Feldt Korvettenkapitän chief of the 2. Schnellbootflottille 1 January 1944
499 Petersen, RudolfRudolf Petersen Kapitän zur See Führer der Schnellboote 13 June 1944
500 Mirbach, Gotz Freiherr vonGötz Freiherr von Mirbach Kapitänleutnant chief of the 9. Schnellbootflottille 14 June 1944

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross[edit | edit source]

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross is based on the enactment Reichsgesetzblatt I S. 1573 of 1 September 1939 Verordnung über die Erneuerung des Eisernen Kreuzes (Regulation of the renewing of the Iron Cross).

Number Name Rank Unit Date of award Notes
1 Opdenhoff, HermannHermann Opdenhoff Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-31 in the 2. Schnellbootflottille 16 May 1940 Killed in action 22 March 1945[8]
2 Birnbacher, HeinzHeinz Birnbacher Kapitänleutnant chief of the 1. Schnellbootflottille 17 June 1940
3 Petersen, RudolfRudolf Petersen Korvettenkapitän chief of the 2. Schnellbootflottille 4 August 1940 Awarded 499th Oak Leaves 13 June 1944
4 Fimmen, KurtKurt Fimmen Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-26 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 14 August 1940
5 Mirbach, Götz Freiherr vonGötz Freiherr von Mirbach Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-21 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 14 August 1940 Awarded 500th Oak Leaves 14 June 1944
6 Toniges, WernerWerner Töniges Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-102 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 25 February 1941 Awarded 143rd Oak Leaves 13 November 1942
7 Klug, Bernd-GeorgBernd-Georg Klug Kapitänleutnant commander of Schnellboot S-28 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 12 March 1941 Awarded 361st Oak Leaves 1 January 1944
8 Feldt, KlausKlaus Feldt Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-30 in the 2. Schnellbootflottille 25 April 1941 Awarded 362nd Oak Leaves 1 January 1944
9 Christiansen, GeorgGeorg Christiansen Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-101 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 8 May 1941 Awarded 326th Oak Leaves 13 November 1943
10 Wuppermann, SiegfriedSiegfried Wuppermann Oberleutnant of the Reserves commander of Schnellboot S-60 in the 3. Schnellbootflottille 3 August 1941 Awarded 226th Oak Leaves 14 April 1943
11 Batge, NielsNiels Bätge Kapitänleutnant chief of the 4. Schnellbootflottille 4 January 1942 Killed in action 12 December 1944[9]
12 Kemnade, FriedrichFriedrich Kemnade Kapitänleutnant chief of the 3. Schnellbootflottille 23 July 1942 Awarded 249th Oak Leaves 27 May 1943
13 Buchting, HermannHermann Büchting Kapitänleutnant commander of Schnellboot S-27 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 22 April 1943
14 Weber, HorstHorst Weber Oberleutnant zur See of the Reserves commander of Schnellboot S-55 in the 3. Schnellbootflottille 5 July 1943
15 Muller, KarlKarl Müller Kapitänleutnant commander of Schnellboot S-52 in the 5. Schnellbootflottille 8 July 1943
16 Karcher, Karl-EhrhartKarl-Ehrhart Karcher Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-87 in the 4. Schnellbootflottille 12 August 1943
17 Künzel, Karl-FriedrichKarl-Friedrich Künzel Oberleutnant zur See group leader and commander of Schnellboot S-28 in the 1. Schnellbootflottille 12 December 1943
18 Muller, AlbertAlbert Müller Kapitänleutnant commander of Schnellboot S-59 in the 3. Schnellbootflottille 13 December 1943
19 Schmidt, Klaus-DegenhardKlaus-Degenhard Schmidt Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-54 in the 10 Schnellbootflottille 22 December 1943 Killed in action 22 December 1944[10]
20 Johannsen, KurtKurt Johannsen Kapitänleutnant chief of the 5. Schnellbootflottille 14 June 1944 Killed in action 14 June 1944[8]
21 Haag, HeinzHeinz Haag Oberleutnant zur See commander of Schnellboot S-60 in the 3. Schnellbootflottille 25 November 1944
22 Zymalkowski, FelixFelix Zymalkowski Korvettenkapitän chief of the 8. Schnellbootflottille 10 April 1945
23 Matzen, Ingwer(Jens)Ingwer(Jens) Matzen Korvettenkapitän chief of the 6. Schnellbootflottille 2 May 1945

References[edit | edit source]

Specific
  1. Kurowski 2007, p. 154–155
  2. "Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I S. 1573; 1 September 1939" (PDF). ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19390007&zoom=2&seite=00001573&ues=on&x=21&y=6. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  3. "Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I S. 849; 3 June 1940" (PDF). ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19400007&zoom=2&seite=00000849&ues=on&x=22&y=10. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  4. "Reichsgesetzblatt Teil I S. 613; 28 September 1941" (PDF). ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19410007&zoom=2&seite=00000613&ues=on&x=14&y=9. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  5. "Reichsgesetzblatt 1945 I S. 11; 29 December 1944" (PDF). ALEX Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. http://alex.onb.ac.at/cgi-content/anno-plus?apm=0&aid=dra&datum=19450007&zoom=2&seite=00000011&ues=on&x=14&y=10. Retrieved 2008-02-21. 
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p.112.
  7. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 102.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Kurowski 2007, p. 155.
  9. Range 1974, p. 53.
  10. Range 1974, p. 152.
General
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Wölfersheim-Berstadt, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Kurowski, Franz (2007). Korvettenkapitän Werner Töniges Der erste Eichenlaubträger der Schnellbootwaffe. Flechsig Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88189-737-2.
  • Range, Clemens (1974). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Kriegsmarine. Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-87943-355-0.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Ritterkreuzträger 1939 - 1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.

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