The Knights Cross of the Iron Cross was instituted on September 1st, 1939, and has come to be known as one of the most recognized awards of World War Two. Awarded for acts of extreme bravery during combat, or successful leadership resulting in extraordinary success, the Knights Cross and its subsequent grades was among Germany’s highest military decorations. The Knights Cross was worn around the neck, suspended by a black, red, and white ribbon. Every member of Germany’s armed forces were eligible to be awarded the Knights Cross, provided the requirements of awarding had been met. The awarding process determining whether or not a soldier was worthy of the award began as a recommendation at the company level. This recommendation was then reviewed and either approved or denied. Upon approval it would continue up the chain of command, all the way to Adolf Hitler himself making the final judgment. The Knights Cross was awarded 7,364 times during the course of the war. It is estimated that approximately 20,000 Knights Crosses were produced between September 1939 to May 1945.
The Knights Cross was constructed of three separate pieces, a core and two outer frames. The core, made of iron, zinc, or brass, was placed between the two outer silver frames and delicately hand soldered together. The Cross was then suspended by a large loop through the frames top eyelet. A ribbon of black, white, and red was then threaded through the suspension loop. The production of the Knights Cross was strictly regulated. Only the companies granted approval by the government were legally allowed to produce the Knights Cross.