Information: Badges & Awards: Iron Cross
Adolf Hitler restored the Iron Cross in 1939 as a German decoration (rather than Prussian as in earlier versions), continuing the tradition of issuing it in various grades. The Iron Cross of the Second World War was divided into three main series of decorations with an intermediate category, the Knight's Cross, instituted between the lowest, the Iron Cross, and the highest, the Grand Cross.
The Knight's Cross replaced the Prussian Pour le Mérite. Hitler did not care for the Pour le Mérite, as it was a Prussian order that could be awarded only to officers. The ribbon of the medal (2nd class and Knight's Cross) was different from the earlier Iron Crosses in that the color red was used in addition to the traditional black and white (black and white were the colors of Prussia, while black, white, and red were the colors of Germany). Hitler also created the War Merit Cross as a replacement for the noncombatant version of the Iron Cross.

The standard 1939 Iron Cross was issued in the following two grades:

* Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse)
* Iron Cross 1st Class (Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse)

The Iron Cross was awarded for bravery in battle as well as other military contributions in a battlefield environment.

Iron Cross Second Class Obverse
The Iron Cross 2nd Class came with a ribbon and was worn in one of three different methods:

* From the second button of the tunic.
* When in formal dress, the entire cross was worn mounted alone or as part of a medal bar.
* For everyday wear, only the ribbon was worn from the second hole in the tunic button.

The Iron Cross First Class was a pin-on medal with no ribbon and was worn centered on a uniform breast pocket.

The Iron Cross was a progressive award, with second class having to be earned before the first class and so on for the higher degrees.

It is estimated that some five million Second Class Iron Crosses were awarded in the Second World War, and 730,000 in the First Class. Two Iron Cross First Class recipients were women, one of whom was test pilot Hanna Reitsch. Two Jewish officers of the Finnish army and one female Lotta Svärd member were awarded Iron Crosses, but they would not accept them.

Iron Cross Second Class Reverse

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