German Military Medals
German Medals and Decorations of WWII
By Stephen Sherman, Nov. 2008. Updated July 14, 2011.
During World War Two, Nazi Germany issued an astounding number of medals, badges, decorations, pins, and awards. There were at least two reasons for this, 1) As a nation at war with limited resources, rewarding and motivating soldiers and civilians was important, but not that much could be spared. Thus, they could not afford to give their war heroes gold-plated limousines. Medals and badges were a cheap alternative.
2) As typical of totalitarian regimes, the Nazis valued (and knew how to use) propaganda. Thus, ceremonies and newsreel coverage of the medals and awards motivated not only the recipients, but the mass population as well.
Shown here on these pages are many, but not all, of the German medals in WW2. Most well-known are the Iron Crosses, and its higher grades, Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross, etc. There are also sections on other, strictly military awards, and also a section on civilian & party awards. Particularly interesting, and revealing of Nazi propaganda, are the Mutterkreuz, awarded to Aryan mothers who propagated the master race by bearing large numbers of children, and the medals for the Ostvolk, (incredibly) awarded to Russians who helped the Germans.
Many of the German aces featured elsewhere on this site earned the Knight's Cross, and its higher grades: the Oak Leaves, the Swords, and the Diamonds. The full, accurate name of "the Diamonds," is "Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds," or in German, "Das Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern, und Brillanten." Wow.
You can read about them all, in the pages linked below.
Civilian, Service, and Nazi Party
7 War Merit Crosses shown
8 pins and broaches for German women shown
15 stickpins for sports, party membership, etc. shown
6 medals for service shown
Other Military Medals and Badges
over 16 badges of the Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, etc. shown
5 medals for Crimean, West Wall, Czech campaigns shown
medals for Eastern Peoples, Spanish Blue Division, etc.