Most Decorated vs Highest Decorated Soldier ??

Individual German officers, soldiers and award holders.

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Most Decorated vs Highest Decorated Soldier ??

Postby rjb44 » Mon Apr 07, 2003 8:45 pm

There seems to be a major misconception which is widely published in various publication, forums, papers, ect... This has to do with the difference in identifying Germany's most decorated soldier and Germany's highest decorated soldier. There seems to be allot written about Han Rudel being Germany’s most decorated soldier. He is always identified as Germany's highest decorated soldier, due in fact of the Knight Cross w/gold and diamonds. Although he was the only recipient, I don't believe it was the highest award. Hermann Goering was in receipt of the Grand Cross, which was a higher variation of the Iron Cross, higher then the Knights Cross. I could be wrong on this. I haven't read much about the Grand Cross. Hermann Goering was a soldier, as was Rudel.

I would be interested in knowing who Germany's most decorated soldier was (Heer/Luftwaffe/SS). What I mean is, who had received the most awards during the war. I have seen pictures of lower ranking officers, such as Lt's, Capt's and Majors with a vast array of medals (Knight cross, Iron Cross, Tank badge, Wound badge, German Cross, Infantry assault, Close Combat, ect...) Who was the soldier who was the recipient of the most awards, not necessarily the highest. Also, who was Germany's most decorated General officer? Could it have been a lesser known General, who perhaps ultimately was promoted toward the war's end who had numerous awards but only reached the rank of General Major?

Many of the well known Generals had high awards, such as Rommel, but how many did they have. I have see n pictures of some unknown Generals who had awards from the KC w/swords to Close combat, German gross, and an extensive ribbon bars. Just curious to know who the most decorated soldiers are, not he highest decorated.

Also, another interesting question... Who is Germany's all-time most decorated soldier to this day, Including WW1 and post WW2?

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Postby Vincent » Thu Apr 10, 2003 2:27 am

Let me tell you what I think: the most important thing for a soldier (concerning the awards) is not to receive a lot of them, it's to receive the highest award... So, it's interesting to know someone's every award but his graetest award should be representative of him...
I know i'm not clear, so I hope you understand what I mean...

For the highest award, you are right: it is the Grand Cross (considering only the Iron Cross class). But I'm sure the "Pour le Mérite" Cross is far more prestigious. None were given in WW2, but some generals had since WW1 (Rommel, Bock...).
Concerning the Iron Cross class, it was originally only three awards: 2nd class, 1st class and Grand Crosses. Hitler created the Ritterkreuz at the beginning of WW2 and invented then all of the others (Eichenlaub...). The German Cross in gold was also created (1941) to fill a gap between 1st class and Ritterkreuz.
Theorically, Göring is the highest ranked concerning the award, you are right.

I don't think that can help you a lot but I'm training my english in that way...

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Postby Enrico Mölders » Thu Apr 10, 2003 1:11 pm


I don't think we realy could count Görings 'Grosskreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes'. Only he exclusivly wear it like he had the title Reichsmarschall which he received exclusivly from Hitler and no other could reach this title also.

About Rudel's golden oakleave it's something diffrent in may oppinien. He already had the brilliants to the Knightcross and showed further exeptional bravery and success and so it was a logical step to create another class of decoration.

I agree with Vincent that it was the goal for every German soldier ( besides staying alive and unwounded ) to reach the highest decoration ( Knightscross ) and further all of the classes of this decoration.

But I also understand the starting question. For example Hans Dorr (5. SS 'Wiking' ) never reached the diamonds of the Knightscross but he wear for example besides EK I&II KC with OL and Swords, GC in Gold ... the golden Woundbadge ( Verwundetenabzeichen ) for being wounded 16 times, something which could tell us something about his bravery in frontlineservice.

Bye Enrico
' ... zu bedauern die Nation die Helden benötigt ! ' Berthold Brecht

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Postby Vincent » Fri Apr 11, 2003 12:58 am

Why shouldn't we count Göring's?
Görind is better political as soldier, i'm all right. But he is the commander in chife of the Luftwaffe, as Brauchitsch or Raeder are commanders in chief...
Objectively, we have to count his Grand Cross.
But that makes me sick, too...

Maybe I wasn't clear about something: I don't think a good soldier (majority of the early Wehrmacht) had the objective to earn great awards. Soldiers were above that material stuff... Whta I meant, it's that a soldier should prefer earning ONE great decoration and not a lot of little ones...

I'm sorry, I don't konw Hans Dorr enough to speak about him but he is not the only one to be a great soldier/commander not being decorated enough.

Have a nice day!

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Postby Marko » Fri Apr 11, 2003 2:40 am

I also don't think that every soldier had a goal of receiving the KC, it was more like a dream for most of them. This also doesn't mean they didn't want to receive other awards, just an example the Close Combat Badge was awarded to only 600 soldiers (so much less then KCs and even less then Oak Leaves) and was considered as the highest infantry award. There were also some other awards that were highly regarded especially those in Gold (German Cross, Anti-Partisan Badge, Tank destruction Badge, Wound Badge, Panzer Badge).

Now to your question rjb44:
Just some of my picks:
- SS-Oberscharführer Adolf »Adi« Peichl:
Knight's Cross,
German Cross in Gold,
Close Combat Clasp in Gold,
Wound Badge in Gold,
1x Tank destruction Badge in Gold,
6x Tank Destruction Badge in Silver,
Infantry Assault Badge in Bronze,
- SS-Obersturmbannführer Günther Eberhardt Wisliceny:
Knight's Cross with Swords and Oak Leaves,
German Cross in Gold,
Close Combat Clasp in Gold,
Wound Badge in Gold,
Infantry Assault Badge in Bronze,
- SS-Obersturmbannführer Hans Dorr:
Knight's Cross with Swords and Oak Leaves,
German Cross in Gold,
Close Combat Clasp in Silver,
Wound Badge in Gold,
Infantry Assault Badge in Silver,
2x Tank destruction Badge in Silver,
And I don't think he complained for not getting enough awards (only 5 unit commanders received the Diamonds and only one of them was a regimental commander).


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Postby Stauffenberg » Fri Apr 11, 2003 3:36 am

Deutschland (1939-1945)
Grosskreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, mit Goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten - only for 12 proved lone fighters (29.12.1944)
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten (28.09.1941)
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern (28.09.1941)
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, mit Eichenlaub (03.06.1940)
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (de facto) (28.09.1941)
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse & Spange des Eisernen Kreuzes 1. Klasse
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse & Spange des Eisernen Kreuzes 2. Klasse

Deutschland (1914-1918)
Grosskreuz des Pour le merite
Pour le merite mit Eichenlaub
Pour le merite
Ritterkreuz des Hausordens von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern (de facto)
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse

In my opinion severals mistakes were made in 1939 at the set up of the law:
1. One forgot the class between the Ritterkreuz and the Grosskreuz (Eichenlaub).
2. One forgot the class between the EK 1. Klasse and the Ritterkreuz.

These gaps would have come forward in every mid-term war and did come forward.

But: The Grosskreuz is indeed the highest award. The Grosskreuz des Pour le merite was only awarded for four times if my mind serves me. But there was a "downgrade" for the award indeed because only Göring received it.

Article 3 of the law said: "Die Verleihung des Grosskreuzes behalte ich mir vor für überragende Taten, die den Verlauf der Kampfhandlungen entscheidend beeinflussen."

According to this article the award could have awarded to Guderian (and Lutz) (for setting up the Armored Troops), Manstein (for the operations plan West) and several other RK-officers but wasn´t.

And: After adding the DKiG (28.09.1941), without requiring this award for the receipt of the Ritterkreuz, there are two levels of Ritterkreuzträger, those who haven´t received the DKiG additionaly and those who have (i. e. Mauss and Gille, both received the DKiG and the Brillanten. The other Brillanten-Träger did not if my mind serves me).

In my opinion the award-methodology wasn´t very consistent and often depended on personal/political reasons:

1. Two of the most decisive actions in the Norway campaign weren´t credited. Gen. Maj. Bernhard von Lossberg didn´t send the OKW-message to Narvik telling them to retreat to Sweden. Gen. Obst. Alfred Jodl instead told them to stand there for their ultimate fight. If Narvik would have been lost ... wow.
2. Gen. Obst. Erhard Raus didn´t become his swords, because the OKW didn´t agree, although the OKH did agree on February 22nd, 1945. The award was "zurückgestellt".


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