25- German Iron Cross

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German Iron Cross

The Iron Cross (without the swastika) originally was the symbol of the Teutonic Knights (a heraldic cross pattée), and the cross design has been the symbol of Germany's armed forces (now the Bundeswehr) since the Napoleonic Wars. When Adolph Hitler renewed use of the Iron Cross in 1939 and superimposed the Nazi swastika in its center, Iron Cross instantly became one of the most visually powerful and easily recognized military awards of all time.

The standard 1939 Iron Cross was issued in the following two grades: Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eiserne Kreuz 2 Klasse) and Iron Cross 1st Class (Eiserne Kreuz 1 Klasse). The Iron Cross was awarded for bravery in battle as well as other military contributions in a battlefield environment. The Iron Cross 2nd Class came with a ribbon. 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.

Sources: Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org)