June 6, 2014

Diamond Knights

The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was reintroduced by Hitler on 1 September 1939. The Iron Cross, as a military decoration, was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia in 1813 and was awarded to soldiers who fought against Napoleon. In Hitler’s Reich the Iron Cross had eight grades: second class; first class; Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross; Knight’s Cross with oak leaves; with oak leaves and swords; with oak leaves, swords and diamonds; with golden oak leaves, swords and diamonds (awarded only once to Hans-Ulrich Rudel) and the Grand Cross (awarded to Göring). The Knight’s Cross with oak leaves, swords and diamonds was bestowed on twenty seven individuals. Of them 

eleven belonged to the Luftwaffetwo to the Kriegsmarinetwelve to the Army (Heer) and two to the Waffen-SS.

As this site is focused on armored warfare we will try to spot the tank officers. The Army recipients were: 
  • Rommel (11 March 1943); 
  • Schulz (9 Jan 1944); 
  • Strachwitz (15 Apr 1944); 
  • Hube (20 Apr 44); 
  • Model (17 Aug 1944); 
  • Balck (31 Aug 1944); 
  • Ramcke (19 Sep 1944); 
  • Schörner (1 Jan 1945); 
  • Manteuffel (18 Feb 1945); 
  • Tolsdorf (18 Mar 1945); 
  • Mauss (15 Apr 1945) and 
  • Saucken (8 May 1945).
Erwin Rommel was an infantry officer originally, but he had commanded a Panzerdivision, a Panzerkorps and a Panzerarmee. 

Adelbert Schulz was a panzer officer who was awarded the Diamonds for his actions as commander of the 25th Panzer-Regiment. 

Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz is also a well-known panzer officer. 

Hans-Valentin Hube was an infantryman, but he became a Panzerdivision commander. Later on he commanded a Panzerkorps and a Panzerarmee. 

Walter Model was also a Panzertruppe General who had commanded a Panzerdivision and a Panzerkorps. 

Hermann Balck is another well-known panzer commander. 

Herman Gerhard Ramcke was a paratrooper. 

Ferdinard Scörner was a mountain infantry officer. 

Hasso von Manteuffel was an accomplished panzer commander. 

Theodor Tolsdorf was an infantry officer. 

Dr. Karl Mauss was a panzer officer and a dentist. 

Finally Dietrich von Saucken was a Cavalry officer. At the end of September 1939 he became commander of the 4th Panzer-Division’s Rifle Brigade and later on he commanded the 4th Panzer.

The Waffen-SS recipients were Gille (19 Apr 1944) and Dietrich (6 Aug 1944). 

Herbert Otto Gille was an artilleryman who later commanded the 5th SS-Panzer-Division “Wiking”. 

Sepp Dietrich had not received formal military training as an officer. Due to his connection with Hitler he commanded an SS-Panzerdivision, an SS-Panzerkorps and an SS-Panzerarmee.

Diamond Knights

Fraschka, Günther. Knights of the Reich. Atglen, PA: Schiffer, 1994.
McDonnel, Leslie. Insignia of World War II. Enderby: Silverdale, 1999.

Photo attribution
Bruce Marvin at de.wikipedia, GFDL, CC-BY-3.0, from Wikimedia Commons