German Iron Cross: A Brief History And Its Significance

The German Iron Cross is a medal that any veteran of the World War would have been proud to bring back home as a trophy. You can also get your very own German Iron Cross with veteran certification to have in your own collection. However, you should definitely learn more about this magnificent medal before having it in your home. That way, you can fully appreciate its worth and tell guests who ask about the Iron Cross facts about it and its significance. To help you learn more about this great medal, here is a brief history on it.

Qualifying for the Medal

This was one of the most iconic medals that you could receive in Germany during World War 1 and 2. A soldier would receive this medal if they have gone above and beyond their call of duty and have shown true forms of bravery when face to face with their enemy. If the soldier was able to distinguish themselves then they would receive this medal.

There are actually three classes of medals for the German Iron Cross. There is a second class, first class, and Grand Cross. Grand Cross was such an honor to receive that it was only given as an award 19 times. There is also a special class which is the Grand Cross with a radiant star, which was only ever given as an award twice.

Even though it mostly served as a military decoration at the time, it could actually be given to civilians. Civilians could receive this award if they had performed actions that military personnel would normally provide. For instance, two civilians were given this award before because they served as civilian test pilots back in World War 2.

How It Was Worn

Typically, there were three ways a soldier should wear their Iron Cross medal. The first way is that they would wear it on the second button of their tunic. If the occasion is more formal, then the cross would be worn on its own or worn with a bar amongst other medals. If it was for everyday purposes or more casual days, the ribbon would only be worn on the second hole of the tunic button.


Originally, the symbol of the Iron Cross was a kind of military decoration that came from the Kingdom of Prussia. After some time, the German Empire adopted the symbol. During World War 1, Emperor Wilhelm the Second had reauthorized the use of the Iron Cross. During World War 2, on the other hand, it was Adolf Hitler who returned the Iron Cross to continue giving it out as a medal. Once World War 2 was over and Germany was against items that had the Nazi insignia on it, the Iron Crosses were then replaced with an Oak Leaf Cluster so the ones who received an Iron Cross could wear those instead.

The German Iron Cross is truly a piece of history that it worth learning more about, especially if you are a proud owner of one.

The Gettysburg Museum of History gives you the opportunity to own a valuable war collectible, the German Iron Cross. Check out our website for more info.

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