Introduced in 1939 and 1940, respectively, the Knight's Cross and the Oak Leaves were part of the same continuity of awards as the Iron Cross. As a result of the German system of escalating awards and the intense and drawn-out nature of World War II, higher tiers of the Cross needed to be introduced to properly recognize the fighting men in Germany. Barring very rare exceptions, a man receiving the Oak Leaves would first have to earn the 2nd Class Iron Cross, 1st Class Iron Cross and the Knight's Cross requiring a significant duration of service and multiple acts of gallantry. Approximately 890 members of the Wehrmacht are known to have reached this level of achievement. In addition before the attempt on his life in July of 1944, Hitler was in the habit of personally awarding the Oak Leaves in ceremonies performed at his various field headquarters. Later in the war, yet higher decorations would be attached to the Knight's Cross (swords and diamonds) and finally the introduction of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (for all intents and purposes unissued; only Goering received one and it was later stripped from him), but for a time the Oak Leaves were the top valor award in the Third Reich. Measuring 1 7/8 inches across and 2 1/8 inches tall including the hanger, the front bears a swastika over "1939", with "1813" on the rear black painted interior and uncovered silver border with "800" stamped on the rear just below the hanging ring and a silver hanger. The red, white, and black ribbon is 7 3/4 inches long with a pair of 9 1/2 inch long matching colored ties, supporting the Oak Leaf, which is marked the silver oak leaf ornament in the center with "21" and "900" stamped on the rear. Information supplied by the consignor lists the Cross as being Steinhauer & Lueck "Type A" production about 1941-1942, with the oak leaves being Godet about 1943-1945; this difference in dating is appropriate for a Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves earned the traditional way. No information on the original recipient is available at this time. The consignor was told that the Knight's Cross was bought at a hotel buy and was confiscated from an officer being taken in April of 1945. The ribbon was added afterwards for display purposes.
Exceptionally fine, totally original showing an attractive aged, untouched dark patina on the edges of the cross and some light wear on the swastika. The oak leaves exhibit even wear as with the ribbon showing some light stains. Overall a very fine "no apology" Knight's Cross.
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