Black Cross emblem
The Black Cross (Schwarzes Kreuz) is the emblem used by the Prussian Army, and by the army of Germany from 1871 to present. It was designed on the occasion of the German Campaign of 1813, when Frederick William III commissioned the Iron Cross as the first military decoration open to all ranks, including enlisted men. From this time, the Black Cross also featured on the Prussian war flag alongside the Black Eagle.
It was designed by neoclassical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, based on a sketch by Frederick William.
The design is ultimately derivative of the black cross used by the Teutonic Order. This heraldic cross took various forms throughout the order's history, including a simple Latin cross, a cross potent, cross fleury and occasionally also a cross pattée.
When the Quadriga of the Goddess of Peace was retrieved from Paris at Napoleon's fall, it was re-established atop Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. An Iron Cross was inserted into Peace's laurel wreath, making her into a Goddess of Victory. In 1821 Schinkel crowned the top of his design of the National Monument for the Liberation Wars with an Iron Cross, becoming name-giving as Kreuzberg (cross mountain) for the hill it stands on and – 100 years later – for the homonymous quarter adjacent to it.
The Black Cross was used on the naval and combat flags of the German Empire.
The Black Cross was used as the symbol of the German Army until 1915, when it was replaced by a simpler Balkenkreuz.
The Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic (1921–35), the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany (1935–46) and the Bundeswehr (1 October 1956 to present) also inherited use of the emblem in various forms. The traditional design in black is used on armored vehicles and aircraft, while after German reunification, a new design in blue and silver was introduced for use in other contexts.