Iron Cross

Standard, most basic form of the Iron Cross
Prussia, the Iron Cross 1st Class of the Napoleonic Wars, in its original form of 1 June 1813, obverse side
Reverse side of the above cross showing eight metal loops for stitching the award to the left side of the uniform breast
Various iterations from 1813 to 1870

The Iron Cross (German: About this soundEisernes Kreuz , abbreviated EK) is a former military decoration in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later in the German Empire (1871–1918) and Nazi Germany (1933–1945). It was established by King Frederick William III of Prussia in March 1813 backdated to the birthday of his late wife Queen Louise on 10 March 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars (EK 1813). Louise was the first person to receive this decoration (posthumously).[1] The recommissioned Iron Cross was also awarded during the Franco-Prussian War (EK 1870), World War I (EK 1914), and World War II (EK 1939, re-introduced with a swastika added in the center).The Iron Cross was normally a military decoration only, though there were instances of it being awarded to civilians for performing military functions. Two examples of this were civilian test pilots Hanna Reitsch who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and 1st Class and Melitta Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, who was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class, for their actions as pilots during World War II.

The design of the cross symbol was black with a white or silver outline, was ultimately derived from the cross pattée of the Teutonic Order, used by knights on occasions from the 13th century.[2]

The Prussian Army black cross pattée was also used as the symbol of the succeeding German Army from 1871 to March/April 1918, when it was replaced by the Balkenkreuz. In 1956, it was re-introduced as the symbol of the Bundeswehr, the modern German armed forces.

Black Cross emblem

Emblem of the Bundeswehr (since 1956)
The Balkenkreuz introduced in 1916

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.

Other Languages
العربية: صليب حديدي
azərbaycanca: Dəmir xaç ordeni
বাংলা: লৌহ ক্রুশ
беларуская: Жалезны крыж
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Жалезны крыж
български: Железен кръст
català: Creu de Ferro
dansk: Jernkorset
eesti: Raudrist
español: Cruz de Hierro
Esperanto: Fera Kruco
français: Croix de fer
한국어: 철십자
hrvatski: Željezni križ
Bahasa Indonesia: Iron Cross
italiano: Croce di Ferro
עברית: צלב הברזל
latviešu: Dzelzs krusts
magyar: Vaskereszt
Bahasa Melayu: Salib Besi
日本語: 鉄十字
norsk: Jernkorset
norsk nynorsk: Jernkrossen
português: Cruz de Ferro
română: Crucea de Fier
Simple English: Iron Cross
slovenčina: Železný kríž
slovenščina: Železni križec
српски / srpski: Гвоздени крст
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Željezni križ
suomi: Rautaristi
svenska: Järnkorset
Türkçe: Demir Haç
Tiếng Việt: Thập tự Sắt