German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

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pintere
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German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 26 Feb 2024 05:16

In discussions of German medals in WWII it often seems to be assumed that the German Cross in Gold was considered to be a higher award than the Honour Roll Clasp. However, I recently found a document in the Bundesarchiv which seems to not only disprove this point, but also reverse it completely. The document (from RW 59/364, and dated to the 13.04.1942) makes a number of comments about the two awards.

RW_59_364_0271 (2) (1).jpg

Of particular relevance is comment #7, which reads:

"If one were to compare them, being named in the Honour Roll is generally considered to be a higher award than the German Cross."

So, in the absence of any compelling evidence to the contrary, this would seem to represent another WWII myth as busted.
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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Cult Icon » 26 Feb 2024 07:55

The German Cross in Gold was large and worn prominently and the award documents indicate that it was given for numerous acts in combat, more like an award for having done a lot. There were also many times more of them awarded than the Honour Roll. It was not considered a grade of the Iron Cross.

A soldier could be awarded the RK before or after he won the German cross. They weren't in the same genre.

The Honour Roll is an odd one, it seems to have been awarded for a single act but something that was not high enough for the Knight's Cross so this one was given instead.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 27 Feb 2024 03:17

Cult Icon wrote:
26 Feb 2024 07:55
The German Cross in Gold was large and worn prominently and the award documents indicate that it was given for numerous acts in combat, more like an award for having done a lot. There were also many times more of them awarded than the Honour Roll. It was not considered a grade of the Iron Cross.

A soldier could be awarded the RK before or after he won the German cross. They weren't in the same genre.

The Honour Roll is an odd one, it seems to have been awarded for a single act but something that was not high enough for the Knight's Cross so this one was given instead.
Yeah, it’s probably best thought of as an in-between the Iron Cross First Class and the Knight’s Cross. But it’s all too often been assumed that the German Cross in Gold was a more prestigious award than the Honour Roll Clasp, and what this document does is show that this was not necessarily the case. Just as well, as the two had very different sets of criteria anyways.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Cult Icon » 27 Feb 2024 04:42

pintere wrote:
27 Feb 2024 03:17
Yeah, it’s probably best thought of as an in-between the Iron Cross First Class and the Knight’s Cross. But it’s all too often been assumed that the German Cross in Gold was a more prestigious award than the Honour Roll Clasp, and what this document does is show that this was not necessarily the case. Just as well, as the two had very different sets of criteria anyways.
It is rather strange that the honor roll clasp is so small given the rank of the award. Also 4,000+ were awarded compared to 7,000+ for the RK.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 27 Feb 2024 14:36

Cult Icon wrote:
27 Feb 2024 04:42
pintere wrote:
27 Feb 2024 03:17
Yeah, it’s probably best thought of as an in-between the Iron Cross First Class and the Knight’s Cross. But it’s all too often been assumed that the German Cross in Gold was a more prestigious award than the Honour Roll Clasp, and what this document does is show that this was not necessarily the case. Just as well, as the two had very different sets of criteria anyways.
It is rather strange that the honor roll clasp is so small given the rank of the award. Also 4,000+ were awarded compared to 7,000+ for the RK.
The Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine had their own versions of the Honour Roll Clasp, but records on their awarding are incomplete and the total numbers of recipients are unknown.

However, the Honour Roll Clasp of the Heer was awarded at about the same rate as the Knight’s Cross to Heer and Waffen SS soldiers. Between these two branches, the Honour Roll Clasp had around ~4500 recipients, while the Knight’s Cross had around ~5000 recipients. It must also be taken into account that the Honour Roll Clasp was only introduced after the start of Barbarossa, so the rate of issuing was more or less the same as the Knight’s Cross after it was well and truly established.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Mark in Cleveland, Tn. » 28 Feb 2024 04:15

An excellent example of that this forum is all about.. To thew point question with detailed answers KUDOS!!!!!!

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 29 Feb 2024 04:03

Mark in Cleveland, Tn. wrote:
28 Feb 2024 04:15
An excellent example of that this forum is all about.. To thew point question with detailed answers KUDOS!!!!!!
Thanks :wink:

I like to think that more of these kind of threads will pop up in the future as more and more archival material becomes digitized.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Mark in Cleveland, Tn. » 29 Feb 2024 04:49

pintere wrote:
29 Feb 2024 04:03
Mark in Cleveland, Tn. wrote:
28 Feb 2024 04:15
An excellent example of that this forum is all about.. To thew point question with detailed answers KUDOS!!!!!!
Thanks :wink:

I like to think that more of these kind of threads will pop up in the future as more and more archival material becomes digitized.
agreed. I am spending more research time on the vast www sites that are having such items starting to come nline.Do not do much on this forum anymore, I gues sage and part of the old guard being amember for like since the beginning( my current account ) is my second one,as the first one was lost in deep internet space way back over 5500 + posts ago

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Cult Icon » 29 Feb 2024 06:51

pintere wrote:
27 Feb 2024 14:36

The Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine had their own versions of the Honour Roll Clasp, but records on their awarding are incomplete and the total numbers of recipients are unknown.

However, the Honour Roll Clasp of the Heer was awarded at about the same rate as the Knight’s Cross to Heer and Waffen SS soldiers. Between these two branches, the Honour Roll Clasp had around ~4500 recipients, while the Knight’s Cross had around ~5000 recipients. It must also be taken into account that the Honour Roll Clasp was only introduced after the start of Barbarossa, so the rate of issuing was more or less the same as the Knight’s Cross after it was well and truly established.
I saw that the total number was 7,364. Also at times RK was also awarded for numerous acts, making it sometimes indistinguishable from the German Cross in Gold.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781557829/?c ... _lig_dp_it

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 29 Feb 2024 15:00

Cult Icon wrote:
29 Feb 2024 06:51
pintere wrote:
27 Feb 2024 14:36

The Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine had their own versions of the Honour Roll Clasp, but records on their awarding are incomplete and the total numbers of recipients are unknown.

However, the Honour Roll Clasp of the Heer was awarded at about the same rate as the Knight’s Cross to Heer and Waffen SS soldiers. Between these two branches, the Honour Roll Clasp had around ~4500 recipients, while the Knight’s Cross had around ~5000 recipients. It must also be taken into account that the Honour Roll Clasp was only introduced after the start of Barbarossa, so the rate of issuing was more or less the same as the Knight’s Cross after it was well and truly established.
I saw that the total number was 7,364. Also at times RK was also awarded for numerous acts, making it sometimes indistinguishable from the German Cross in Gold.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781557829/?c ... _lig_dp_it
I was talking about numbers for the Heer and Waffen SS specifically :wink:

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Peter » 03 Mar 2024 15:13

Some veterans I spoke with in the 1970's and 1980's maintained that the DK/Gold was awarded too easily sometimes "for command achievements" and also for expediency and dubious political reasons (senior pressure, etc). They referred to it as "the Party Badge for the short sighted". Bartl Breitfuss who was a recipient maintained that the award was devalued given some of those it was awarded to. Several veterans commented that the award was usually hard earned and well deserved in men junior to the rank Major.

The Honour Roll Clasp when mentioned was regarded with great respect and recipients were spoken of with similar levels of respect to the RKT, it seems to have been considered an award for a frontline fighter, I believe many were posthumous.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 09 Mar 2024 15:43

Peter wrote:
03 Mar 2024 15:13
Some veterans I spoke with in the 1970's and 1980's maintained that the DK/Gold was awarded too easily sometimes "for command achievements" and also for expediency and dubious political reasons (senior pressure, etc). They referred to it as "the Party Badge for the short sighted". Bartl Breitfuss who was a recipient maintained that the award was devalued given some of those it was awarded to. Several veterans commented that the award was usually hard earned and well deserved in men junior to the rank Major.

The Honour Roll Clasp when mentioned was regarded with great respect and recipients were spoken of with similar levels of respect to the RKT, it seems to have been considered an award for a frontline fighter, I believe many were posthumous.
Thanks for sharing! It’s pretty tricky to find comments from veterans regarding their thoughts on Honour Roll Clasp, so this is great to know.

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Mar 2024 19:44

There seems to be an initiative to generate a large number of GCIG and RK in various formations, particularly SS-Panzer and FJD and to a lessor extent Pz, PzG, and some infantry divisions.

Eg. Look at 1st SS and 2nd SS divisions. Some of the key leaders in the 1st SS division were given successive grades of the RK despite failing in major offensive operations in 44'-45'!

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Re: German Cross in Gold and the Honour Roll Clasp: Which was higher in precedence?

Post by pintere » 12 Mar 2024 00:58

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Mar 2024 19:44
There seems to be an initiative to generate a large number of GCIG and RK in various formations, particularly SS-Panzer and FJD and to a lessor extent Pz, PzG, and some infantry divisions.

Eg. Look at 1st SS and 2nd SS divisions. Some of the key leaders in the 1st SS division were given successive grades of the RK despite failing in major offensive operations in 44'-45'!
Although I'm sure this sort of thing happened sometimes, in most cases the Knight's Cross and its higher grades were awarded on a fair basis even late into the war. That is to say, one still needed to achieve results in order to receive it. Take the 1st SS in the battle of the bulge for example. Peiper got his Swords there because, even though it didn't achieve its objectives in the end, it did get the farthest of all the Division's Kampfgruppen and inflicted the most damage on the Americans. The Division commander (Mohnke) and the commanders of the other 3 Kampfgruppen of the Division (Hansen, Mohnke and Sandig) were not awarded the higher grades of Knight's Cross, rightfully so.

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