by Sebastián J. Bianchi

The Iron Cross Second Class held a certain level of prestige in the waning days of 1939; in war's past, even this lowest grade had been stringently presented.   However, as the conflict entered advanced years, and certainly as the German infrastructure crumbled in 1945, this grade was given out with liberalism and therefore its reputation eroded accordingly.  In spite of this, the Iron Cross 2nd Class was a valued decoration and many recipients have proudly documented the deeds which earned them the right to wear it.

Award Criteria

The official criteria for the award was a single act of bravery in the face of the enemy, or actions that were clearly above and beyond the call of duty.

Heer and SS personnel would receive the Cross for a successful action in which the soldier distinguished himself.  For example, Platoon commander SS Obersturmfuhrer Eric Brorup of the 5th SS Panzer Division was decorated on December 1, 1942 for leading a reconnaissance forest raid in the Eastern front during which a fire fight ensued. His platoon inflicted enemy casualties and brought back six prisoners, two of them NCOs.   It was not uncommon for an entire unit to receive the Iron Cross 2nd Class.  The entire crew of U-29 was decorated on September 18th in recognition of their sinking of the 22,500 aircraft carrier HMS Courageous on the previous day. 


The class of the award was worn in three different methods

  1. From the second button of the tunic.  
  2. When in formal dress, the entire cross was worn mounted alone or as part of a medal bar.
  3. For everyday wear, only the ribbon was worn from the second hole in the tunic button.

1) SS Oberschutze
Johannes Cuypers
wears the cross in a traditional method.

2) Siegfried Knappe wears the medal on a bar.

3) Hubert Berg wears just the ribbon on his Soldbuch photo. 

Sebastián Bianchi collection

For more information, see the recipient section of this article.



The 2nd Class of the Iron Cross measured 44mm in diameter and was held by a black, white and red ribbon representing the colors of the new Reich.  For complete manufacturing information please see the Manufacturing Section of this article.  Once the basic cross was manufactured, a ring was soldered to the upper arm, and this in turn chain linked with the loop through which the ribbon passed (on a standard Iron Cross 30mm was presented with the award).  The central stripe of the cloth measured 14mm with the black and white stripes measuring 4mm each.   

Manufacturer mark, if present, was on the ribbon loop.  Many Iron Crosses were unmarked and the absence of a stamp mark is common.  

Click on images to enlarge

Standard Iron Cross

Sebastián Bianchi collection


Manufacturer Gallery

The following firms manufactured the Iron Cross 2nd Class during the Third Reich period.  Click on each manufacturer to see an example of the cross.  These crosses are featured because they are marked, but the lack of a mark is also completely normal.  In many cases, the manufacturer of a cross without a mark may be deduced by comparing it to a marked example.   Be aware that there are variations within manufacturers and the ones presented here are representative of the maker, but by no means the last word on them.

Click on each manufacturer to see examples




1 Deschler & Sohn München
2 C.E. Juncker Berlin
3 Wilhelm Deumer Lüdenscheld
4 Steinhauer & Lück Lüdenscheld
5 Hermann Wernstein Jena-Lobstedt
6 Fritz Zimmermann Stuttgart
7 Paul Meybauer Berlin
8 Ferdinand Hoffstädter  Bonn
11 Grossmann & Co. Wien
12 Frank & Reif Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen
13 Gustav Brehmer  Markneukirchen/Sa
16 Alois Rettenmaler Schwäblsch-Gmund
15 Friedrich Orth Wien
19 E. Ferd Weidmann Frankfurt/Main
20 C.F. Zimmermann Pforzheim
21 Gebr. Godet & Co. Berlin
22 Boerger & Co. Berlin
23 Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Heereshedarf in der Graveur-ubd Ziselierung Berlin
24 Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Hanauer Plakettenhersteller Hanau
25 Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Graveur-Gold-und Silverschmeide-Innungen Hanau 
26 B. H. Mayers Kunstprägesanstalt Pforzheim
27 Anton Schenkls Nachfolger Wien
33 Friedrich Linden Lüdensched
35 F.W. Assmann und Söhne Lüdensched
40 Berg & Nolte Lüdensched
41 Gebrüder Bender Oberstein/Nahe
42 Biedermann & Co. Oberkassel bei Bonn
44 Jakob Bengel Idar/Oberdonau
49 Josef Feix Söhne Gablonz a.d.Neckar
52 Gottlieb & Wagner Idar Oberstein
55 J.E. Hammer & Söhne Geringswalde
56 Robert Hauschild Pforzheim
65 Klein & Quenzer A.G. Idar Oberstein
66 Freidrich Keller Oberstein
70 Lind & Meyrer
75 (Unknown)
76 Ernst L. Müller Pforzheim
80 G.H. Osang Dresden
93 Richard Simm & Söhne Gablonz a.d.Neckar
94 Adolf Scholze Grünwald a.d.Neckar
96 (Unknown)
97 (Unknown)
98 Rudolf Souval Wien
100 Rudolf Wächtler & Lange Mittweida
103 Aug. G. Tam Gablonz a.d. Neckar
104 Hein. Ulbricht's Ww. Kaufing bei Schwanenstadt
106 Brüder Schneider A.G. Wien
108 Arno Wallpach Salzburg
109 Walter & Hentein Gablonz
113 Hermann Aurich Dresden
120 Franz Petzl Wien
122 JJ. Stahl Strassburg
123 Beck, Hassinger & Co. Strassburg
125 Eugen Gauss Pforzheim
128 S. Jablonski Gmb H Posen
132 Franz Reischauer Oberstein
137 J.H. Werner Berlin
138 Julius Maurer Oberstein
139 Hymmen & Co. Ludenscheid


L/11 Wilhelm Deumer Lüdensched, Postfach 161
L/12 C. E. Juncker Berlin SW 68, Alte Jakobstr. 13
L/14 Friedrich Orth Wien


Mounting Styles

When the cross was worn in full dress, several options were used to hold it.  Below are three examples of such options, the Austrian three folded ribbon, the traditional "court mounted" (single mounted medal bar) and as part of a small medal group.   

Click on images to enlarge

Austrian mounting style.

G. Stimson Collection

Court Mounted, or single ribbon bar of the Iron Cross 2nd Class.  

G. Stimson Collection

An Iron Cross on a medal bar.  

Sebastián Bianchi collection



Round 3

This variation of the Iron Cross is fittingly called "round 3" since the "3" in the dates differs from the norm in that it is round on top (instead of flat). 


Above is a clear example of a "round 3" (on the left), clearly different than the standard "3" on the right.


Click on images to enlarge 

Round 3 variant.  

Sebastián Bianchi collection

Round 3 variant.  

Sebastián Bianchi collection

Round 3 Iron Cross.

Mike Toivonen Collection

This round 3 has a core that is rugged in appearance.  This is a common occurrence within this type of cross.


George Stimson Collection  


Interestingly, this reproduction of a 1939 Assmann sales catalog shows the 1939 Iron Cross with the "round 3" variant. 

Catalog S. Bianchi Collection


Tim Calvert Collection



The so called "Oversize" or Übergrosse Iron Crosses are larger in size than the standard 44mm by 44mm, their size being 47.5mm by 47.5mm.  The original reason for these crosses being larger than standard has been lost to time, but whatever it was they were eventually issued as "regular" 2nd classes, despite their size.  

Click on images to enlarge

The Übergrosse Iron Cross 2nd Class

George Stimson Collection

Three sizes of the Iron Cross side by side; The Schinckelform (covered below) on the far left, a standard size, and an Übergrosse cross.

George Stimson Collection



This variant of the 2nd and 1st Class derives its name from the creator of the award because of its similarities to the original Iron Cross design.  So called "Schinckelform" Iron Crosses are early manufactured pieces that were made from 1914 dies, and therefore have narrower arms and smaller, more delicate features.  

Click on images to enlarge

Schinckelform Iron Cross

Sebastián Bianchi collection

Schinckelform Iron Cross

George Stimson Collection

Court mounted Schinckelform Iron Cross

George Stimson Collection



Two of the different date styles found on the Schinckelform. 


2nd Class-to-Knights Cross Conversion

There are many documented examples of a Knight's Cross recipient converting his Iron Cross 2nd Class for wear around his neck.  A range of methods were used to accomplish the task, from professional conversions where a hook was soldered by a jeweler to more improvised, "field"  methods.  This promotion of the second class could be done on a temporary basis while a Knights Cross was not available or (and this is speculation) in order to protect the most prestigious award.  From a collectors standpoint, if a converted Iron Cross is able to establish provenance then the price increases, if not, they are a tough sell. 

Click on images to enlarge

Luftwaffe pilot Walter  Stumpf, who was awarded the Knights Cross late in the war, never received the actual award and instead wore a converted Iron Cross 2nd Class.

Andy Hopkins Collection

An example of a converted Iron Cross 2nd Class.

Pascal Collection


Field Made Iron Cross

Field Made Iron Crosses were made in the field, as the name obviously implies, where conditions prevented the delivery of an officially manufactured award.  This was often the case in ships at seas and below we have a great example of a field made award from the ship Orion, and an exclusive photograph validating its manufacture.  As with the converted Iron Cross, provenance is everything when dealing with a piece that purports to be field made.  Alone they are nothing more than a novelty at best, but accompanied by appropriate documentation they are an exciting variation.  Unfortunately, a field made Iron Cross is not often encountered, and one with documentation can be considered to be extremely rare. 

Click on images to enlarge

The obverse and reverse of a field made iron cross.  Compared to a standard manufactured cross, the crudeness is obvious.  

WC Stump Collection

Preliminary award document for the Iron Cross pictured above on the left, the official on the right.

WC Stump Collection

An extremely rare photograph that brings this group together; the ships' machinist making Iron Crosses.  On the right, Langer, the recipient, with his full complements of awards. 

WC Stump Collection


Spanish Produced

Spanish mints also produced Iron Crosses during and after World War II.  The quality of these crosses is generally inferior to their German counterparts, and they are constructed using a variety of methods and materials.  These crosses also continued to be made after the war for veterans and collectors alike, since the swastika was not a prohibited symbol in Spain.


The crosses pictured is of Spanish production from the Joan Franch collection.  It measures 44.5mm by 44.5mm.  

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