German Eagle Order, Grand Cross Breast Star with Diamonds
Image courtesy of Angolia, "For Führer and Fatherland - Political and Civil Awards of the Third Reich"
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The Order was instituted by Adolf Hitler on May 1, 1937, as an honorary award conferred upon notable foreigners, particularly diplomats, who were considered sympathetic to the Nazi Regime and its ideals. However, in later years several German citizens were among the ones being awarded the Order.
There were official amendments made to the Order laws on April 10, 1939, and December 27, 1943. In the 1939 amendment, swords were added as a possible award attribute for military personnel. In 1943, the Order was expanded from six classes to nine classes. The names were changed as well, which often results in a certain level of confusion among those unfamiliar with the Order. Between 1937 and 1943, the Order was awarded in different grades, while this was changed to classes in 1943.
The suspension attachments of the Order also changed over time. From 1937 to 1939, the awards were attached to the suspension by a ring, and from 1939 to 1945, the awards were attached to the suspension by a fan. Since these were only introduced in 1939, all awards with swords feature the fan suspenders.
Citizens from countries that did not confer orders upon Germans did not receive the German Eagle Order. These were, for example, USSR, Poland, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, and Norway.
As a rough guideline, certain ranks were expected to receive certain medal grades: Ministers, Ambassadors and commanding Generals often received the Grand Cross, General Lieutenants often received the Merit Cross with Star, Colonels often received the Merit Cross I Class, Majors often received the Merit Cross II class, Captains often received the Merit Cross III Class, and non-Officers often received the Merit Medal. However, this guideline was eventually changed.
One of the most famous recipients of this Order was Benito Mussolini, who was the only recipient of the Grand Cross with Diamonds and the Grand Cross Breast Star with Diamonds.
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