German Order (decoration)

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German Order of the Greater German Reich II.jpg

The German Order or German Order of the Greater German Reich (German: Deutscher Orden des Großdeutschen Reiches) was the highest award of the NSDAP for services to "Reich, party and German people". It was designed by Benno von Arent (de) and awarded by Adolf Hitler. Because the first decorations were awarded posthumously, it also received the inofficial title "Order of the Dead". It must not be confused with the Order of Merit of the German Eagle.


Deutscher Orden des Großdeutschen Reiches.jpg
German Order of the Greater German Reich.jpg

The black enamel cross, titled Golden Cross (Goldenes Kreuz), in the middle section of the award resembled that of the Iron Cross and the medal also had similarities in design to th Order of the German Eagle. It measured 48.5 mm across the arms of the cross. At the center of the medal is the Golden Party Badge, which measured 20.5 mm. In-between the arms of the cross were four party eagles (Parteiadler) with furled wings. Each one of these four golden eagles has an oak leaf wreath (Eichenlaubkranz) surrounding a swastika (Hakenkreuz) in its claws. The highest class had another golden Parteiadler on top with spread wings. This eagle was connected to two small golden oak leaves which on the other hand were connected to a larger golden laurel wreath decorated with crossed golden swords.

The concept of the order was based of the ceremonial regalia of the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, the Marian Cross of the Teutonic Order, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and of the cross of the Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John Bailiwick of Brandenburg (de). The German Order was originally to be awarded in three grades, but only the neck order (the first two classes) was ever awarded. This award is considered the second rarest award of National Socialist Germany after the German National Prize for Art and Science (de), awarded to only nine people.

Adolf Hitler viewed this award as his personal decoration to be bestowed only upon those whose services to the state and party he deemed worthy. For this reason, plus the fact that the reverse of the medal bears a facsimile of his signature, it was also informally known as the 'Hitler Order'.

There were in all eleven confirmed recipients of this award between 1942 and 1945. According to some documents, the order was going to be bestowed on Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler and Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz for their wartime service, but the Wehrmacht surrendered before they could be awarded.


  • 1st Class/Grade: Golden Cross with Laurel Wreath and Swords (neck order)
    • there was also a special level with Golden Oak Leaf and Swords, it is not clear, if it is to be placed above the Golden Cross with Laurel Wreath or below as a higher grade of the 2nd class.
    • isolated sources indicate a breast star for the neck order, but their is no proof of actual existence, apart from fantasy products that can be bought on the internet.[1]
  • 2nd Class/Grade: Golden Cross (neck order)
  • 3rd Class/Grade: Golden Cross (pin-on decoration)


  • Fritz Todt (de), 11 February 1942 (posthumous)
    • Adolf Hitler solemnly laid the order on Todt's medal pillow after his eulogy on 12 February 1942
  • Reinhard Heydrich (de), 9 June 1942 (posthumous)
  • Adolf Hühnlein (de), 22 June 1942 (posthumous)
  • Viktor Lutze (de), 7 May 1943 (posthumous)
  • Adolf Wagner (de), 17 April 1944 (posthumous)
  • Josef Bürckel (de), 3 October 1944 (posthumous)
  • Rudolf Schmundt (de), 7 October 1944 (posthumous)
  • Konstantin Hierl (de), 24 February 1945
  • Karl Hanke (de), 12 April 1945 (shot upon during a POW escape attempt at a transport on 8 June 1945 and then beaten to death by Czech communists)
  • Karl Holz (de), 19 April 1945 (Gauleiter, on 20 April 1945)
  • Artur Axmann (de), 28 April 1945