Das Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwerter (The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords)

Awarded to Michael Wittmann on 22nd June 1944 as SS-Obersturmführer and Tiger I Commander/Commanding Officer of 1. (schwere) SS Panzer Abteilung 501, 1. SS Panzer Korps Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, Normandy, following the single-handed destruction of a total of twenty-seven tanks and assorted vehicles in and around the village of Villers-Bocage.

Instituted on the day of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, 22nd June 1941, the Swords were awarded to existing Knight’s Cross and Oakleaves holders who were considered worthy of further accreditation. Although the award itself was simply known as the “Swords” (Schwerter), it was in fact a single two-piece construction consisting of the Oakleaves surmounting a pair of crossed swords, usually struck in .800 or .935 grade silver.

Das Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwerter (The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords)
Das Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwerter (The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves and Swords)
An image of a steely-faced Wittmann during the late summer of 1944 in Normandy, after the award of the Swords
An image of a steely-faced Wittmann during the late summer of 1944 in Normandy, after the award of the Swords

Like the single Oakleaf construction (qv.), to the reverse of the award was attached a ribbon loop, which was to be attached to the cross itself. Similarly, the award was presented in its own special black lined case with a length of replacement 45mm or 46mm silk ribbon.

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