On December 29, 1944 Hitler created the Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Goldenem Eichenlaub Schwertern und Brillanten). This was to be the highest gallantry decoration of the Third Reich, and its conception was prompted by the achievements of an incredible Luftwaffe officer, Stuka ace Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel. As a pilot in the Russian front, Rudel flew an astonishing 2,530 sorties and destroyed almost 500 tanks. He had won every decoration possible, yet continued to distinguish himself in battle. On January 1, 1945 he was presented with the Golden Oak Leaves (his story will soon be featured in the recipients section).
The award consisted of a clasp exactly like the Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds but constructed in eighteen-carat gold. The Golden Diamonds, produced by the Godet firm of Berlin, was hand crafted and fitted with fifty brilliants. Hitler had intended to limit the award to a maximum of twelve, contingent on Axis victory, but as evens unfolded Rudel was the lone recipient. Due to the late stage of the war in which the award was presented, no special documents were created for it.
Golden Oak Leaves
Swords and Diamonds
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