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Today in History

Country: Germany
Kingdom: Prussia (Preußen)
Orden Pour le Mérite (Blue Max)
Established in 1667 by Margrave Frederick (later to become King Frederick I), the Orden Pour le Mérite was originally known as the Brandenburg Ordre de la Génerosité (Order of Generosity). Reorganized by Frederick II in 1740, it became the Orden Pour le Mérite (Order of Merit) and was awarded to military personnel and civilians. The Order was again reorganized in 1810 by Frederick William III who reserved it solely for individual military achievement on the battlefield against the enemy. After the Prussian army occupied Paris in 1814, a total of 1,662 Pour le Mérites were awarded. Of those, 1,470 Pour le Mérites were awarded to Russians. In 1842, Frederick William IV added a civil class for scholars, painters, sculptors, and musicians. Following the armistice of 1918, the Orden Pour le Mérite was never again awarded for military service.
Criteria: During World War I, Prussia's highest military award, the Orden Pour le Mérite, was awarded to officers for repeated and continual gallantry in action. It was never awarded posthumously and recipients were required to wear the medal whenever they were in uniform.
WWI Awards: Of all officers in the German army and navy, the most frequent recipients of the Orden Pour le Mérite were junior officers in the German Air Force. During World War I, it was awarded to 81 German military aviators: 76 army aviators and  5 naval aviators. Of that total, 78 of the recipients were officers who held the rank of Captain or below.
Recipients - World War I Aces
31 Kissenberth, Otto
30 Jun 1918
32 Klein, Hans
04 Dec 1917
33 Koennecke (Könnecke), Otto
26 Sep 1918
34 Kroll, Heinrich
29 Mar 1918
35 Laumann, Arthur
25 Oct 1918
36 Leffers, Gustav
05 Nov 1916
37 Loerzer, Bruno
12 Feb 1918
38 Loewenhardt (Löwenhardt), Erich
31 May 1918
39 Menckhoff, Karl
23 Apr 1918
40 Mueller (Müller), Max Ritter von
03 Sep 1917
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