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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
51 Schaefer (Schäfer), Karl Emil
26 Apr 1918
52 Schleich, Eduard Ritter von
04 Dec 1917
53 Thom, Karl
01 Nov 1918
54 Thuy, Emil
30 Jun 1918
55 Tutschek, Adolf von
03 Aug 1917
56 Udet, Ernst
09 Apr 1918
57 Veltjens, Josef
16 Aug 1918
58 Voss, Werner
08 Apr 1917
59 Walz, Franz
09 Aug 1918
60 Windisch, Rudolf
06 Jun 1918
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