Sometimes called the Maltese cross, the Iron Cross (German: das Eiserne Kreuz) is a military decoration of the Kingdom of Prussia, and later of Germany, which was established by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia and first awarded on 10 March 1813. The Iron Cross is only awarded in wartime. In addition to the Napoleonic Wars, the Iron Cross was awarded during the Franco-Prussian War, and the First and Second World Wars. The Iron Cross has not been awarded since May 1945. It is a military decoration only — civilians are ineligible.
The Iron Cross originally was the symbol of the Teutonic Knights (a heraldic cross pattée) and the cross design (but not the specific decoration) has been the symbol of Germany's armed forces (the Bundeswehr) since about 1870.