Order of the Cross of Liberty
There are three official orders
Order (decoration)
An order or order of merit is a visible honour, awarded by a government, dynastic house or international organization to an individual, usually in recognition of distinguished service to a nation or to humanity. The distinction between orders and decorations is somewhat vague, except that most...

 in Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

: the Order of the Cross of Liberty , the Order of the White Rose
Order of the White Rose
The Order of the White Rose of Finland is one of three official orders in Finland, along with the Order of the Cross of Liberty, and the Order of the Lion of Finland. The President of Finland is the Grand Master of all three orders. The orders are administered by boards consisting of a chancellor,...

 of Finland and the Order of the Lion of Finland
Order of the Lion of Finland
There are three official orders in Finland: the Order of the Cross of Liberty, the Order of the White Rose of Finland and the Order of the Lion of Finland . The President of Finland is the Grand Master of all three orders. The orders are administered by boards consisting of a chancellor, a...

. The President of Finland
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

 is the Grand Master of the two orders, and usually of the Order of the Cross of Liberty as well, Grand Mastership of which is attached to the position of Commander-in-chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

. The orders are administered by boards consisting of a chancellor, a vice-chancellor and at least four members. The orders of the White Rose of Finland and the Lion of Finland have a joint board.

The Order of the Cross of Liberty was founded on March 4, 1918, upon the initiative of General C.G. Mannerheim
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was the military leader of the Whites in the Finnish Civil War, Commander-in-Chief of Finland's Defence Forces during World War II, Marshal of Finland, and a Finnish statesman. He was Regent of Finland and the sixth President of Finland...

. The Finnish artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was a Finnish painter who is best known for his illustrations of the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic . His work was considered very important for the Finnish national identity...

 was commissioned to design the Order's insignia with the swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...


At its foundation there were seven classes: grand cross, cross of liberty (1st to 4th class) and the medal of liberty (1st and 2nd class). The decorations of the Order of the Cross of Liberty were initially conferred only in time of war. A decree was issued on 18 August 1944 enabling the decorations to be awarded in peacetime.

The Cross of Liberty has a red ribbon when it is granted in wartime and a yellow ribbon when it is awarded in peacetime.

Decorations of the order were awarded in great numbers during the WWII, partly due to Marshal Mannerheim having issued an order that wounded soldiers were to be awarded for their sacrifice, and Finland has no separate decoration for wounded, Cross of Liberty is usually reserved for commissioned officers, with Medal of Liberty being awarded for soldiers of junior rate and NCOs.


The classes of the Order of the Cross of Liberty, in descending order, are:
  • Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Liberty
  • Cross of Liberty, 1st Class with a grand star
  • Cross of Liberty, 1st Class
  • Cross of Liberty, 2nd Class
  • Cross of Liberty, 3rd Class
  • Cross of Liberty, 4th Class
  • Medal of Liberty, 1st Class
  • Medal for Merit, 1st Class
  • Medal of Liberty, 2nd Class
  • Medal for Merit, 2nd Class

Associated with the Order is the Mannerheim Cross
Mannerheim Cross
The Mannerheim Cross of Liberty is the highest Finnish military decoration. The medal was introduced after the Winter War and named after Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim...

, which is discussed in a separate article.

Other special decorations awarded during the Second World War include:
  • Medal of Liberty 1st Class on Rosette Ribbon (only awarded once, to Field Marshal Mannerheim)
  • Gold Medal of Merit (only awarded once, to General Waldemar Erfurth
    Waldemar Erfurth
    Waldemar Erfurth was a German general in the infantry.Erfurth was born in Berlin. During the Second World War he was a liaison officer in the Finnish headquarters 1941-1944. He wrote a book about the Murman railroad and a war journal from 1944...

    , 13 June 1944)
  • Cross of Mourning (Given to the nearest relative of a soldier killed in action)
  • Medal of Mourning (Given to the nearest relative of a person killed in non-military duty of war industry or national defence.)

Notable recipients

  • Arthur Zimmermann
    Arthur Zimmermann
    Arthur Zimmermann was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Empire from November 22, 1916, until his resignation on August 6, 1917. His name is associated with the Zimmermann Telegram during World War I...

  • Rüdiger von der Goltz
    Rüdiger von der Goltz
    Gustav Adolf Joachim Rüdiger, Graf von der Goltz was German Army general during World War I. After World War I he was the commander of the army of the Baltic German-established Government of Latvia, which played an instrumental role in the defeat of Russian Bolsheviks and their local allies in...

  • Einar Lundborg
    Einar Lundborg
    Einar Lundborg was a Swedish aviator.Lundborg became famous in 1928 in connection with his rescue of Umberto Nobile after Nobile's airship crash on the ice north of Spitsbergen...

    , Swedish aviator who participated in the Finnish Civil War
    Finnish Civil War
    The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national, political and social turmoil caused by World War I in Europe. The Civil War concerned control and leadership of The Grand Duchy of Finland as it achieved independence from Russia after the October Revolution in Petrograd...

  • Simo Häyhä
    Simo Häyhä
    Simo Häyhä , nicknamed "White Death" by the Red Army, was a Finnish sniper. Using a modified Mosin–Nagant in the Winter War, he has the highest recorded number of confirmed sniper kills - 505 - in any major war....

    , Finnish sniper with a confirmed body count of 505 during the Winter War
    Winter War
    The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...

     (Cross of Liberty, 3rd and 4th class; Medal of Liberty, 1st and 2nd class)
  • Erich Raeder
    Erich Raeder
    Erich Johann Albert Raeder was a naval leader in Germany before and during World War II. Raeder attained the highest possible naval rank—that of Großadmiral — in 1939, becoming the first person to hold that rank since Alfred von Tirpitz...

    , German naval leader during World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     (Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Liberty)
  • Walter Nowotny
    Walter Nowotny
    Major Walter "Nowi" Nowotny was an Austrian-born German fighter ace of World War II. He is credited with 258 aerial victories in 442 combat missions...

    , Austrian-born German fighter ace during World War II (Cross of Liberty 1st Class)
  • Jorma Sarvanto
    Jorma Sarvanto
    Jorma Kalevi Sarvanto was a Finnish Air Force pilot and the foremost Finnish fighter ace of the Winter War.-Early life:...

    , foremost Finnish fighter ace of the Winter War (Cross of Liberty 2nd Class, with swords)

External links

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