Pour le Merite.
This is coolbert:
In the years prior to and during World War One [WW1], the highest military decoration that could be awarded by German was the Pour le Merite.
"The Pour le Mérite, known informally during World War I as the Blue Max (German: Blauer Max), was the Kingdom of Prussia's highest military order until the end of World War I."
Known colloquially as the "Blue Max", was normally awarded ONLY to general officers of the highest echelons of command. Those most senior officers who had displayed long and continuous service to the German Empire, and done so with excellence.
Rarely awarded to junior officers, and NEVER [?] to an enlisted man.
[enlisted men and junior officers displaying great courage on the battlefield in a single act of heroism would be awarded the Iron Cross in varying degrees of accomplishment.]
Again, the "Blue Max" was rarely given to a junior officer. But, on occasion, certain select persons were recognized as having performed in such a significant and outstanding manner, that no other decoration was suitable.
From World War One, we find the names of: [junior officers receiving the "Blue Max"]
* Irwin Rommel.
* Manfred von Richthofen.
* Karl August Nerger.
"Karl August Nerger (25 February 1875 – 12 January 1947) was a naval officer of the Imperial German Navy in World War I, who achieved fame and recognition during the war for his command of the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf."
"Karl August Nerger, German auxiliary cruiser commander; one of only two junior officers to receive the highest military honors of the five main German states: the Pour le Mérite, Bavaria's Military Order of Max Joseph, Saxony's Military Order of St. Henry, Württemberg's Military Merit Order, and Baden's Military Karl-Friedrich Merit Order."
* Nikolaus Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien.
[translation from the German]
"Nikolaus Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien, German auxiliary cruiser commander; one of only two junior officers to receive the highest military honors of the five main German states: the Pour le Mérite, Bavaria's Military Order of Max Joseph, Saxony's Military Order of St. Henry, Württemberg's Military Merit Order, and Baden's Military Karl-Friedrich Merit Order"
The names of Rommel and von Richthofen of course need no introduction. The latter two junior officers commanders of German auxiliary cruiser [surface raiders].
Please look closely at the photographs [one of course is a watercolor [?]] accompanying this blog entry. NO smiles, long over-coats with the up-turned collars, crush caps, medal displayed around the neck, the faces displaying a condescending arrogance? Haughty demeanor well deserved and merited? After all, these are men who have won the Pour le Merite.
In the case of Richthofen ["Red Baron"] and the Graf [count] Dohna-Schlodien, both were men of minor German nobility but impeccable lineage nonetheless. Appearances of an arrogant and haughty nature are an expected part of their station and rank!!??