The Iron Cross. This simple yet striking symbol has long been synonymous with old world German courage and triumph. Sometimes mistaken for the Maltese Cross, the Iron Cross is one of the most visually powerful and recognizable military awards of all time.
Notorious, yes, but this German medal is also the most historically rich. King Friedrich Wilhelm III introduced it in 1813 during the Prussian War of Liberation against Napoleon. It was re-established in WWI, when over five million combatants were awarded the cross for acts of heroism, bravery, or leadership skills. Hitler, himself, earned one, and in 1939 he resurrected it to evoke the glory of bygone days. It was awarded without regard to nationality or social class.
The Maltese Cross is a powerful symbol as a badge of courage, both ancient and revered. It is the firefighter's symbol of protection. The fireman who wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for you, just as the Knights of St. John made the ultimate sacrifice when they were battling for possession of the Holy Land during the Crusades.
As Knights advanced on the fortifications of Jerusalem, the crusaders were surprised by a new and deadly weapon-glass bombs containing liquid naphtha, followed immediately by flaming torches. Drenched with the flammable liquid, hundreds of the knights were burned alive. But others risked their lives to save their brothers-in-arms from fiery deaths. Those Knights of St. John came from Malta, a little island in the Mediterranean, and the cross therefore became known as the Maltese Cross. It remains the symbol of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and other Orders of St. John.
Below you will find a gallery of inspirational images that will help you in your quest of creating the perfect Maltese or Iron Cross tattoo.