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I am excluding combat badges etc from WW2 and simply the AMOUNT of medals earned.

Who would it be?

Would Schörner Qualify? With the WW1 PLM and WW2 Oakleaves, swords and diamonds to the knights cross he pretty much reached the highest peaks in both wars?

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Hi Chris,

I think it is him:

https://www.dhm.de/lemo/biografie/erwin-rommel

Regards

Andreas

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You really need more clear criteria. By itself, "most highly decorated" might be limited to Hans Ulrich Rudel, since his Golden Oakleaves places him ahead of the other Brilliantenträger. But even that is arguable, since Hermann Göring's Grand Cross of the Iron Cross outranked all classes of the Ritterkreuz (and, of course, as a fellow recipient of the Pour le Mérite, he matches Schörner and Rommel on that front). You can dismiss Göring's award as really for the actions of the Luftwaffe as a whole, rather than Göring as ain individual, but that begs the question, since you can do the same thing for many awards of the Knight's Cross, and of the Pour le Mérite, for that matter, which were as much awards for successful combat leadership as for individual acts of valor. 

Looking solely at the highest class of the highest military award, the most highly decorated would appear to be Gebhard von Blücher and Paul von Hindenburg. They were the only recipients of the Star to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross. Technically, of course, Blücher was a Prussian soldier, not a German soldier, since there was no Germany at the time. Though if you want to get hyper-technical, Hindenburg was also a Prussian soldier, while Schörner was a Bavarian and Rommel a Württemberger (though the Württemberg Army was integrated into the Prussian Army in almost all respects). The Pour le Mérite and the pre-1939 Iron Cross were Prussian awards, not German ones, though in World War I they were treated for the most part as generically German. 

So how do we regard the other highest purely military awards of the German states? In terms of prestige, the Bavarian Military Max Joseph Order certainly has its value, especially given the added benefit of ennoblement. The Military St. Heinrich Order of Saxony, the Württemberg Military Merit Order, and Baden's Military Karl Friedrich Merit Order also merit mention. I would argue that the Saxon and Württemberg orders were diminished in prestige by being over-awarded in comparison to the Prussian, Bavarian and Baden orders, but that's a bit subjective. 

With regard to the names already mentioned, Rommel had the Württemberg Military Merit Order in addition to his Diamonds and plM, and Göring had the Military Karl Friedrich Merit Order in addition to his Grand Cross and plM. Schörner did not receive the Max Joseph. If you were just to compare two Bavarians, how does Schörner's receipt of the Diamonds but lack of the Max Joseph match up with Robert Ritter von Greim's Oakleaves and Swords, plus the plM and the Max Joseph?

Without picking a specific person, but merely as food for thought, here are as far as I know all of the recipients of one or more of the highest Imperial military awards and of one of the highest classes of the 1939 Iron Cross:

Grand Cross of the Iron Cross:
Hermann Göring - Pour le Mérite, Military Karl Friedrich Merit Order

Knight's Cross with Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds:
Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke - Prussian Golden Military Merit Cross ("Pour le Mérite for NCOs and men")
Erwin Rommel - Pour le Mérite, Württemberg Military Merit Order
Ferdinand Schörner - Pour le Mérite

Knight's Cross with Oakleaves and Swords:
Robert Ritter von Greim - Pour le Mérite, Military Max Joseph Order
Walter Hartmann - Military St. Heinrich Order
Friedrich Kirchner - Military St. Heinrich Order
Werner Mummert - Military St. Heinrich Order
Georg Postel - Military St. Heinrich Order
Hans Reinhardt - Military St. Heinrich Order
Maximilian Wengler - Military St. Heinrich Order

Leaving aside World War II veterans, it's pretty much Hindenburg, since he not only had the Star to the Grand Cross and the plM with Oakleaves, but also the Grand Crosses of the Baden, Bavarian, Saxon and Württemberg orders noted above. The only other recipients of the plM with Oakleaves and the highest awards of the other four states were Crown Prince Wilhelm, Crown Prince Rupprecht and Duke Albrecht (Albrecht's St. Heinrich was a Commander with Star, otherwise all had Grand Crosses of the various orders).  

Among combat officers rather than royals and generals, the two standouts are Karl August Nerger and Nikolaus Burggraf und Graf zu Dohna-Schlodien, the two commerce raiders and the only non-royal/general officer recipients of all five state awards.

TL;DR: Hindenburg, Göring, Rommel

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