Prussian Order Pour Le Mérite
The Prussian Pour le Mérite is an order of merit established in 1740 by King Frederick II of Prussia. The Pour le Mérite was awarded as both a military and civil honour and ranked, along with the Order of the Black Eagle, the Order of the Red Eagle and the House Order of Hohenzollern, among the highest orders of merit in the Kingdom of Prussia. After 1871, when the various German kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities and Hanseatic city-states had come together under Prussian leadership to form the federally structured German Empire, the Prussian honours gradually assumed, at least in public perception, the status of honours of Imperial Germany, even though many honours of the various German states continued to be awarded.
The Pour le Mérite was an honour conferred both for military (1740–1918) and civil (1740–1810, after 1842 as a separate class) services. It was awarded strictly as a recognition of extraordinary personal achievement, rather than as a general marker of social status or a courtesy honour, although certain restrictions of social class and military rank were applied. The order was secular, and membership endured for the remaining lifetime of the recipient unless renounced or revoked.
During the First World War, the Pour le Mérite was known informally as the Blue Max, in honour of flying ace Max Immelmann, the first recipient during the war. Immelmann was also the first aviator ever to win the award.