Both the Classes of the Mannerheim Cross were introduced into the Order of the Cross of Liberty, by changing the orders regulations after the Winter War on November 16th 1940. It was specially introduced to be able to decorate meritious actions, regardless of military rank.
The bearer was to be called “Knight of the Mannerheim Cross”.
The First Class was only awarded twice during the Second World War. The awarding of the First Class is a special honour. It is the 5th decoration in precedence of the Finnish awardsystem. It is awarded for extraordinary competence in command at corps level.