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 Second Class was awarded 191 times during the Second World War. Only four persons received the decoration twice. The Second Class is seen as the highest military award for bravery in Finland, equal to the British Victoria Cross, even if it is only the 9th decoration in order of precedence.