he Pour le Mérite (Fr.: For Merit), known informally as the Blue Max (German: Blauer Max), was the German Kingdom of Prussia's highest order of merit. It was awarded strictly as a recognition of extraordinary personal achievement, rather than as a general marker of social status or a courtesy-honor, although certain restrictions of social class and military rank were applied. The award was given as both a military (1740–1918) and civil (1740–1810, after 1842 as a separate class) honor.
The award was founded in 1740 by Frederick the Great; it was intended primarily as a military honor, but was also sometimes given for civil accomplishments. New awards of the military class ceased with the end of the Prussian monarchy after World War I in November 1918.