The "Blue Max" refers to the Pour le Mérite, a high military order of merit in the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, and later in Nazi Germany. Its official name is the "Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts" (Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste), but it is commonly known as the "Blue Max" because of its blue enamel and cross design.
Originally established in 1740 by King Frederick II of Prussia, the order was initially intended as a military award. However, in 1842, a separate civil class was added to recognize achievements in the arts and sciences.
During World War I, the Pour le Mérite became one of the most prestigious military awards in the German Empire, particularly for aerial achievements. Many German fighter aces, including famous pilots like Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron), were recipients of the Blue Max for their outstanding contributions to air combat.