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-   -   Die Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges (http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1010789)

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:23 AM

Die Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges
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I would like to present a thread on the Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges [German Commemorative Honor Medal of the World War] featuring the specimens from my collection.

This is the second most common of the unofficial Weimar-Era commemorative awards for WWI (by far the most common one being the Kyffhäuserbund's medal).

For those unfamiliar with the background of this medal, here is a brief history:

Following WWI, the Kyffhäuserbund veterans' association made a petition to the office of the Reichs Chancellor towards the creation of a commemorative medal for the Great War of 1914/18. After the matter had been passed through several government ministries, the Reichswehrminister [Secretary of the Armed Forces] pointed out the various difficulties that the creation of such a medal would involve (not least the cost for an estimated 15,000,000 required medals) and recommended the cabinet not to institute such a medal. The cabinet followed his proposal.

The consequence of this was that there would be no official decoration awarded for participation in World War I. This meant breaking with a long tradition: Such medals had existed since the wars of 1813/1815, but now, following the largest, most severe and most fateful conflict in all of Germany’s history, no such decoration would come to be.

Needless to say, this fact was extremely unpopular with WWI veterans who felt they were entitled to such a medal just like those who had fought in the earlier wars. (Naturally, that wish would have been particularly strong in those who had done their duty faithfully, but had not been bestowed any award during the war.)
In order to meet this demand and rectify the perceived injustice, a large number of unofficial decorations sprang up during the Weimar years, some awarded by already-existing veterans’ associations, some by new organizations that had been specifically created for this purpose, some born of genuine patriotic feelings, some primarily from good business sense.

Among the best-known and most significant of these unofficial decorations was the Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges [German Commemorative Honor Medal of the World War]. Its creation was proposed within the membership of the Verband nationalgesinnter Soldaten [Association of nationally-minded soldiers]. For the purpose of this project, an Ordensrat i.V. [Order Council i.V.] was created as a new body of the association in 1921. The “i.V.” is the abbreviation for “in Vertretung”, literally meaning “as substitute”, but better translated as “by proxy” or “per pro”. This suffix was used to make it clear that the council considered itself to be acting for the abdicated and exiled Kaiser and the government. However, it should be noted that the Kaiser-in-exile expressly distanced himself from the organization and the medal.

Around the time of the banning of the Verband in Prussia (1922/1923), the Ordensrat became an independent organization. Its members were former “old army” soldiers of all ranks, presided by an Ehrenmarschall [Honor Marshal], Kanzler [Chancellor] and Vorstand [Board].
The medal could be awarded to “all men and women whose worthiness of the decoration has been proven by their written word of honor declaring that they had striven to fulfill their duty for the German Fatherland to the best of their knowledge and conscience during the World War and the subsequent period”. Men who gave their word that they had faced the enemy as frontline combatants were awarded the additional Kampfabzeichen [Combat Badge] which consisted of a sword-and-oak wreath device worn on the medal ribbon and ribbon bar.

These award criteria were extremely broad and vague and meant that just about any patriotic German – man or woman, soldier or civilian – who had supported their country in any way at all during the war years qualified for the basic medal. Active frontline soldiers were distinguished by the Kampfabzeichen, but of course, none of the recipients had to actually prove their eligibility for the medal or the combat device beyond saying so.
However, it was fully intended to bestow the medal on as many recipients as possible: Holders of the medal who so wished became members of the so-called Deutsche Ehrenlegion [German Legion of Honor] whose board was identical to that of the Ordensrat i.V., but which was otherwise independent of the latter. With the Ehrenlegion, it was very much desired to create a large, nationwide, patriotic association with the medal as its common decoration and identifying insigne.

When all unofficial Weimar-era decorations were banned by new laws of 15 May 1934, the Ordensrat i.V. ceased its activities and voluntarily disbanded with its final board meeting of 28 July 1934. Existing profits of 15,000 Reichsmarks were donated to the government, to be used for the benefit of the war-disabled. The Deutsche Ehrenlegion continued for a while, but was eventually absorbed by the Kyffhäuserbund.

The look of the medal and its ribbon were based on a design that the artist Franz Stassen (1869 – 1949) had submitted to the German government in the last months of World War I. Since 1917, plans had been made to institute a commemorative medal for participants in the Great War and, after the German Emperor and King of Prussia Wilhelm II. as well as all other German regents had agreed, the actual design process begin in July 1918. However, as we have seen, the end of the German monarchy and the subsequent political changes put an end to this project.
In Stassen’s original design, the obverse of the medal featured a portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm II. For the final Ehrendenkmünze, Stassen designed a new obverse depicting the goddess of victory crowning a soldier with a laurel wreath, whereas the reverse (showing a 1914 Iron Cross with the words “FÜRS VATERLAND” [“FOR THE FATHERLAND”] and decorative oak leaves ornamentation) and the ribbon in Germany’s national colors of black, white and red were unchanged from the initial design.
The medal came in bronze, copper-toned and gold-plated variants.

The basic full-size and miniature medal in unmounted condition:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:28 AM

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A nice mounted example of the medal with the Kampfabzeichen [Combat Device] complete with matching ribbon bar:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:31 AM

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A triangular Austrian mount:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:37 AM

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Of similiar construction, but with the ribbon folded in the pentagonal Saxon mounting style:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:42 AM

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A mounted full-size medal with the Kampfabzeichen and the lapel bow to go with it.

The mounting style is interesting. The ribbon is folded over and fitted with a snap button closure. Apparently, it was to be attached to a horizontal thread loop sewn to the garment it was worn on (as was the practice with Austrian uniforms).

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:43 AM

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A closer look at the lapel bow:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 06:53 AM

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The medal mounted on a ribbon bow.

Note that the Kampfabzeichen is pointing downwards, which is sometimes seen, but is an error, as it is supposed to point upwards.

(Of course, if we flip the medal over, it's the right side up, but in that case the wrong side of the medal is displayed...)

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:02 AM

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A two-place medal bar combining the Ehrendenkmünze (with Kampfabzeichen) and the Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes [War Commemorative Medal 1914/18 of the Kyffhäuserbund] (a very common combination).

The bar has a homemade appearance. The backing is cloth-covered cardboard and lacking a pin-and-hinge assembly or other means of attachment (apparently, it was attached with safety pins). Also note that a different, yellow-and blue medal ribbon can be made out behind the ribbons.

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:06 AM

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Another homemade two-place bar, this one being for a non-combatant, combining the Prussian Rote-Kreuz-Medaille III. Klasse [Red Cross Medal III. Class] with the Ehrendenkmünze:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:09 AM

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Two three-place bars, both combining the Ehrendenkmünze with the 1914 EK2 and, again, the Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:10 AM

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The second one:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:16 AM

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Two ribbon bars: A two-place-bar with the EK II and the DEdW with Kampfabzichen and a five-place ribbon bar for a Bavarian WW I veteran, neatly mounted in the traditional South German style. Typical for the Weimar era, two official decorations are followed by three unofficial ones. The ribbons are:
  • Bayerischer Militärverdienstorden [Bavarian Military Merit Order, 3rd or 4th Class) or, more likely, Bayerisches Militärverdienstkreuz [Bavarian Military Merit Cross, 1st, 2nd or 3rd Class)
  • Eisernes Kreuz II. Klase [Iron Cross 2nd Class] of 1914
  • Ehren- und Erinnerungskreuz des Marinekorps Flandern [Honor- and Commemorative Cross of the Naval Corps Flanders] or Flandernkreuz [Flanders Cross] for short
  • Deutsche Ehrendenkmünze des Weltkrieges [German Commemorative Honor Medal of the World War]
  • Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes [War Commemorative Medal 1914/18 of the Kyffhäuserbund]

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:17 AM

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A Bandrolle [ribbon roll] for wear in the buttonhole of a civilian suit:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:21 AM

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Now for some paperwork.

There were two different basic types of award document for the medal (with minor variants each). A large one of very elaborate design, and a somewhat simpler and smaller one introduced in 1923.

An example of the large one. The recipient was Leutnant der Landwehr außer Dienst (i.e. a former 2nd Lt. of the secondary reserves) Max Beier of Berlin-Pankow. Beier's Ehrenlegion membership entry is on the reverse.
The document measures 24.5 x 34.5 cm:

HPL2008 07-20-2019 07:24 AM

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The smaller one, measuring 24 x 17 cm.

This certificate was for Mr. Hermann Petry of Cassel (older spelling of Kassel). The rank designation Oberjäger was used by the Jägertruppe (light infantry) instead of Unteroffizier [Corporal].

The facsimile signature is that of the Legion's Ordenskanzler [Order Chancellor], Rudolf-Hering Deutschwehr, a former army Hauptmann [Captain].

The reverse certifies the award holder's membership in the Ehrenlegion, into which he was accepted on 11th June 1924 with membership no. 891,092. Only the handwritten date and number are clearly legible, the stamps having faded away over the decades.

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