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Medaille "Für Tapferkeit im Weltkriege 1914-1918", a.k.a. Kriegsdenkmünze des Bundes Deutscher Marine Vereine

Medal "For Valour in the World War 1914-1918", also known as "Commemorative Medal of the Union of German Naval Veterans Associations"

Medal was instituted in November 1922 by the Union of German Naval Veterans Associations (Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine, BDMV), a veterans organization created at the end of XIX century and known under above-mentioned name in 1922-1935. 

Initially known as German Naval Union (Deutschen Marine-Bund, DMB) it was founded on June 27, 1891 in Kiel and incorporated 16 veterans' associations with manpower of 1,000 members approximately. Active and retired naval military personnel of any rank were eligible to become members of the Union, and this rule remained unchanged until the World War II. 

Korvettenkapitän a.D. [außer Dienst] (i.e. retired) Johannes Meller, chairman of the Kiel-based "Prinz Heinrich" Union (Marineverein Prinz Heinrich von Preußen) was elected as the first president of the German Naval Union. 

The following objectives were declared by Deutschen Marine-Bund upon its creation: 

1. To represent interests of naval military personnel independently but with a full acknowledgement of Reichskriegerbund prior significance and with a close coordination of activities;
2. To encourage and strengthen feeling of comradeship and solidarity among retired naval personnel, to promote maritime traditions and customs;
3. To render support and give help to fellow members of the Union. 

German Naval Union changed its name to Association of German Naval Societies (Vereinigung Deutscher Marine-Vereine, VDM) in 1893, in 1907 VDM headquarters moved to Bremen from Kiel and in 1908 it entered an official company register. 

Main objectives of the Association altered slightly by 1908 and included the following goals: 

1. Propagate love to Emperor, sovereign rulers and Fatherland;
2. To strengthen ties between naval societies;
3. To maintain spirit of comradeship;
4. To guarantee activities for the benefit of all the members and provide material backing and support from the assets of the Association's mutual aid funds. 

By 1913 Association of German Naval Societies consisted of 269 various veteran's associations out of 379 that existed in the German Empire at that very moment. Three years later, in 1916 it comprised of 348 naval veteran's associations already. 

As mentioned before in 1922-1935 that umbrella organization was known under the name of Registered Association Union of German Naval Veterans Associations (Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine, e.V. [eingetragener Verein]). As it can easily be seen from the full name it was stressed that an association had a status of a legally registered noncommercial organization. Recalled to service Rear admiral (Kontreadmiral z.D. [zur Dienstleistung]) Heinrich Trendtel (1864-1943) was its fist chairman.
Lending a hand to veterans in need, arrangement of various comradely functions as well as perpetuating the memory of sailors fallen during the Great War were the main objectives of the Union. 

According to the Union's charter embraced in 1922 its main task was "to maintain continuous gratitude to the German Fatherland and the whole German nation from members of all the naval associations whether existent in the German Empire or created recently and to assert rights of disabled naval veterans as well as of relatives of fallen comrades". 

Beyond all doubt the most impressive heritage of Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine from the Weimar-era period of its existence is the Laboe Naval Memorial, conceived by the governing body of the Union as far back as in 1925. The next year saw construction started in Laboe (Schleswig-Holstein), near Kiel. Completed in 1936, a 72-metre high memorial designed by the German architect Gustav August Munzer (09.01.1887-23.08.1973) commemorated fallen sailors of Kaiserliche Marine during the World War I. 

Ambitious project that was rededicated to memorialize fallen sailors of all nantionalities during both World Wars in 1954, was financed by the Union in full thanks to donations and contributions from wealthy members as well as from public. 

By 1932 Union of German Naval Veterans Associations numbered approximately 35,000 members of 600 various veterans societies. 

By January 01, 1933 Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine consisted of 21 district associations (Gauverband) with chairs in the following cities: 

Baden – Offenburg
Bavaria (Bayern) – Munich
Berlin-Brandenburg – Berlin
Danzig – Danzig
East Prussia (Ostpreußen) – Königsberg
Ems – Osnabrück
Hesse-Waldeck (Hessen-Waldeck) – Kassel
Lower Elbe (Niederelbe) – Wilhelmsburg I, district of Hamburg
Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) – Hanover
Mecklenburg-Lübeck – Lübeck
Niederwald – Frankfurt am Main
Nordmark – Kiel
Nordwest – Oldenburg
Pommern – Stettin
Rhine-Westphalia (Rheinland-Westfalen) – Düsseldorf
Saar-Rhineland-Palatinate (Saar-Rheinpfalz) – Friedrichsthal / Saar
Saxony (Sachsen) – Dresden
Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt) – Magdeburg
Silesia (Schlesien) – Beuthen
Thuringia (Thüringen) – Erfurt
Württemberg – Stuttgart 

Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine was renamed Registered Noncommercial Organization National Socialist German Naval Union (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Marine-Bund e.V. [eingetragener Verein], NSDMB) in 1935 and was disbanded in 1945 after defeat of Germany in the World War II. The Union was reinstituted on December 20, 1952 in Wilhelmshafen as German Naval Union (Deutsche Marinebund e.V.) and united all naval veterans associations and societies in West Germany. 

Here's a complete list of chairmen of Bund Deutscher Marine-Vereine that was known under different names since its creation in June 27, 1891: 

1891-1892: Korvettenkapitän a.D. Johannes Meller (1839-????)
1893-1895: Kamerad Potenberg
1896-1899: Korvettenkapitän a.D. Johannes Meller (1839-????)
1899-1901: Vizeadmiral a.D. Karl Heinrich Theodor Paschen (09.06.1835-24.02.1911)
1901-1905: Werft-Maschinenmeister a.D. Berthold Fritsch
1905-1908: Marineoberzahlmeister a.D. Friedrich Jahn
1908-1919: Kontreadmiral a.D. Adolf Thiele (1853-1941)
1919-1928: Kontreadmiral a.D. Heinrich Trendtel (1864-1943)
1928-1933: Vizeadmiral a.D. Bernhard Rösing (29.10.1869-10.01.1947)
1933: Kontreadmiral a.D. Friedrich Lützow (31.08.1881-01.11.1964)
1933: Kontreadmiral a.D. Ernst Hintzmann (23.06.1880-17.01.1951)
1941-1945: Kontreadmiral a.D. Karl Klüpfel (1878-1962)
1952-1953: Ingenieur Karl Beutz (1896-1959)
1953-1956: Fregattenkapitän a.D. Otto Kretschmer (01.05.1912-05.08.1998)
1956-1958: Vizeadmiral a.D. Hellmuth Heye (09.08.1895-10.11.1970)
1958-1967: Kontreadmiral a.D. Ernst Lucht (27.02.1896-02.11.1975)
1967-1969: Kontreadmiral a.D. Kurt Weyher (30.08.1901-17.12.1991)
1969-1983: Fregattenkapitän a.D. Friedrich Rohlfing (1910-1992)
1983-1991: Kontreadmiral a.D. Hans-Arend Feindt (29.10.1921-02.02.2002)
1991-1999: Flotillenadmiral a.D. Hansdieter Christmann (27.08.1933-06.02.2008)
1999-2005: Kapitän zur See a.D. Michael Kämpf (born 1940)
Since 2005: Oberstabsbootsmann a.D. Karl Heid (born 1939) 

Having completed that necessary historical digression let's return to the main subject of an article. 

Medal "For Valour in the World War 1914-1918" was issued to members of Union of German Naval Veterans Associations who enjoyed the status of WWI combatants. As all the other Weimar-era badges, that medal had to be purchased at veteran's own expenses. Procedure of its acquiring was as follows. Veteran had to send an appropriate written application form in unrestricted format, get it signed by a chairman of a district association and send it by post together with stamps worth 20 Pfennigs to Bremen headquarters. Full name, date of birth and home address were compulsory. Local authorities had to verify participation of an applicant in the World war and certify his membership with the Union. After consideration by HQ a medal was sent to a veteran to his postal address via collect on delivery option. An envelope contained medal, 10 cm ribbon and award document ("Besitz-Zeugnis") signed by the chairman of the Union Rear admiral Heinrich Trendtel. Payment forward worth 1,90 Mark was collected by a postman, postal expenses were paid separately. 

Additional medal with or without ribbon was available for further purchase via collect on delivery option for the price of 1 Mark (medal) and 20 Pfennigs (ribbon) plus additional postage fees. 

Design of a medal "For Valour in the World War 1914-1918" was elaborated by a German sculptor and artist Karl Ludwig Manzel (03.06.1858 – 20.06.1936). An obverse shows a sailor standing up straight and gripping a flying war ensign of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) with both hands. Composition was based on a painting "The last crewman" by a Berlin artist Johannes Bohrdt (11.02.1857 – 19.12.1945) that depicted survived sailor from German light cruiser SMS Nürnberg that was sunk on December 08, 1914 by a British armoured cruiser HMS Kent in the battle of the Falkland Islands. Dates of the Great War (1914 and 1918) divided by inclined anchor are situated at his right. Name of designer ("L.Manzel") is situated at the left while inscription "You remained loyal" ("Haltet die Treue") is placed at the bottom in semicircle. 

A reverse has an intricate maritime composition: silhouette of a warship and sunrise over Heligoland Bight, venue of the first naval battle of the Great War that was fought on August 28, 1914 and resulted in British victory, serve as a background. German submarine is situated at the foreground. Upper part has two inscriptions running in semicircle each: "Union of German Naval Veterans Associations" ("Der Bund Deutscher Marine Vereine") and "For Valour in the World War" ("Für Tapferkeit im Weltkriege") below in slightly smaller print. 

Circular medal was 40 mm in diameter and was made of bronze or Buntmetall, a yellow colour alloy of nonferrous metals. Manufacturer of a medal "For Valour in the World War 1914-1918" was Schrobenhausen-based Bavarian company Carl Poellath. 

Ribbon of a medal was made of black silk and had a vertical tricolor in traditional German colours – red, white and black – bordered by two thin white stripes
Medal was worn on a ribbon as well as on bow. 

 

Gefechtsspange "Skagerrak"

Battle clasp "Skagerrak"

Members of the Union of German Naval Veterans Associations already decorated with a medal "For Valour in the World War 1914-1918" were eligible for the "Skagerrak" battle clasp provided they participated in the Battle of Jutland known in Germany as Seeschlacht vor dem Skagerrak or Skagerrakschlacht. That was the largest naval battle of the World War I fought on May 31 and June 01, 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland peninsula (Denmark) between High Seas Fleet of the German Empire and Grand Fleet of the British Empire. 

Horizontal battle clasp of a refined shape was made of bronze and measured 10x33 mm. Inscription "Skagerrak" was made in capital letters. 

A clasp was purchased by veterans at their own expenses and cost 30 Pfennigs.

 

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Tapferkeit 1