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Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes

War Commemorative Medal 1914/1918 of the Kyffhäuser Union

War Commemorative Medal of the Kyffhäuser Union was instituted on June 18, 1921 by the Kyffhäuser Bund, an umbrella organization of German veterans’ and reservists’ associations, in conjunction with the 25th jubilee of the erection of the Kyffhäuser monument (Kyffhäuser-Denkmal) in Thuringia.

The following statement appeared in the statuary document: “1914-1918 World War veterans keep on expressing their unanimous desire in establishment of a badge commemorating feat of arms of frontline soldiers, loyal service of reserve troops as well as selfless labor at the home front. Definitive refusal of German government to institute such a war medal made governing body of Kyffhäuser Union of German territorial veterans’ associations come to a decision to institute 1914-1918 War Commemorative Medal by agreement with the Home Ministry and in conjunction with the 25th jubilee of the erection of the Kyffhäuser monument. Former combatants, reservists and those having served at the home front during the World War 1914-1918 as a part of the Army, the Navy and the Colonial troops provided they are members of Kyffhäuser Union, are eligible for a badge”.

Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes was designed by a German sculptor professor Hermann Kurt Hosaeus (06.05.1875 – 26.04.1958).

Both obverse and reverse of a medal were rimmed with a thin laurel wreath.

An obverse showed a diagonally-located war-torn banner and an inscription at the upper part: “To arms with an honor intact” (“Blank die Wehr – Rein die Ehr”) made in Gothic letters. Dates of the World War (1914-1918) were situated on the left while four lightning bolts – across the lower part of an obverse. Designer’s name in capital letters was struck at the bottom.

Center of a reverse had a citation of a national hero and honorary president of Kyffhäuserbund Field marshal Paul von Hindenburg taken from his Order of the day (Armeebefehl) of November 12, 1918: “With honor and dignity we leave the battlefield marked with our victories over hordes of enemies during more than four years. Hindenburg” (“Aufrecht u. Stolz gehen wir aus dem Kampfe den wir über vier Jahre gegen eine Welt von Feinden bestanden. Hindenburg”). That phrase running in nine rows in Gothic letters was bordered with two five pointed stars above and below. Two semicircular inscriptions, both in Gothic letters as well, were situated at the upper and the bottom parts of a reverse: “For loyalty during the World War” (“Für Treue im Weltkriege”) and “Kyffhäuser Union” (“Der Kyffhäuserbund”). Both legends were divided by vertical laurel branches.

Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes was worn either obverse or reverse outside depending on preference of its holder. It was worn on the left side of a jacket on a black 25 mm wide silk ribbon with thin red and white vertical stripes at its edges. Statute of the War Commemorative Medal prohibited it from being worn on a uniform though allowed its attachment to the medal bar.

Like all the other post-war Weimar-era badges, Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes was to be purchased by a veteran upon presentation of an award document. In 1927 it was worth 1,60 Marks for a full-size medal or 1 Mark for a miniauture.

Award documents bore facsimile of Paul von Hindenburg, who hold a post of a honorary president of Kyffhäuserbund since September 08, 1919, and that of Union’s president. Generaloberst Josias von Heeringen (09.03.1850-09.10.1926) was the first president of Kyffhäuserbund since November 27, 1918 and until his demise, followed by General der Artillerie Rudolf von Horn (09.07.1866-04.02.1934) and Generalleutnant a.D. Jakob Ritter von Danner (07.08.1865-28.12.1942).

An oval 31x47 mm medal weighed 15 g and was made of gilt bronze.

Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes was issued since December 1921 until April 1934. According to a Decree published on November 14, 1935 (Verordnung zur Ausführung des Gesetzes über Titel, Orden und Ehrenzeichen vom 14.November 1935) that put into effect a Supplement to the Law regarding state awards of April 07, 1933, wearing of a Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes was prohibited. The last known award document is dated April 10, 1934 and was issued by the Landesverband Württemberg und Hohenzollern.

Combatant badge (Frontkämpfer-Abzeichen)

A special distinction for former frontline soldiers (Frontkämpfer-Abzeichen) in the shape of a gilt device showing two crossed swords was introduced in 1922. That privately purchased device (worth 20 Pfennigs in 1927) could have been worn either attached to a ribbon or as a separate element between medal and its ribbon. It’s worth mentioning here that some veterans even preferred to wear Frontkämpfer-Abzeichen upside down thus mourning the war lost by Germany.

Battle clasps (Schlachtenspangen) 

Various battle clasps commemorating combat experience of frontline soldiers (Schlachtenspangen) were instituted according to advise of the Saxon Union of war veterans’ associations (Sächsischen-Militär-Vereins-Bundes). Those distinctions were privately purchased for 40 Pfennigs each upon presentation of a corresponding award document, the price of the latter being included to the amount mentioned above. A document (Besitz-Zeugnis) allowing veteran to purchase clasp(s) was signed by a head of a territorial association (Landes-Kriegerverband).

Claimants had to provide proof of their participation in particular battle, otherwise they had to take an oath in presence of members of the governing body justifying their combat experience.  

The maximum allowed number of battle clasps worn simultaneously was five.

Rectangular battle clasps were made of brass and measured 35x6 mm. 76 official clasps were instituted totally, 38 for the actions at the Western Front, 26 – at the Eastern Front, 6 – at the Southern Front and six for former aviators, marines and “overseas”, i.e. colonial troops.   

Western Front battle clasps (Schlachtenspangen für den Westen):

Aisne-Champagne / Avcre / Antwerpen-Ostende / Argonnen / Armentieres / Arras-Albert / Avre / Chambrai / Campagne / Dinant / Fere-Champenoise / Flandern und Artois / Juvinecourt / Kemmelberg / La Bassoe-Arras / Lille / Lorettohöhe / Lothringen / Maas-Aisne / Marne und Besle / Marne-Schlacht / Montdidier-Noyon / Mühlhausen / Nancy-Epinal / Oise / Perthes / Reims / Scarpe / Soissons-Reims / Soldau-Neidenberg / Somme-Schlacht / St.Quentin / Verdun / Vogesen / Vormarsch 1914 / Wytschaete / Ypern / Yser

Eastern Front battle clasps (Schlachtenspangen für den Osten):

Brest-Litowsk / Düna / Finnland / Kurland / Litauen / Liveland / Lodz / Masurische Seen / Narew / Narotschsee / Njemenschlacht / Nowo-Georiewsk / Ost-Galizien / Prjasnytz / Rawka / Sehreth / Smorgon / Stochod / Südpolen / Tannenberg / Tarnopol / Ukraine / Warschau / Wilna

Southern Front battle clasps (Schlachtenspangen für den Süden):

Isonzo / Mazedonien / Palästna / Piave / Rumänien / Serbien

Battle clasps for veterans of aviation, marine units and colonial troops (Schlachtenspangen für Luft-, Marine- und Überseetruppen):

Doggerbank / Luftkampf / Oesel / Skagerrak / Uebersee / U-Boot-Krieg / Kreuzer u. Minenkrieg

Summing up above mentioned clasps with 23 “unofficial” Schlachtenspangen makes us saying that nearly 100 battle clasps altogether could have been worn on a ribbon of Kriegsdenkmünze 1914/18 des Kyffhäuserbundes.

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Kyffhaeuser 1

 

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