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Friedrich-Bathildis-Medaille

Friedrich-Bathildis Medal

Friedrich-Bathildis-Medaille was instituted by Friedrich von Waldeck-Pyrmont (Friedrich Adolf Hermann Prinz zu Waldeck und Pyrmont, 20.01.1865-26.05.1946), the last reigning Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, on December 24, 1915, the second Christmas of the Great War. It was awarded regardless of gender or social status to those who made notable contributions to charity activities, provided custody, care and rehabilitation to war victims.

Decoration of men was made in accordance with resolution of the Prince Friedrich, while women and maidens were awarded by his spouse, Princess Bathildis. However, in certain cases, e.g. in the absence of the monarch, men were also decorated by the Princess. Moreover, award documents signed Kamerherr Waldemar Joachim Alexander von Schoeler (28.02.1868-09.05.1945), head of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont, are known to exist as well.

The very first full-color sketches of the future decoration were elaborated by medalists from the Pforzheim-based Court jeweler company of Carl Friedrich Zimmermann (Firma Carl Friedrich Zimmermann). Having been presented to the monarch on October 08, 1915, they were, however, rejected. Well-known medalist professor Rudolf Mayer (12.06.1846-24.06.1916) was regarded as a perspective candidature for creation of a sketch, but he decided to decline the offer submitted to him on November 30, 1916 due to bad health and illness. As a result, Rudolf Kowarzik (13.03.1871-16.04.1940), prominent Austrian sculptor, medalist and engraver was charged with creation of a sketch. Kowarzik, who was at the time working as a professor at the School of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule) in Pforzheim, presented his sketches on December 10, 1915. They were subsequently approved by the Prince Friedrich, while sketches elaborated by two other pretenders, Adolf Schmid (15.07.1867-?) and Emil Bäuerle (08.01.1881-1952) were rejected.

Obverse of the medal without border showed busts of the Prince Friedrich (in the foreground) and the Princess Bathildis (in the background) facing left. Semi-circular inscription in capital letters “Friedrich Bathildis” was placed at the left, and abridgements “F.u.F.z.W.u.P.”, i.e. “Prince and Princess of Waldeck and Pyrmont” (“Fürst und Fürstin zu Waldeck und Pyrmont”) were situated at the right. Name of the engraver executed in capital letters between two dots was founded just below the neck of the Prince: “·RKowarzik·”.

Centre of the reverse without border showed horizontal inscription in five lines made in capital letters: “For Loyal Work in Iron Time 1915” (“·Für· treues· Wirken ·in· eiserner· Zeit ·1915·”). Inscription was encircled with decorative round wreath measuring 23 mm in diameter. It was made of two symmetrical semicircles, upper and lower portions of which had stylized miniature hearts inserted as symbols of kind-heartedness.

Actually, the very conception of the “Eiserne Zeit”, or “Iron Time” stood for the nation-wide campaign announced by the federal government that managed to realize by 1916 that the German Empire settled in for a longer and much costlier war than anyone imagined when the Great War broke out in 1914. It was then, by the way, that the government appealed to its loyal subjects to donate their gold jewelry to the war effort in exchange for iron items, e.g. rings, tokens, medallions and watch chains.

Altogether Carl Friedrich Zimmermann company manufactured and delivered to the Waldeck authorities 375 medals, fifty of which had no ribbons as production of huge number of ribbons required special authorization permit from the War Ministry that supervised usage of silk under conditions of resources deficiency.

Information on a total number of Friedrich-Bathildis Medals awarded varies depending on the source. Thus, it is said that during the whole period of existence of the Principality, 306 persons only were decorated with the medal: 140 men and 166 women and maidens (94 pieces bestowed in 1916, 101 in 1917 and 111 in 1918). Additional nine pieces were awarded on November 13, 1918, just after abolition of the monarchy in that tiny German state, and thus no official information on such decorations was published in governmental bulletins (Fürstlich Waldeckischen Regierungsblättern).   

According to Jörg Nimmergut, 313 medals were totally presented: 103 pieces in 1916, 99 in 1917, 111 in 1918. Altogether 141 men and 172 women were made recipients of the decoration. It is known that seven married couples were decorated with the Friedrich-Bathildis Medal.

The vast majority of female recipients of the medal were sisters of charity and nurses who worked in hospitals all over the Principality. Most male holders served as military doctors, stretcher bearers and base hospital doctors. Friedrich-Bathildis Medal was also awarded to diplomats of the German embassy in the neutral Switzerland who supervised conditions in which German POWs were held in Swiss camps.

The very first decoration ceremony took place on August 10, 1916, and ten persons were made holders of the new award, including Hermann Franz Karl Ludwig, Graf von Waldeck und Pyrmont (16.05.1864-26.09.1938) and Fraulein von Mauve, maid of honor of the Princess Bathildis. The last decoration, not to mention presentation dated November 13, 1918 referred to above, was held on September 25, 1918, and the medal was bestowed on Secretary Friedrich Wegener.

Friedrich-Bathildis Medal was worn suspended from the 36 mm wide red silk ribbon flanked by 3 mm wide vertical black and gold stripes, the latter having thin black edging. Female recipients wore medals on traditional women bows on left shoulder.

Cost of the medal manufactured by the Carl Friedrich Zimmermann company amounted to 2,25 Marks, that of the presentation case – to 1,25 Marks, and that of the ribbon – 1,80 Marks per meter.

Friedrich-Bathildis Medal was presented in a square wine red case containing medal without ribbon and separate piece of ribbon. Award document printed at the Kassel-based Firma Gebrüder Gotthelft was handed to the decorated person as well.

After demise of the holder decoration was kept by the closest relatives of the deceased as a token of remembrance and was not to be returned to issuing authorities.

Three variations of the portable Friedrich-Bathildis Medal are known to exist:

1. Light bronze medal measuring 38 mm in diameter, weighing 16,43 g and furnished with distinctive bow-shaped integral wide bar for ribbon suspension (21 mm long, 6 mm high and 3 mm thick). Interesting to know that such shape of an “eyelet” was picked out by the Prince Friedrich himself.

1. Light bronze medal measuring 38 mm in diameter, weighing 14,55 g and showing no designer’s name on obverse. Thin circular eyelet for suspension of the ring was soldered to the top of the medal perpendicular to its surface.

3. Medal measuring 38 mm in diameter and weighing 19,01 g manufactured of the so-called “Kriegsmetall”, i.e. low-quality zinc alloy, with light bronze finish. Wide circular eyelet for suspension of the ring was soldered to the top of the medal perpendicular to its surface. Those late-war decorations were produced in 1918 by the Berlin-based “Militär-Effekten und Orden-Fabrik Paul Meybauer” company and were offered for private purchase as replacement pieces or awards for wearing on medal bars. However, in some cases Friedrich-Bathildis Medals with original bow-shaped “eyelets” were worn on medal bars. 

Miniatures of the Friedrich-Bathildis-Medaille were manufactured by permission of the Prince Friedrich by two companies, Berlin-based A.Werner und Söhne (Berlin S.W. 68, Alexandrinenstraße 14) and Pforzheim-based Court jeweler company of Carl Friedrich Zimmermann.

Friedrich Bathildis Medal 1