Hermann Ahlwardt Electoral Campaign Token

Hermann Ahlwardt Electoral Campaign Token 2

German political events and social conditions of XIX and XX centuries produced a rich array of exonumia and this article deals with a quite rare token of an undisputable artistic quality. This propaganda piece was minted and distributed in 1892 during electoral campaign of Dr.Hermann Ahlwardt (21.12.1846-16.04.1914), anti-Semitic Prussian politician who contested 1892 German by-elections for the first time.

Trained as a teacher, Hermann Ahlwardt filled positions of Volksschule (combined primary and lower secondary compulsory education institution) tutor in Neuruppin and, in 1969-1870, in Berlin. During the Franco-Prussian War (July 19, 1870 – May 10, 1871) Musketier Ahlwardt fought within 3.Brandenburgisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr.20 in the victorious battles of Metz, Orléans and Le Mans. In 1881 he was appointed rector, i.e. school principal in Berlin. Since the middle of 1880s Dr.Ahlwardt has been engaged in political activities, but having been unable to achieve his ambitions within the German Conservative Party (Deutschkonservative Partei), joined hard-core Anti-Semitic establishment where he began propagating a vicious brand of anti-Semitism which included sensational claims in 1892 that the Ludwig Loewe gun factory was supplying the military with faulty rifles as part of a Judeo-French conspiracy.

In a short time he has gained a reputation as a powerful public lecturer and caustic journalist among like-minded companions. Come 1892, he was nominated as a representative for the Reichstag by-elections from the town of Arnswalde (administrative district Frankfurt an der Oder, province of Brandenburg) and was elected on December 05, 1892 on a wave of Anti-Semitic sentiments that reigned amongst conservative petit bourgeoisie in Brandenburg and Pomerania. Despite undisputable notoriety, parliamentary carrier of Dr.Ahlwardt had been quite lengthy: having gained a loyal following in conservative quarters after initial success of 1892 by-elections, he was twice elected a deputy of Reichstag for Arnswalde on June 15, 1893 and June 16, 1898.

After short-term membership with the German Social Reform Party (Deutschsozialen Reformpartei), from which he had been expelled in 1895 largely on account of his very extreme brand of anti-Semitism, Ahlwardt together with like-minded politician Otto Böckel (02.07.1859-17.09.1923) restored Anti-Semitic People’s Party (Antisemitische Volkspartei) dissolved in 1893. In 1895 Dr.Hermann Ahlwardt visited the United States of America with the view of starting an anti-Semitic agitation there, but although he remained in the country about a year and gave five lectures in New York City, he failed in his object.

Dr.Hermann Ahlwardt departed from the Prussian political arena in the early years of the XX century having lost German federal elections that were held on 13 June 1903. Since then he edited several newspapers including the "Bundschuh", but neither his journalistic nor his commercial enterprises were successful. At last he earned his living running a cigar shop.

Design of the propaganda token in question was elaborated by the sculptor and medalist Hans Zeissig (24.08.1863-29.05.1944).

Obverse with wide border made of multiple raised dents showed image of the medieval armoured knight fighting fire-spitting dragon with his sword, mountain and cave situating in the background. Upper part of the obverse bore semi-circular inscription “Fighting Judas Is of the Utmost Importance” (“Der ernste Kampf gilt Judas Macht”) in Gothic lettering.

Reverse with wide border made of multiple raised dents showed large hardwood tree with spreading crown and massive roots flanked with a church (on the left) and shining cross on the hill (on the right). Upper part bore legend “Remember That You Are German” (“Gedenke daß du ein Deutscher bist”) running in semi-circle and executed in Gothic lettering. Initials of the medalist, “H.Z.”, were minted at the roots of the tree, while year of mintage, “1892” in Gothic numerals, was situated at the bottom.

Token measuring 36 mm in diameter and weighing 15 g was manufactured of silvered bronze.

Hermann Ahlwardt Electoral Campaign Token 1