Commemorative War Medal

Kriegsdenkmünze, more commonly known nowadays and referred to as “Kriegsdenkmünze 1814/1815”, was instituted on October 28, 1816 by Emil Leopold August, Herzog von Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg (23.11.1772-27.05.1822). His Order was gazetted by the Ducal Military Board (Herzogliche Kriegscollegium) report of December 23, 1816 published by the local bulletin “Gnädigst privilegirtes Altenburgisches Intelligenzblatt” in its issue No.53 on December 31, 1816.

Kriegsdenkmünze was awarded to officers, NCOs and lower ranks who were subjects of the Duchy and participated in the battles of the Wars of Liberation (1814-1815). Those proved guilty of desertion or committing criminal offense were deprived of decoration with the medal.

According to the statute of the decoration, “It is therefore requested that those men still employed with the above mentioned federal troops, or those still in military service and remaining in the Duchy of  Altenburg, acknowledge receipt of the medal granted to them from the commemorated February 01 [1817]:

1) Those on reserve status of the Ducal line regiments from the captains [i.e. commanders] under whose company command they stand, those who have left military service, in so much as they have a claim, on production of their discharge papers to captain (Capitän) Förster in Altenburg.

2) The mounted and dismounted volunteers (Freiwilligen zu Pferd und zu Fuß), as well as the men of the paid Landwehr-Battalions on production of the likewise discharge papers to the War Commissioner (Kriegscommissär) Hempel in Altenburg”.

After the demise of a veteran, the medal had to be returned to the Ducal War Commissariat in Altenburg on February 01 of the following year at the latest.

Centre of an obverse with raised border showed Ducal crown circumscribed “Fighting for the Just Cause” (“Im Kampfe fver [i.e. “für”] das Recht”) in capital letters in old German orthography. Words were separated with dots, while two dots were situated at the bottom.

Centre of a reverse with raised border showed traditional pentapetalous rose of the Duchy surrounded with round ornament pattern.

Edge of the Kriegsdenkmünze was inscribed in capital letters according to the old German orthography “Duchy of Gotha and Altenburg 1814 1815” (“* Herzogth. • Gotha • vnd • Altenbvrg • MDCCCXIV * MDCCCXV * •”). Small five-point stars were minted before inscription and after each date.

Circular medal measuring 42,2 mm in diameter (58 mm in height with an eyelet) and weighing either ca. 40,3 g without ribbon or 40,8 g with ribbon was minted of bronze in the defeated Paris.

Kriegsdenkmünze was worn on the left side of a tunic suspended from a silk green ribbon with two thin vertical stripes at edges made of short alternating horizontal black and golden stripes.

Four variants of the Kriegsdenkmünze were minted.

1. Commemorative War Medal for officers and those in officers’ ranks (Kriegsdenkmünze für Offiziere) with entirely gilt surface of obverse, reverse and edge. Totally 86 pieces were manufactured.

2. Miniature of the Commemorative War Medal for officers (Miniatur der Kriegsdenkmünze für Offiziere) measuring 32 mm in diameter with entirely gilt surface.

3. Commemorative War Medal for NCOs (Kriegsdenkmünze für Unteroffiziere) with lacquered surface of both obverse and reverse and hot gilding of all raised elements. Totally 223 decorations of this type were awarded. Ribbon of the Kriegsdenkmünze für Unteroffiziere was sometimes decorated with clasp made of gilt bronze. It had a shape of the horizontal rectangular frame measuring 19 mm in height and 48,5 mm in width. Circular medallion bearing Ducal crown was superimposed on its centre.  

4. Commemorative War Medal for lower ranks (Kriegsdenkmünze für Mannschaften). According to Jörg Nimmergut, only inscription on obverse was gilt, while period sources state that Kriegsdenkmünze für Mannschaften had bronze colour without any gilding. 

Sachsen-Gotha-Altenburg Kriegsdenkmunze 1