Die goldene Ehrennadel der 3.Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld was instituted by the commander of that Volunteer unit (Freikorps) Korvettenkapitän Wilhelm Friedrich (Wilfried) Julius Hans Höffer von Loewenfeld (25.09.1879-05.07.1946). Though exact date of that event remains unknown, it is thought to be introduced after the nominal and virtual disbandment of the Freikorps (May 07 and May 31, 1920).
Anti-Bolshevik volunteer unit “3.Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld” was raised by the then Korvettenkapitän Wilfried von Loewenfeld in Kiel at the end of November 1918. What has been started as a modest unit of 400 former Kaiserliche Marine naval personnel at the beginning of the spring 1919, expanded to the mighty 6,000-strong combat-ready Brigade consisting of two regiments and independent battalion. Freikorps fought Bolshevik mutineers in Berlin, suppressed political strike of railroaders, took part in defeat of the First Silesian Uprising, protected borders of the German state from attacks of insurgents. After the failed Kapp-Lüttwitz Putsch, during which the Loewenfeld together with parts of Reichswehr and other conservative nationalist factions supported plotters, Brigade was transferred to the Ruhr region to fight Bolsheviks and restore order. It was 3rd Marine Brigade von Loewenfeld that liberated the city of Essen from the Ruhr Red Army detachments. Freikorps was subsequently redeployed to Sennelager where it was finally disbanded on May 07, 1920. 2,500 former fighters were conscripted into the Reichsmarine, 70 – into the police, and 60 – into the Provisional Reichswehr (Vorläufige Reichswehr).
During the Third Reich era dozens of ex-Freikorps officers from the 3rd Marine Brigade von Loewenfeld were promoted to prominent positions and high ranks within Kriegsmarine, Luftwaffe, Wehrmacht and SS. It’s worth mentioning here that one of the “official heroes” of the Third Reich, Leo Schlageter, was also a member of the Loewenfeld’s unit.
Come 1934, authorities of the town of Dorsten erected a monument commemorating fallen fighters of two Freikorps units commanded by Lichtschlag and von Loewenfeld. Initiative came from editor of the newspaper “Dorstener Volkszeitung” and SA officer Alfons van Bevern and was taken up by local NSDAP officials. Inscription on that memorial read: “To the Lichtschlag and Loewenfeld Volunteer Corps, February 1919 – March 1920. To our liberators from the Spartacist oppression. Into the second year of the Third Reich together with Adolf Hitler, 1934. Everything was in darkness, but came into light now, you stroke the first blow with the hammer!” (“Dem Freikorps Lichtschlag/Loewenfeld, Februar 1919 – März 1920. Unseren Befreiern aus Spartakistengewalt. Mit Adolf Hitler im zweiten Jahr des Dritten Reiches 1934. Euch war’s verhüllt, nun ist’s am Tag, Ihr schlugt den ersten Hammerschlag!”). Inscription on the monument was belonged to the local educationalist Dr.Joseph Wiedenhöfer. Bricks worth 10 Pfennig each were sold during fundraising functions organized by local SA, and altogether ca.15,000 pieces were used to erect the memorial. Interesting to know that Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg refused to make donation and informed Dorsten officials of his decision through the Staatssekretär in a letter dated May 18, 1934.
Inauguration of the Freikorps-Ehrenmal was held on June 24, 1934 and was witnessed by Hauptmann Otto Lichtschlag (1885-1961) wearing SS uniform, Generalmajor Hans Kloebe as an official representative of Vice-admiral Wilfried von Loewenfeld, former personnel of both units, as well as members of SA, SS, FAD, Reichswehr, Reichsmarine, Police and local NSDAP functionaries.
The ten-ton memorial was removed and thrown into the river by revengeful British soldiers who occupied Dorsten at the end of the WWII. However, it was retrieved afterwards and used as a monument to German POWs.
The exact award criteria for decoration with the Gold Honour Pin of the 3rd Marine Brigade von Loewenfeld remains unknown, but it was issued to all former Freikorps military personnel who “particularly distinguished themselves during hard times Germany experienced”.
Design of the cut-out Honour pin was based on the collar emblem worn by Freikorps personnel. It had a shape of the anchor with cable superimposed on a round wreath made of laurel branch on the left and oak branch on the right and twisted around by three ribbon stripes at each side. A ribbon bearing an inscription “V.[on] Loewenfeld Volunteer Corps” (“Freikorps v. Loewenfeld”) executed in capital letters and running in two lines was palced at the bottom of the badge.
Die goldene Ehrennadel der 3.Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld was manufactured by the Pforzheim-based company “B.H.Mayer’s Kunstprägeanstalt” of yellow-colored alloy. Both obverse and reverse were gilt.
Plain reverse of the pin bore maker’s mark executed in capital letters running in two horizontal lines: “B.H.Mayer Pforzheim”. “B.H.” initials stood for the late director of the company, Bernhard Heinrich Mayer (1843-1911), who founded it in 1871.
The author thanks Konstantin Nikolaev (Russia), a military historian, an author and a renowned expert on Freikorps decorations for providing photo of Die goldene Ehrennadel der 3.Marinebrigade von Loewenfeld as well as extract from his book “Decorations of German volunteer units” (2014).