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Which of these medals is the inferior and which is the superior?

Article about: I am getting close to completing a collection of the medals that were given to the crew of the cargo U-boat Deutschland and the civilian members of the German's cargo U-boat project. The que

  1. #1

    Default Which of these medals is the inferior and which is the superior?

    I am getting close to completing a collection of the medals that were given to the crew of the cargo U-boat Deutschland and the civilian members of the German's cargo U-boat project. The questions I have concern the medallions that the enlisted crewmen received. In anticipation of the boat's arrival in Bremen, the Germans planned a lavish reception that included awards for everyone involved in the project. Initially, as of 3 August 1916, the enlisted crewmen were to receive the Preussen Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen (Prussian General Honor Award) in bronze and in silver. This medal was selected because it was a civilian award and the Germans were continuing the pretense that the U-Deutschland was a civilian capital venture. The petty officers were to receive the silver medal and the lower ranks the bronze medal. But, by the time the boat reached Bremen on 24 August, the enlisted awards had been changed to the Preussen Rote Adlerorden Medaille (Prussian Red Eagle Order medallion), which was awarded to military enlisted men and some civilians. So here are the questions.
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    1. Am I correct that the silver Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen is superior to the bronze award?

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    2. The Rote Adlerorden Medaille came in silver and gilding. Am I correct that the gilded award was a higher rank than the silver version?

    I ask because one of the enlisted crewmen, Mechaniker Leopold Schwartzschild, who was twenty years old and one of the four lowest ranks in the engine room crew, received the gilded medal, but I had assumed that the gilded medal would be the higher award and would go to the petty officers while the enlisted men would receive the silver version. His grandson has the medal and described it to me. So, it seems to me, either the entire enlisted crew received the gilded medal regardless of length of service and/or rank, or the gilded medal was inferior to the silver version. Both possibilities would explain why young Schwartzschild received the gilded medal rather than the silver version. Your opinions and expertise will be greatly appreciated. Dwight

  2. #2

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    Quote by drmessimer View Post
    1. Am I correct that the silver Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen is superior to the bronze award?
    Yes.

    The Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen in Bronze [General decoration in Bronze] was instituted in 1912 and bestowed for merit not sufficient for an award of the silver grade, i.e. the II. Klasse [2nd Class] of the Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen.
    (The first class was originally a gold medal; but this had already been replaced by a cross in 1814.)

    Sources:
    Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen Bronze 1912
    Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen 2.Klasse 1814


    Quote by drmessimer View Post
    2. The Rote Adlerorden Medaille came in silver and gilding. Am I correct that the gilded award was a higher rank than the silver version?
    No.

    The medal was initially silver. In 1908, Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the medal to be of the same metal (or of the same color) as the Kronenorden-Medaille [Medal of the Order of the Crown], which was gold.
    Thus, the RAO medal changed its color from silver to gold. A recently-made batch of 137 silver medals was gold-plated. Later medals were also made of gold-plated copper and, from 1916 on, of gold-plated zinc.

    Sources:
    Die Medaille des Kniglichen Roten Adler Orden
    Roter Adler Orden Medaille 3. Form 1908

  3. #3

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    Andreas: Thanks for that quick reply and for clearing up a real bit of confusion. So, in 1916 there was no silver version of the Rote Adlerorden Medaille. And that means the entire enlisted crew received the gold medallion. Thank you for that and the provided link. You have made my collecting life much easier. Dwight

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