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WWI German medal and document Ė But itís US militaria


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#1 Adam R

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 02:38 PM

The War Honor Cross (aka Hindenburg Cross) was established in 1934 and was awarded to members of the German military who served during WWI. The version with swords was for front line troops. It was also give without swords to military non-combatants. Over 6 million of the combatant type were issued, making it a very common medal for collectors. (About equal to the US National Defense Medal.) The award certificate is somewhat less common but they’re still not very valuable. There are also many variations in design and format, depending upon where and when it was issued. The last awards were made in 1944.

 

The certificate shown here is quite unusual and I believe it can legitimately be considered “US militaria”. It was issued by the German consulate in New York to a recipient in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. At the time it was issued, 1936, the recipient was a US citizen.

 

Online research shows that the recipient, Kurt Patsch, was born in Germany in October, 1899, so he probably entered the service no earlier than 1917. Unfortunately I don’t have any specific service details other than his rank, Arbeiter, which translates as laborer or worker. He emigrated from Germany to the US in 1922. In April, 1928 he was naturalized as a US citizen while living in Johnstown. He continued to live there until his death in 1976.

 

So, a German medal and document, but issued in the United States to a US citizen. Is it US militaria or not?

 

(I’ve never seen another example of one of this document that was issued in the US, however an advanced collector of Imperial German medals to me that he’s seen one or two others. But he still considered it a very rare and unusual document.)

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Edited by Adam R, 12 November 2015 - 02:40 PM.


#2 KurtA

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 02:46 PM

That is really cool!  Would have been great had he been drafted into the US Army for service in WW2 and wore that ribbon on his uniform.  Could just see the D.I. looking at his uniform and asking "what ribbon is that, private?"



#3 ÷STA

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 03:51 PM

Never seen one of those before. What a great find.  I have quite a few certificates for all three versions of this medal including one issued from the German Embassy in Tokyo. What a wonderful piece of history you have there.



#4 Wharfmaster

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 04:27 PM

 The medal was awarded by a foreign nation for service with a belligerent nation as a member of that nation. 

 

 

 

W



#5 Garth Thompson

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:02 PM

Since he was a naturalized US citizen (1928) prior to award of the medal (1936) I think this is a legitimate posting for this forum.



#6 Longbranch

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:22 PM

Personally, I think it's still "foreign militaria". 

 

It was awarded by Germany, via the German consulate in New York, to a member of the German military, for service with Germany in WW1, when he was a German citizen. This individual never served in the U.S. military. It is certainly interesting, but not U.S. militaria... 



#7 KurtA

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:43 PM

The item has the words "New York", "Johnstown", and "Pennsylvania" on it. It's U.S.



#8 Longbranch

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:49 PM

The item has the words "New York", "Johnstown", and "Pennsylvania" on it. It's U.S.

 

Right. So all of the U.S. unit histories printed up in Germany (and clearly say something like "Printed in Berlin, Germany") after WW2 are actually German militaria?

 

This is a foreign award given to a former member of the German military for service with the German military. This individual appears to have no connection to the U.S. military, other than possibly fighting against the U.S. military in WW1. 

 

I'd be curious to hear what the definition would be for "U.S. Militaria" if this item qualifies?

 

Again, I think it's an awesome piece and incredibly interesting. Just more suited to the WAF than USMF. If he served in the U.S. Army at some point, I'd say otherwise. But his only service was with Germany, and this is a German award, written in German, for WW1 German vets...


Edited by Longbranch, 12 November 2015 - 05:58 PM.


#9 tarbridge

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Posted 12 November 2015 - 05:59 PM

AMERICANS IN FOREIGN SERVICE
For militaria of Americans who served with (or in) Foreign armies and formations

We are discussing this now.
Moving to this section.

Edited by tarbridge, 12 November 2015 - 06:01 PM.


#10 Adam R

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 09:21 AM

Gentlemen, thank you for your input (from both sides of the fence). I was hoping that this item would be of interest and generate some discussion (with differing points of view). It seems to have done that.

 

KurtA bring up an interesting point. What if Patsch joined the US Armed Forces during WWII? What would be the status of this award? I'm guessing that a regulation would have prohibited wearing the medal or ribbon on US uniform but I don't know which specific regulation. Does anyone know which one?



#11 Wharfmaster

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 11:22 AM

The US Constitution prohibits accepting and wearing foreign decorations. Since WW1, the Congress gives special permission to accept and wear foreign decorations for specific periods from friendly-allied governments.

 

 

 

Wharf



#12 unclegrumpy

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 01:04 PM

KurtA bring up an interesting point. What if Patsch joined the US Armed Forces during WWII? What would be the status of this award? I'm guessing that a regulation would have prohibited wearing the medal or ribbon on US uniform but I don't know which specific regulation. Does anyone know which one?

I don't know the regulation. However, my Grandfather was in an ETO Signal Intelligence unit that had a Master Sergeant that had been a Sergeant in the German Army in WW I.  He got the Iron Cross and a Wound badge in the Great War...yes, I asked my Grandfather if he remembered the specific versions of each, but he did not.

 

Anyway, the reason my Grandfather brought the story of the German awards up, were they were part of a longstanding joke in his unit when it came to several directives for everyone to wear "all of your awards", both US & Foreign, for a number of different parades or inspections.  He said everyone, but the Master Sergeant, thought it would be funny as hell to see what would have happened!



#13 TheMariner

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 05:40 PM

Im guessing this would have went over like a fart in church if he tried to wear that on his uniform in WW2. Veterans of WW1 still serving in WW2 would certainly not have taken that to kindly nor would americans who had heard stories from there father about WW1. Im guessing he would have been pegged a german sympathizer possibly even a spy and would not have been treated well probably would have been jumped on a number of occasions.  



#14 unclegrumpy

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 06:09 PM

Im guessing he would have been pegged a german sympathizer possibly even a spy and would not have been treated well probably would have been jumped on a number of occasions.  

Interestingly, what the unit was mostly doing, was listening in on German communication lines.  This Master Sergeant was one of the key intel guys, and on a number of occasions my Grandfather said, barked out orders like the German Army Sergeant he once was, to whom ever was on the other end of the line.  A couple of times he said this saved them, because they were often at or somewhat beyond our lines.  

 

This Master Sergeant's problem was not with the American Army, but with the German one if they were ever captured....and they nearly were several times...both in the Normandy countryside and later in the Ardennes.



#15 brad k

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Posted 28 November 2015 - 11:50 PM

Im guessing this would have went over like a fart in church if he tried to wear that on his uniform in WW2. Veterans of WW1 still serving in WW2 would certainly not have taken that to kindly nor would americans who had heard stories from there father about WW1. Im guessing he would have been pegged a german sympathizer possibly even a spy and would not have been treated well probably would have been jumped on a number of occasions.  

my father told me about a ww2 german soldier in his unit in about 1950 that came to formation with overseas stripes on his uniform, he was told right off to remove them!



#16 Brig

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 07:43 AM

A member on another forum told me about a Marine in his unit in the 50's or 60's (believe he was a Gunny or 1stSgt at the time) who had served in Russia with the Wehrmacht in WWII. Of course, the nickname 'Adolf' was thrown around behind his back.

 

I have always found US awards on post-war German bars of WWII vets interesting, this is just the opposite, and a very interesting topic and perhaps the most interesting Hindenburg Cross I've seen



#17 unclegrumpy

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 12:10 PM

After thinking about this, I think what actually needs to be brought to light, is the list of authorized foreign awards.  "Authorized" is the key word here, because I bet the regulation will essentially say a soldier is supposed to wear whatever they are specifically authorized to wear.



#18 Brig

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 12:13 PM

It's my understanding, that for a foreign award to be worn by a US service member, the initial presentation must be made by the awarding nation, and it must be an award that that own nation's soldiers are eligible to receive. These seem to be the 2 pick reasons why the Iraqi Commitment Medal was never approved



#19 earlymb

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 12:20 PM

Not directly related to the item in this topic, but this is a very interesting story nonetheless... :)

 

https://www.warhisto...ught-in-ss.html


Edited by earlymb, 29 November 2015 - 12:23 PM.


#20 JBFloyd

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Posted 29 November 2015 - 01:56 PM

For the Army, AR-600-8-22, Table E-1, lists those current foreign awards that can be accepted and worn by Army personnel. Anything not on the list requires the approval of the Army Human Resources Command.  Until quite recently, all foreign awards given outside of periods of "blanket authority" (i.e., wartime) had to be turned over to the State Department, which would periodically ask Congress for approval to accept and wear on behalf of the recipients.  

 

I don't know what the statutory basis is for the change in policy which was based on the constitutional prohibition of "foreign titles and emoluments".  If anyone does know the chapter and verse approving the change, I'd be interested to know about it.

 

In periods of war, the services were given legal authorization by Congress to allow service members to accept and wear decorations and select campaign medals (e.g., the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal) from allied nations. The main condition was that the award had to be available to the awarding nation's personnel. This condition carries over into the current regulation. For example, the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross is only awarded to non-Brazilians, so it is not on the approved list, while the Order of Military Merit, which is awarded to Brazilian personnel, is approved.

 

In the case under discussion, it is unlikely that the Army would have approved the wear of the Hindenburg Cross on the US uniform, if only because it was not awarded by an allied nation, nor was it a decoration.  But, stranger things have happened.  I know of a situation where a recipient of a foreign award went through the approval process and was granted permission to wear it, only to be told by a senior officer to take it off and not wear it again.  The award went in a drawer.



#21 Adam R

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Posted 07 September 2016 - 11:56 AM

Here's another example that I found online. (I believe the photo credit should go to Fred Borgmann.) Note the Chicago consulate stamp.

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