Home:  Badges and Medals: WW1 LUSITANIA REPLICA MEDALS, 1915


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The facsimile of the newspaper reads:

"A German Naval Victory, with joyful pride we contemplate this latest deed of our Navy. Kolnische Volkszeitung, 10th May 1915. This Medal has been struck in Germany with the object of keeping alive in German hearts the recollection of the glorious achievement of the German Navy in deliberately destroying an unarmed passenger ship, together with 1,198 non combatants, men women and children".

On the obverse, under the legend ''No contraband'' (Keine Bannware), there is a representation of the Lusitania sinking. The designer has put in guns and aeroplanes, which (as certified by the United States Government officials after inspection) the Lusitania did not carry; but has conveniently omitted to put in the women and children, which the world knows she did carry.

On the reverse, under the legend ''Business above all'' (Geschaft uber alles), the figure of Death sits at the booking office of the Cunard Line and gives out tickets to passengers, who refuse to attend to the warning against submarines given by the Germans.
This picture seeks apparently to propound the theory that if a murderer warns his victim of his intention, the guilt of the crime will rest with the victim, not the murderer.
The designer of the medals was originally a German called Karl Gotz. The Kaiser himself condemned the sinking and ordered that no more unresisting merchant ships and passenger liners were to be sunk without prior warning.

Later Germany was embarrassed by reports in the foreign press of a German medal celebrating the sinking (above) . It was revealed that the Munich metal worker had cast about 100 medals. Gotz explained that he was a satirist and the medals were purely allegorical, and was not celebrating the sinking but condemning the Cynicism of Cunard in enticing innocent people on board an armed ship carrying contraband. (The date on the medal is 5th May which Gotz admitted was a mistake he later corrected)the distribution of the medal was halted but all to late, the propaganda weapon had already been fired.

Your comments:

  • I note with interest NO mention of the estimated FOUR MILLION rounds of military issue .303 ammunition, stowed in the cargo hold marked cheese, butter and oysters! Ammunition that was to be used to kill German soldiers on the battlefield. I guess history is written by the victors.... In this day and age and with all the information readily available, I would have expected more than just the WW1 British propaganda account.
    .......... David Riley, Ballarat, 28th of June 2014

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