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Der Deutschen Stolz [The Pride of Germany]

Date: 1914
Overall: 3 x 32 mm
Display Dimensions: 33 x 3 x 33 mm
Medium: Silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Medallion
Object No: 00005563

User Terms

    This medal was struck by the Lauer company of Nuremberg, Germany. It honours the German Imperial Navy's light cruiser EMDEN that was wrecked off the Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean after an engagement with HMAS SYDNEY (I) on 9 November 1914. The inscription roughly translates as 'The Pride of Germany, the terror of our foes SMS EMDEN'. This medal was struck after the vessel was wrecked as it is bordered with an Iron Cross First Class, which was awarded to the ship itself by Kaiser Wilhelm II following its destruction.
    SignificanceThis medal is significant as an example of a medal awarded for courage and represents the pride of the Germans in the EMDEN engagement.
    HistoryLauer, a German company based in Nuremberg, manufactured miniature imitation currency, toy coins, medals and various tokens between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. It began as a family company that, over the years, involved Johann Jakob Lauer (1806- 1852 or 1865), Ernest Ludwig Lauer (1783-1833) and, most notably, Ludwig Christian Lauer (1842-1873). Their catalogue was extensive, ranging from a series of counters with Greek and Roman themes, to architectural medals struck for the world's fair, to badges for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

    The Lauer firm is believed to have remained in family hands from 1783 until 1906 when ownership passed to the Rockstoh family. After this the firm largely concentrated on producing medals, badges and electroplated ornaments and components. Lauer is still in existence today as a manufacturer of grills for radios in automobiles.

    EMDEN was one of only two naval vessels to be bestowed with this award by Kaiser Wilhelm II during World War I (the other being the submarine U-9). The result of this has been that all four of the subsequent EMDENs that have been commissioned by the German Navy have carried large symbols of the Iron Cross on their bows or forecastles.

    SMS EMDEN was a German light cruiser, launched on 26 May 1908, and commissioned into the German Imperial Navy on 10 July 1909. As a light cruiser it was designed to disrupt merchant shipping. It was armed with ten 4.1" guns and was the last German cruiser to be equipped with reciprocating engines (subsequent vessels were equipped with steam turbines).

    On 31 July 1914 EMDEN left Tsingtao (a German colony between 1898 and 1914 that is now known as Qingdao and is a part in Shandong Province, China). It was at sea when war was announced on 2 August 1914. It was under the command of Lieutenant Commander Karl von Müller who spent most of his time on the bridge. Comfortable chairs were placed there for him to sleep and rest in between action and emergencies. He maintained a constant state of readiness aboard his ship, adding extra lookouts after dark and ordering gun and torpedo crews to be stationed at their posts around the clock. Also on board was the Kaiser's nephew, Prinz Franz Joseph of Hohenzollern, as second torpedo officer.

    EMDEN was deployed to the Indian Ocean to disrupt shipping. On 10 September 1914 the first prize was captured, the Greek steamer PONTOPOROS. Though an officially neutral ship, PONTOPOROS was ferrying Allied coal supplies to India. Von Müller persuaded the Greek captain that German money was just as good as British and that he should now consider himself under charter to the German government. The PONTOPOROS, together with EMDEN's stalwart collier the MARKOMANNIA, would stay in regular contact with EMDEN until 12 October 1914 when the former ship was captured and the latter sunk by HMS YARMOUTH.

    Although its fighting career was relatively short-lived, the EMDEN quickly built up a fearsome reputation in the Indian Ocean's shipping lanes. The ship was disguised by fashioning a false funnel out of sail-cloth canvas and bamboo stakes that was capable of spewing chemically-produced smoke when necessary. Whereas the German cruiser only had three funnels, British cruisers had four and the EMDEN was now able to pass itself off as the YARMOUTH, which was also known to be in the area. It was a ruse that proved effective. On 10 September 1914, the 4,000 ton passenger-cargo ship INDUS was captured and sunk en route from Calcutta to Bombay; the 6,000 ton LOVAT suffered the same fate not long after.

    The EMDEN successfully captured and/or sank more than 20 ships during its wartime service. The crew often had the luxury of enjoying many of the spoils of their raids and the prisoners they took were treated well and usually set free. By late September there were known to be seven British ships, three Japanese vessels and a Russian cruiser combing the Indian Ocean in search of the EMDEN.

    In October 1914, HMAS SYDNEY formed part of the escort for the first ANZAC convoy. This convoy of 38 transports carrying 20,000 men and 7,500 horses was escorted by SYDNEY, MELBOURNE, the British armoured cruiser HMS MINOTAUR and the Japanese battlecruiser IBUKI. The convoy left Albany, Western Australia on 1 November 1914.

    At 0620 on 9 November, wireless operators in several transports and in the warships picked up signals in an unknown code, followed by a query from the Cocos Island Wireless Station asking 'What is that code?'. It was the German cruiser SMS EMDEN, ordering her collier BURESK to join her at Point (sometimes called Port) Refuge (part of the Cocos Island Group). After some debate between the vessels over which of the escorts should be dispatched, it was decided that SYDNEY, as the warship nearest to Cocos, should be sent. Detaching itself from the convoy at 0700 SYDNEY was able to exceed her designed speed, arriving at Cocos at 0915 and spotting EMDEN some seven or eight miles distant. At a range of 10,500 yards, EMDEN opened fire and SYDNEY was soon under heavy fire. SYDNEY was, however, faster and better armed than her German opponent and by 1115 EMDEN lay wrecked on North Keeling Island, although it continued to resist. SYDNEY then left the scene to pursue the BURESK and, having forced the collier to be scuttled by its crew, returned at 1300 to secure EMDEN's surrender. Four members of SYDNEY's crew were killed, whilst twelve were wounded.

    Von Müller had run EMDEN aground on North Keeling Island in a bid to save his crew members who were still alive. Captain Glossop estimated that SYDNEY had scored around a hundred hits on the EMDEN by the time it ran aground. 134 of the EMDEN's crew were killed in the battle. Some of the German survivors were sent to Australian POW camps but the majority, including Müller, were imprisoned on Malta.

    EMDEN, wrecked but still somewhat intact, was left to disintegrate on North Keeling Island. Remnants of the ship still lie beneath the waters.
    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Captain von Mueller and SMS EMDEN

    Web title: Der Deutschen Stolz [The Pride of Germany]

    Related People
    Maker: Lauer

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