100823 | GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN & the NETHERLANDS. Satirical cast iron Medal.

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    100823 | GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN & the NETHERLANDS. Satirical cast iron Medal. Issued 1916. Totentanz (Dance of Death) series: The King Stephen Incident (69mm, 81.90 g, 12h). By W. Eberbach.

     

    • U22 + L19 + ENGLAND • DAS • MASS • IST VOLL • (Submarine U22, Airship L19 + England = the cup is full), Death (as a skeleton), with back facing and clenching fist, rising from the seas slightly right; on horizon, a thunderstorm rages on English interests / Reichskriegsflagge (German imperial war flag) above EXORIARE / ALIQVIS • NOSTRIS / EX • OSSIBVS / VLTOR (an avenger of our dead shall arise). Edge: DS 176 51 and a few marks as made; otherwise plain.

     

    The Art of Devastation, p. 262, 58; Frankenhuis 1501. Gem Mint State. Dark charcoal gray surfaces, with some lighter highlights; a few light marks.

     

    Similar to the satirical medallic issues of Karl Goetz, Walther Eberbach was inspired by the events of World War I to create a series of rather morbid medals to propagandize the German war effort. The theme upon which he decided to focus was the Totentanz, or "Dance of Death." This series of issues, a divergence from the ephemeral topic of vanitas, portrayed Death as a skeleton, quite gleefully taking joy in the demise of his enemies—the allied powers—rather than a subtle reflection upon life and death. This frank morbidity is expressed by Eberbach himself in a letter to Julius Menadier, in which he writes "...I want whoever holds the pieces in their hands years later to be overcome by the shudder grimness." It's safe to say that, in this desire, Eberbach was astoundingly successful.

     

    Following a bombing campaign over England in February 1916, the L19 airship was blown off course on her return, flying over the Netherlands where she attracted anti-aircraft fire. The resulting damage sent her crashing into the North Sea, where her passengers—clinging to the wreckage—were encountered by a British fishing trawler, the King Stephen. The crew from the latter refused to help the former, leaving them in the sea where they eventually would drown. Eberbach alludes to the vengeance sought by the Germans for this blatant lack of help by the fishermen.

     

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