You searched for:

Showing item of from your search. start over back to results

WWI Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with Swords and fitted box awarded to a German Jewish veteran

Date 1916 November  (issue)
Accession Number 2010.458.2 a-c
Language German
Latin
Geography issue : Germany
manufacture : Munich (Germany)
Brief Narrative Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with Swords and fitted case of issue awarded to Maier Firnbacher in 1916 for bravery while serving in the German Army during World War I. Maier was a cattle trader in Straubing, Germany, when Hitler came to power in 1933. Jews were forbidden to practice certain professions and, in 1936, Maier's trading license was revoked. In 1938, he was forced to sell his farmland at a loss to a non-Jew. He got immigration visas for the United States for himself, his wife, Ida, and their 8 year old son, Manfred, then was arrested during Kristallnacht on November 10. He was released after three weeks in Dachau concentration camp. The family sailed from Rotterdam, Netherlands, on January 28, 1939 and settled near Washington, DC.
Provenance The WWI Merit Cross medal was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2010 by Fred Firnbacher, the son of Maier Firnbacher.
Classification Military Insignia
Category Medals
Object Type Medals, German (lcsh)
Dimensions a : 2.375 x 1.750 x 0.250 in. (6.032 x 4.445 x 0.635 cm.)
b : 0.500 x 2.375 x 3.875 in. (1.27 x 6.032 x 9.843 cm.)
c : 0.500 x 2.375 x 3.500 in. (1.27 x 6.032 x 8.89 cm.)
Markings a. front, embossed : L
a. front, embossed : MERENTI [Deserving]
a. reverse, embossed : 1866
c. top, pressed, silver paint : Bayr.M.V.Kr. / 3.Kl. [abbreviation for: Bayern. Militär-Verdienstkreuz, III. Klasse mit Schwertern [Bavaria. Military Cross, III. Class with Swords]
c. interior, stamped : WEISS & Co. / Ordenfabrik / München / Herrnstr. 44a
Materials a : metal
b : wood, paper, cloth, metal
c : wood, paper, cloth, metal
Topical Term Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Straubing--Personal narratives.
Jewish refugees--United States--Biography.
Jews--Persecutions--Germany--Biography.
World War, 1914-1918--Participation, Jewish.
World War, 1939-1945--Refugees--United States.
Conditions on Access No restrictions on access
Conditions on Use No restrictions on use
Contributor Subject : Fred Firnbacher
Subject : Maier Firnbacher
Manufacturer : Weiss & Co.
Biography

Manfred Firnbacher was born on May 19, 1930, in Regensburg, Germany, the only child of Ida and Maier Luchs Firnbacher. Maier was born on December 23, 1892, in Gossmannsdorf to Bertha and Joseph Firnbacher. He had four brothers and four sisters, one named Betty. Ida was born in 1903 in Buttenweisen to Amalie and Siegmund Luchs. She had one brother and one sister, Hertha. Maier served in the German Army during World War I (1914-1918). The family lived in Straubing, where Maier worked with his father as a cattle and horse dealer. The Firnbachers had one of the largest cattle businesses in Bavaria. They were an affluent, Orthodox Jewish family. In 1934, Ida’s father passed away and her mother came to live with the family. Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933 led to increasingly severe restrictions on Jews. Jewish businesses were boycotted and Maier’s cattle business declined. In 1936, Manfred attended the first grade at a Protestant school, where he was one of only two Jewish students. He was expelled because he hit an older non-Jewish child with a horsewhip after the child hit and bullied him. He returned after six weeks, but by 1937, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend school. Maier, Ida, and the other parents asked an older Jewish man who led services at the synagogue and had been a schoolteacher to teach the children. They were taught in one room in the synagogue. Maier and Ida told Manfred to be careful when going out on the street and not to mingle too much with other kids. They had some non-Jewish friends, but as time went on they were only friendly with the Jewish people in town. Manfred frequently saw SS and SA men walking on the streets. In November 1936, Maier was forbidden from entering the Regensburg slaughterhouse in an effort to force him out of business. In November 1937, he was arrested for five days by Nazi officials while trading in the Regensburg cattle market. In 1938, the German authorities refused to issue a cattle dealing license to him because he was Jewish. He was forced to sell farmland he owned in Straubing at a loss to a non-Jew, and eventually lost his business. Manfred remembered the door of his schoolroom being kicked open by a German storm trooper one day in March 1938, and class was dismissed. After he was home, he saw German troops going through the city in truckloads and to the railroad station for trains for the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany, as the family lived near the border. Maier applied for immigration visas to the United States, with sponsorship from members of the Luchs family who lived in Washington, DC. By July 1938, they were on the waiting list for visas. In October 1938, Manfred saw hundreds of tanks going through downtown Straubing heading for Czechoslovakia for the annexation of the Sudetenland. On November 9-10, 1938, during Kristallnacht, the synagogue was ransacked. People tried to break into the family’s home, but a neighbor yelled out of his window to leave them alone. The next morning, Manfred was upstairs when Maier was arrested by the Gestapo. Manfred remembered being terrified. Ida brought warm clothes for Maier to the police station, where a sympathetic officer passed them on to him. After three days, Maier was sent to Dachau concentration camp. Ida took the train to Regensburg to ask the Gestapo to release him after she heard someone else had done the same and her husband had been released. In early December 1938, Maier returned home. On January 6, 1939, the family had their meeting with the American consulate in Stuttgart, but an incorrect date was found on one of their papers. Maier went back to Straubing to have the date changed. After their papers were finalized, the family left on the next train for Holland. Manfred spit out of the window when they crossed the border from Germany to Holland. They arrived on January 11, 1939, and stayed with Ida’s brother, her sister, Hertha, and her nephew, Hansje, who had emigrated earlier. On January 28, 1939, Maier, Ida, and Manfred sailed from Rotterdam on the Volendam for New York. They arrived on February 7, and settled near Washington, DC. Ida corresponded through the Red Cross with her mother, Amalie, who moved to Holland in summer 1939 to live with Hertha and Hansje. Ida’s brother had passed away shortly after the family left for the US. The family later found out that Hertha and Hansje were deported to Westerbork transit camp on August 26, 1942, and then to Auschwitz concentration camp, where they were killed on September 3, 1942. Amalie was deported to Westerbork in spring 1943, and then to Sobibor concentration camp, where she was killed. Maier’s mother, Bertha, was deported in 1942 to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, where she died in winter 1943/44; his father had died at home in Straubing in 1938. On April 3, 1942, his sister, Betty, her husband, and three children were taken on a transport to Regensburg and presumably perished. His two other sisters also perished during the Holocaust. Manfred became a pharmacist and served in the US Army. He married Betsy in 1957, and they had one son. Ida died, age 65, in 1968. Maier died, age 95, on February 20, 1988.

Maier Firnbacher was born on December 23, 1892, in Gossmannsdorf, Germany, to Bertha and Joseph Firnbacher, born to Moses Firnbacher. He had four brothers and four sisters, one named Betty. Maier served in the German Army during World War I (1914-1918) and was awarded a Merit Cross and an Iron Cross for bravery. He married Ida Luchs. She was born in 1903 in Buttenweisen to Amalie and Siegmund Luchs. Ida had one brother and one sister, Hertha. Ida and Maier had one son, Manfred, born on May 19, 1930, in Regensburg. The family lived in Straubing, where Maier worked with his father as a cattle and horse dealer. The Firnbachers had one of the largest cattle businesses in Bavaria. They were an affluent, Orthodox Jewish family. In 1934, Ida’s father passed away and her mother came to live with the family. Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933 led to increasingly severe restrictions on Jews. Jewish businesses were boycotted and Maier’s cattle business declined. In November 1936, Maier’s was forbidden from entering the Regensburg slaughterhouse. One of Maier’s brothers emigrated to Palestine via Switzerland in 1936/37. By 1937, Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend school. In November, Maier was arrested while trading in the Regensburg cattle market and held in jail for five days; a tactic used to force Maier and other Jewish dealers out of business. In 1938, the German authorities refused to issue a cattle dealing license to Maier because he was Jewish. He was forced to sell farmland he owned in Straubing at a loss to a non-Jew, and lost his business. His father, his partner in the business, died that year. Maier applied for immigration visas to the United States, with sponsorship from members of the Luchs family who lived in Washington, DC. By July 1938, they were on the waiting list for visas. Maier booked passage, arranged to ship their furniture and belongings, including the family Torah, and paid the extra high emigration and property taxes for Jewish emigrants. They were permitted to take only 250 German marks per person abroad. On November 9-10, 1938, during Kristallnacht, the synagogue was ransacked. People tried to break into the family’s home, but a neighbor yelled out of his window to leave them alone. The next morning, Maier was arrested by the Gestapo. Ida brought warm clothes for Maier to the police station, where a sympathetic officer passed them on to him. After three days, Maier was sent to Dachau concentration camp. Ida took the train to Regensburg to ask the Gestapo to release Maier after she heard someone else had done the same and her husband had been released. In early December 1938, Maier returned home. Maier had given what money he had to the other inmates and just kept enough to take a train home. He was gaunt and ill from the bad conditions and cold. Maier told the family how the authorities taunted the inmates as they got off the buses and swung hoses at them. On January 6, 1939, the family had their meeting with the American consulate in Stuttgart, but an incorrect date was found on one of their papers. Maier went back to Straubing to have the date changed. After their papers were finalized, the family left on the next train for Holland. They arrived on January 11, 1939, and stayed with Ida’s brother, her sister, Hertha, and her nephew, Hansje, who had emigrated earlier. On January 28, 1939, Maier, Ida, and Manfred sailed from Rotterdam on the Volendam for New York. They arrived on February 7, and settled near Washington, DC. Ida was able to correspond through the Red Cross with her mother, Amalie, who moved to Holland in summer 1939 to live with Hertha and Hansje. Ida’s brother passed away shortly after the family left for the US. The family later found out that Hertha and Hansje were deported to Westerbork transit camp on August 26, 1942, and then to Auschwitz concentration camp, where they were killed on September 3, 1942. Amalie was deported to Westerbork in spring 1943, and then to Sobibor concentration camp, where she was killed. Maier’s mother, Bertha, was deported in 1942 to Theresienstadt ghetto-labor camp, where she died in winter 1943/44. On April 3, 1942, his sister, Betty, her husband, and three children were taken on a transport to Regensburg and presumably perished. His two other sisters also perished during the Holocaust. Manfred married Betsy in 1957, and they had one son. Ida died, age 65, in 1968. Maier died, age 95, on February 20, 1988.

Credit Line United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Fred Firnbacher
Funding Note The cataloging of this artifact has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
Record Type Object
Physical Description a. Copper colored metal alloy 8 pointed Maltese cross style medal with an embossed center medallion. The front design features an ornate L cipher for King Ludwig II topped by an imperial crown within a circular band in the form of a buckled belt; within the band are scroll designs and a Latin word. The reverse is embossed with a Bavarian crowned rampant lion within a circular band in the form of a buckled belt; within the band are scroll designs and 1866, the year the award was created. Two crossed and tied swords with detailed hilts are riveted to the upper arm of the cross, between the peaks, upon on a pair of curved scrolls which have an attached ball pierced to hold the suspension ring.
b. Rectangular, wooden base with a broken back hinge where it was attached to a box lid (c); a thin rectangle of wood is attached to the metal hinge plate with 3 nails. It is covered with blue plastic coated paper textured to resemble leather. The front side has a rectangular metal bracket with a knob for a latch. The interior has a molded insert covered in dark blue velvet and white ridged cardboard lining the sides.
c. Rectangular, wooden lid with a broken back hinge where it was attached to a box base (b). It is covered with blue plastic coated paper textured to resemble leather. There is pressed silver lettering on the exterior top. The front side has a rectangular metal bracket with a hinged scallop shaped latch with a center hole. The interior has a padded insert covered with dark blue satin with a thin black ribbon strap and a circular maker’s mark stamped in gold ink.
Link to Collection Maier Firnbacher family collection
2010.458
  Ask a reference question
Feedback
  Record last modified: 2014-07-30 16:19:57
 
About the Museum   |    Accessibility   |    Terms of Use   |    Privacy Policy   |   Contact Us