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World War I Iron Cross medal with striped ribbon awarded to a German Jewish refugee

Object | Accession Number: 2009.365.2 a-b

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    World War I Iron Cross medal with striped ribbon awarded to a German Jewish refugee


    Brief Narrative
    Iron Cross awarded to Max Wachtel for service in the German Army during World War I, 1914-1918. After four years of increasingly antisemitic Nazi rule, Max’s shoe factory in Erfurt, Germany, was confiscated in 1937 because he was Jewish. Max was able to get immigration visas for the United States, with the sponsorship of relatives in Ohio. On May 14, 1938, Max, his wife Erna, and children, Ursula and Hans, sailed from Hamburg to the US on the President Roosevelt. They arrived on May 21 and settled in Cincinnati.
    commemoration:  1914-1918
    emigration:  1938 May 14
    issue: Germany
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Andrea K. Wolf and Thomas M. Wolf
    a. obverse, top, embossed : FW
    a. obverse, bottom, embossed : 1813
    a. reverse, center, embossed : W
    a. reverse, bottom, embossed : 1914
    Subject: Max Wachtel
    Max Wachtel was born on June 17, 1884, in Erfurt, Germany, and owned a factory which manufactured heels for shoes. His family had lived in Germany since the Middle Ages. During WWI, Max served in the German Army for four years and was decorated with the Iron Cross. Max married Erna Bielschowsky, also from Erfurt, on December 25, 1910. The Wachtel family belonged to a Conservative synagogue. Ilsolotte, the eldest daughter, was born on November 11, 1911, another daughter, Ursula was born on January 1, 1915, and their son Hans Joseph was born on December 27, 1922 in Erfurt. In 1937, Max's factory was confiscated. He was able to arrange for U.S. immigration visas with sponsorship from family relatives in Cincinnati, Ohio. On May 14, 1938 Max, Erna, Ursula, and Hans Wachtel sailed from Hamburg, Germany to New York on the "President Roosevelt" arriving on May 21, 1938. The Wachtel family settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. Max started a landscaping business, Erna worked as a seamstress, and Ursula worked as a beautician. Hans volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1941, and served in Europe during World War II, returning to Cincinnati after his discharge in 1945. Ilsolotte had immigrated to Norway to work as a governess before the Wachtel family immigrated to the United States, she married and stayed there.

    Physical Details

    Military Insignia
    Object Type
    Medals, German (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    a. Blackened iron medal in the form of a cross pattee with concave arms with a silver colored, reeded line border. The front has an embossed vertical design: at the top of the central arm is a crown, then the letters FW, a sprig of 3 oak leaves and 2 acorns, and, at the bottom, the date 1813. On the reverse descending from the top of the central arm is a crown, in the center a W, and, at the bottom, the date 1914. A suspension ring is attached at the top.
    b. Grosgrain ribbon with the following vertical stripes: black, white, red, white, black, threaded through a ring attached to the crown at the top of the medal (a).
    a: Height: 2.375 inches (6.033 cm) | Width: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm)
    b: Height: 11.375 inches (28.893 cm) | Width: 1.250 inches (3.175 cm)
    a : metal
    b : ribbon

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The Iron Cross medal was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009 by Andrea Wolf and Thomas Wolf, the grandchildren of Max Wachtel.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 21:51:08
    This page:

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