Three Views of the Blood Order
One of the rarest of the Third Reich political medals, the Blood Order, is one of the most widely reproduced. More properly identified as the "Ehrenzeichen vom 9.November 1923" (Decoration of November 9, 1923) it was originally created to honor the 800 or so members of the 1923 Putsch. (Incidentally, if you can find a copy of the 1933 edition of DAS BUCH DER NSDAP by Espe, you'll see some of the most remarkable period pictures of the putsch ever published.)
A few months ago I published in DG an ad asking for the loan of a real Blood Order for this article. Someone kindly responded. Meanwhile, John Pepera of Parma, Ohio, wrote me with some very interesting information that I do not believe has been published before, which I'll share with you and which could have a dramatic effect on the value of some Blood Orders! Just goes to show you that this can really be a fraternal group of collectors who share with one another for the common knowledge of all! (Also, Ed Zemaitis of Woodhaven, N.Y. sent me his real Blood Order which was fun to examine because it belonged to an SS photographer!)
Before sharing John Pepera's information, let's review the medal's history. It was struck in two versions, Type I and Type II. The design of the medal was ordered by Hitler from jeweler Josef Fuess of Munich. An initial order of 50,000 was entered but later withdrawn when 20,000 had been struck by the firm of E. Schmidhaussler of Pforzheim. Suddenly nothing more was heard of Josef Fuess, could he have been Jewish? At any rate, his name disappeared from type II when it was struck. Type I was awarded to the 800 or so people who were in the putsch attempt. The obverse features an eagle on a wreath with the date to the right. On the reverse is the Feldherrnhalle monument with a rising swastika over it. An issuance number is 'normally' below this (more on this feature in a moment) with the silver content number "990" and "J. FUESS MUNCHEN" at the lower rim. It is approximately 22mm thick and weighs 22.9 grams. Type II has only the silver content of "800" and the issuance number. It is about 1mm thicker than Type I but weighs only 17.5 grams. In addition to the thickness and weight differences, and the fact that Fuess' name has been omitted, the eagle's beak is shorter on Type II in its down-turned portion.
Note that some Blood Orders have no serial number, however, that's the part that John Pepera revealed to us. He owns the original handwritten Blood Order recipient listing and it shows that Hitler's Blood Order had no number, but neither did that of Schaub, Schwarz, Goring or Streicher! With the possible exception of Hitler's, Blood Orders without numbers are rarely seen.
In fairness, there is a serious discrepancy concerning at least the numbering of Hitler's Blood Order.
Mohawk Arms, one of the premiere auction houses, located in Utica, N.Y., believes it has Hitler's tunic with his Blood Order pinned to it, and it is undeniably numbered "1". (There is, of course, also the possibility that an unnumbered Blood Order is something along the lines of a "salesman's sample" without any number.) We don't know the answer to that idea, but isn't it interesting?
Here are some of the ways to identify the fakes. According to the Institute of Order Science, there are more than 21 varieties of fake Blood Orders in circulation! If you think you have a real one, turn to the reverse and look at the words "UND IHR HABT DOCH GESIEGT" (And yet you have conquered). The "I" looks like an English "J" but no matter. Look at the ray coming from the swastika. It should actually touch the lower left leg of the "H" in "IHR". And the second ray to the right of the center ray which comes up from the swastika should intersect the "D" in "DOCH" on the bottom left corner, not slightly to the right.
Now look at the Feldherrnhalle monument. It was a sacred building built in 1840-44 and patterned after the Loggia del Lanzi in Florence and its three statues were erected in honor of the heroes of the Franco-Prussian War. The statures are by Schwanthaler. The statue on the left is of Count Tilly, the one on the right is Prince Wrede, both Bavarian generals. The statue in the center is a victorious Bavarian Army warrior with helmet, rising his standard in the left hand and encircling and protecting Bavaria-- in the form of a beautiful maiden with a chaplet of leaves around her head-- with his shield grasped in his right hand. It is a magnificent, triumphant statement and jeweler Fuess reproduced it all with stylized intricacy.
In many of the fakes, the statues appear to be nothing more than blobs of pot metal. The lions flanking the steps often look like pigs of solder and often have large metal daubs that pass for full manes. In the real Blood Order the lions and their manes are sleek. Likewise, the two stylized Regenbogen on the frieze above the portals each feature four almost microscopic architectual "points" that are amazingly discernible under a glass.They are not just blurry round balls of metal. And all entablature features are perfectly finished off in great detail in the real medal.
Finally, a word about the value of this medal. Recent ads in this magazine and other sources have featured' medals, with documentation, from $3,000. up. Adrian Forman's book GUIDE TO THIRD REICH GERMAN AWARDS AND THEIR VALUES pegs the value of Type I medals at from $1,000. to $1,500.; Type II from $600., both of these with their original ribbons. So, the chances of you finding a real Blood Order at a 'garage sale are slim, what with 21 types of reproductions floating around. If you do locate one it will be a great find! Good luck!
Two Blood Orders Number One?
When I unpacked a large collection of relics that once belonged to former SA Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Brueckner, Hitler's Chief Adjutant, I got more than I bargained for. His son had listed a Blood Order in the inventory, but I was astounded when I saw the medal bore the stamped number "1". As many collectors know, there is already a Blood Order with serial number "1" in the possession of Mohawk Anns. The question which may now be logically asked is: "Which Blood Order is real?" First, let us consider the Blood Order owned by Mohawk Arms. This medal was part of a large collection of relics taken from Hitler's Munich apartment by former Lt. Phillip Ben Lieber at the end of the war. It is unusual in that the serial number is hand engraved not stamped. Some collectors have wondered about this anomaly, even suggesting that the number was added post-1945. However, such speculation is completely without foundation. I knew Phillip Ben Lieber and I personally inspected and photographed his entire collection in 1959, long before it came to the attention of collectors and dealers. When Lieber first showed me the Blood Order now owned by Mohawk Arms, it was already marked with the number "1". When I saw the Blood Order again two years ago, I recognized it as the one I saw and photographed in 1959. There is, therefore, no question that the Blood Order number "I" now in the possession of Mohawk Arms is genuine. How, then, could Brueckner have been in possession of another Blood Order number "I"? Klaus Patzwall's, DAS EHRENZEICHEN YOM 9. NOVEMBER 1923, provides a logical explanation. According to Patzwall's research, the Blood Order given to Hitler was issued without number. The author suggests that the Blood Order bearing the stamped number "1" was originally intended for Ernst Roehm. (There is a blank beside serial number "1" in the official list of recipients.) As there seems to exist no photograph of Roehm actually wearing a Blood Order, it is likely that he was shot before the medal was given to him. If this was the case, the Blood Order intended for Roehm undoubtedly was withdrawn from issue, ending up in someone's desk drawer or safe with all the other Blood Orders originally intended for those shot or dismissed during the Roehm Purge of 1934. The most logical person to have come into possession of these revoked awards was Brueckner, the ranking man on the commission appointed by Hitler to award the Blood Orders, number "1002" was included in another large collection of Brueckner items purchased by Bob Kraus many years ago. According to the list in Patzwall's book, this Blood Order was intended for a Franz Kastcnberger, a former member of the SA-Regiment Munchen, the unit commanded by Brueckner during the 1923 Putsch. It is not known for sure, but perhaps Kastenberger suffered the same fate as Roehm. In any case, Brueckner came into possession of at least two Blood Orders, number "1" and "1002", neither originally intended for him. (According to the list in Patzwall's book, Brueckner's own Blood Order was number "7".) With Roehm dead, Blood Order number "I" was unissued, and his name was removed from the list of recipients, leaving a blank beside that number. It must have been decided that this prestigious number be reassigned to someone, and if this were the case, the number could have gone to no one other than Hitler himself.
Therefore, it may safely be theorized that Hitler's previously unnumbered Blood Order was later hand engraved with the serial number "1", the condition in which it was found by Lieber in Hitler's apartment in 1945. No other explanation makes any sense.
Which Blood Order number "I" is real? The answer is that they both are!
The Blood Order
The Blood Order was instituted in March of 1934 and was awarded for loyal participation in Hitler's attempted "Bear Hall Putsch". There are two distinctive types of this decoration, the earlier type 1, and the later issued type 2, to use collector's terminology. The first type was initially awarded for service as stated above and in certain circumstances for rendering an outstanding service that benefited the Nazi Party. The second type was basically the same as the first type except for the absence of the manufacturer's trade mark and a lowering of the silver content from "990" as on type one, to "800". The reverse of both types are identical. The type one medals are all serial numbered from "I" through "1500". Not all of these first 1500 pieces were awarded. In addition to these first 1500 numbered pieces there were at least 5 pieces with no serial number. Such a piece was given to Adolf Hitler and four others, In addition to these there were 3 pieces awarded with "0" serial numbers. I have not been able to discover the purpose of these, Blood Order number "335" was the first one with its serial number impressed on the obverse side of the medal directly below the Feldherrnhalle monument.
Directly below this number is the "990" silver content, and below that the manufacturer's logo "J. Feuss, Munchen". This first type lies loosely in its compartment case along with the ribbon in the same compartment.
The case is dark burgundy simulated leather. The date "8.9. November 1923" is embossed in gold on the case lid and there is also a gold border around the top edge of the lid. The reverse of the case has a paper tag with the serial number of the medal printed in pale blue letters.
Alfons Brundl was born on March 16, 1909 and joined the Hitler Youth at age 13. At 16 he joined the SA and remained a member until 1931. One March 27, 1931 Brundl joined the SS and on December 12, 1934 was awarded Blood Order number "335", Brundl had many aspirations as a loyal Party member and was very active in Party Organizations usch as; Peoples Welfare Associtation, The Reich Air Patrol, The Association for Physical Exercise, The Reich Cultural Organization, Reich Music Association and was propaganda chief for local party group Glockenbach. In 1940 at the age of 31, SS Sutrmman Brundl died in action. His Blood Order was brought home after the war by an American Serviceman.
All 3 articles published in DER GAULEITER, 1989