Hi Collector friends,
my latest addition to my own little collection is a near mint auxiliary cruiser war badge made by Schwerin Berlin. So some of you are not so much into Kriegsmarine awards what I can understand. Famous are the known U-boat Aces and their badges, followed by the big Battleships and the High Sea Fleet badge and that’s about it.
But a really interesting field is the story about all the auxiliary cruisers which raided the oceans worldwide during the second world war.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I think it was about 25 years ago, I was as a young collector with no money and sure without a big knowledge. Back that days it worked without the Internet to get your hands on medals and badges from World War 2. So what did we do?
We ran around every flea marked we had the chance to go to, we asked almost everybody we know about war badges in their family or if the old grandfather was as a soldier in World War 2.
Sometimes you were lucky enough to get an Iron Cross or a Mother Cross from a friend`s house or even from your own relatives.
Funny thing was that almost everybody knew a Veteran living close by or next door.
That opened doors for good story’s and sometime for nice estates.
In that case my father told me about Mr. Körner. He was the local shoemaker and a retired civil worker of the German Bundeswehr. I found out, that he was a crew member of the Gorch Fock, the German Navy School Ship for Officers and before that, he was in the Kriegsmarine.
So I went to his house, rang the bell and as he opened the door I told him who I was and that I like to hear something about his Kriegsmarine time.
Took me three times at his door to make him understand who I was and what my intension were. Finally, he let me in and we had a little talk about his time on the Gorch Fock.
Interesting cruises and good time was what he told me. After 20 Minutes I asked about his time in the Kriegsmarine. Suddenly he was quiet and looked me deep in my eyes……. Then he told me to get up and we went in his little office in the back of his house.
There were some pictures on the wall with ship crossing the ocean. One was the “Schulschiff Deutschland” of the German Navy and another one was “HSK Atlantis” ………
So I found a crew member of Bernhard Rogges Auxiliary cruiser who made the 622-day trip around the world.
He told me about his time on the Ship “Albert Leo Schlageter” and then his first day on board of Atlantis. All what happened there until he ended up explaining his transport back in an Italian submarine after they were sunk……..
Back in Germany he served on a Minesweeper and finally he evacuated lots of civilians from Kurland Kessel until the end of the war.
The best and also the last wartime Story was the cruise back home. His Minesweeper boat were somewhere in a Harbor (think it was Travemünde) far away from Kiel. It was the 8th of May 1945 and the war was over. Most of his comrades and the officers left the minesweeper and headed home for their families.
He stayed on the boat and tried to figure out what to do. So he and some other navy soldiers (what was left of the Crew) took the boat all the way back to Kiel Harbor, stopped there and left the boat.
It was a 50 km march home to his wife and his daughter. He got close to his hometown (about 5 km left to go) as suddenly British troops stopped him.
They asked him who he was and where he wanted to go (he was still in Kriegsmarine Uniform). He told them all they wanted to know…. finally, they send him home with the promise to stay in his town for the next weeks until they come back.
So he did and weeks later he got his paperwork that he was official a non-war criminal no prisoner of war. He was a free man and lucky to survive the war.
Never heard that before, it is something different reading a book about Ship 16 (HSK 2) or talk to a man who experienced it all during that time.
After the war he worked as a civilian shoemaker on the German “Schulschiff Deutschland” and then on the “Gorch Fock” until he retired.
I went back three times for more information’s about his time on board. He showed me pictures and paperwork from his time and on the last day he presented his Auxiliary badge made by Schwerin Berlin. Back that days I did not know it better, but my friend Martin W. explained that the whole Atlantis Crew got their Badges together in Berlin and…..they all got Juncker Badges. So I never asked Mr. Körner but it seemed like he bought another one for his uniform and that piece survived the war.
I did not ask for it but he put it all on the table together with his Iron Cross 1st class and Iron Cross 2nd class, his minesweeper badge and his 1957 clasp. There I saw that he also got the Navy Front Clasp and the Kurland cuff title. He told me that if I want the badges I can have them………..
What an honor that he wanted to give them to me. I told him that they will get a good place in my collection. While we were talking his wife came in, looked at us and asked what we are doing with the old Nazi badges. So he told her that he wanted to give me the badges for my collection.
You can imagine what happened next. She said the son in law was also a soldier on actice duty (not like me in the navy but in the army) and he asked for the badges years ago. So if somebody will get them, it will not be me.
I did not say anything and waited for the reaction of Mr. Körner. As you all know the real boss in your house is the “CIC Home fleet”, your wife…..and when she decides then she decides.
With little tears in my eyes I left Mr. Körner and headed home. Over the years I stopped by to see how he is and we talked about the old navy and the new navy.
In 2009 he had his 70 years wedding anniversary and shortly after that he died and I didn´t had the chance to participate at his funeral because I was far away from home with my ship.
All the years I tried to get an auxiliary cruiser badge made from Tombak by Schwerin Berlin with the marker on it……that was not easy.
If there was one, I did not have the money to buy it or the badge was in such a bad condition…. Sometimes you have to wait and wait and wait. I got some nice Juncker Auxiliary Badges for my collection and also Schwerin Berlin made badges, but always without marker on the backside.
Finally, with the help of Christian K. I got mine and the Schwerin Collection is now complete!
Here is some background on Auxiliary Cruisers and the Atlantis for you:
At the outbreak of war, the Kriegsmarine requisitioned a number of fast merchantmen and immediately sent them into naval shipyards to be converted into offensive auxiliary cruisers. These ships had at the time of building been fitted with extra strong decks specifically to facilitate the installation of military equipment when required, but this was the only difference between them and other merchantmen of the period. No precise plans had been drawn up for the conversion of these ships into warships, and consequently the conversion process was painfully long. Compared to the diversity of British auxiliary cruisers, the Hilfskreuzer were standardized insofar as possible. The ships themselves averaged approximately 7,000 long tons (7,100 t). Armament usually consisted of six 6 in guns, two to six torpedo tubes, and an assortment of 40 mm (1.57 in), 37 mm, and 20 mm (0.79 in) automatic weapons. Most of these merchant raiders carried an Arado Ar 196 floatplane for reconnaissance. Kormoran, Komet, and Michel were also equipped with small motor torpedo boats. In addition to armament, increased fuel, water, and coal storage had to be provided for as well. Furthermore, the raiders could not abandon the crews of their captures, so space had to be provided for prisoners. The first Hilfskreuzer got under way in March 1940, shortly before the Norwegian campaign. The Auxiliary Cruisers were credited with sinking roughly 800,000 tons of Allied shipping during the war. Of the eleven main Auxiliary Cruisers, six were sunk by enemy action, one burnt in Yokohama harbor, one was scuttled after battle damage, one was decommissioned and the remaining two were captured by the Allies at the end of the war.
- Orion (HSK-1)
- Atlantis (HSK-2)
- Widder (HSK-3)
- Thor (HSK-4)
- Pinguin (HSK-5)
- Stier (HSK-6)
- Komet (HSK-7)
- Kormoran (HSK-8)
- Michel (HSK-9)
- Coronel (HSK-10)
- Hansa (HSK-11)
The German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis (HSK 2), known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16 and to the Royal Navy as Raider-C, was a converted German Hilfskreuzer (auxiliary cruiser), or merchant or commerce raider of the Kriegsmarine, which, in World War II, travelled more than 161,000 km (100,000 mi) in 602 days, and sank or captured 22 ships totaling 144,384 t (142,104 long tons). Atlantis was commanded by Kapitän zur See Bernhard Rogge, who received the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. She was sunk on 22 November 1941 by the British cruiser HMS Devonshire.
The Auxiliary Cruiser Badge or the Hilfskreuzer Badge is one of the nicest Kriegsmarine badges I know. Always a looker on not very often to find.
The Auxiliary Cruiser War Badge was instituted on April 24th 1941, by “Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine und Großadmiral”, (Commander in Chief of the Navy and Grand Admiral), Erich Raeder, for award to armed Merchant Marine personnel, to recognize their contribution in harassing and sinking Allied merchant ships… Of Note: Generally, the early production Auxiliary Cruiser War Badges had the separate likeness of the globe attached by a single rivet, while later war production versions were manufactured as a single piece.
The Badge normally is a two piece, die struck, tombak construction badge with fire gilt and nickel/silver plated finishes. The badge is in the form a gilt washed, vertically oval, embossed, oak-leaf wreath with a national eagle with big out-stretched wings, clutching a canted, swastika in its talons, superimposed to the top center, encompassing a cut-out, „Viking“ style, long boat with full sail, cruising on a separate likeness of a nickel/silver plated, northern portion of the globe. The detailing includes the dragon figurehead and oval shields on the ship, longitude and latitude lines and the embossed outline of Great Britain, Western Europe and North Africa on the globe. The separate globe is attached to the badge by a single, small, dome headed, rivet which is visible on the reverse. The reverse has a soldered, solid, block type hinge, a broad, tapering, vertical pin and a heavy, soldered, retaining catch all intact.
There 6 different versions from that Schwerin Badge. We are only looking at Tombak made Badges with Schwerin Berlin marked on the backside. Martin W. was so kind to help me out with backside pictures. Here you see the difference between 3 badges.
But that’s not all, Norm F. made list of all known versions and here is the list.
1 Tombak, aluminum globe, marked, flipped block hinge with dome-head hinge pin on left
2 Tombak, aluminum globe, marked, flipped block hinge with dome-head hinge pin on right
3 Tombak, aluminum globe, marked, flipped block hinge with dome-head hinge pin on right, hand-filed internal margins (without use of standardized trimming tool)
4 Tombak, aluminum globe, marked, flipped block hinge with flat/waffle-head hinge pin on left
5 Tombak, aluminum globe, marked, flipped block hinge with flat/waffle-head hinge pin on right
6 Tombak, aluminum globe, marked, flipped block hinge with headless hinge pin on left
If you have more questions about Auxiliary War Badges feel free to contact me. I gone try to answer the question or I will transport the question to my Kriegsmarine Collector Friends and Specialist for that kind of awards Martin, Norm and Hubert.
Thank you for reading, please help the blog to get more readers and more writers……Let the other collectors know what you can find here.