Field Marshall's Batons

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  1. Georg Schoenerer Der Judenkenner

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    The German Military Baton

    by Andrew Hamilton

    A LITTLE-KNOWN but highly significant military symbol of Germany and the Third Reich was the personalized Marshal’s baton, a short, heavy, bejeweled emblem of authority carried only by Field Marshals (Generalfeldmarschall) of the Army (Heer) and Air Force (Luftwaffe) and Grand Admirals (Großadmiral) of the Navy (Kriegsmarine).

    These were the highest military ranks in Germany until the creation in July 1940 of the rank of Reichsmarschall for Hermann Göring. The Reichsmarshal position came with its own baton, making Göring the sole possessor of two batons. (Göring had received his Luftwaffe Field Marshal’s baton in 1938.)

    In all, only 26 batons were awarded to 25 individuals (again, 2 to Hermann Göring): 1 Reichsmarshal baton, 18 Army batons, 5 Air Force batons, and 2 Navy batons. As a consequence, the number of batons and the number of baton holders do not match exactly. In addition, three field marshals did not receive batons.
    Following the 1945 destruction of Germany, the rank of Field Marshal was abolished.

    [IMG]

    The military baton originated in ancient Rome, although some sources maintain the baton was used in Classical Greece, e.g., by the army of Sparta around 414 BC.

    A primary symbol of
    power of the Roman imperator (general in the army) to command was a short, heavy, ivory baton surmounted by an eagle carried as his personal emblem of office.

    Use of the baton has probably been continuous in Europe since Roman times, though historical information is spotty. Marshals of the Holy Roman Empire (medieval Germany) carried batons.

    [IMG] Life size Roman marble forearm holding baton

    There have been Marshals of France since 1190. French kings and later Napoleon provided their marshals with ornate batons. One such Marshal of France was Philippe Pétain, head of the Vichy regime during WWII.

    Marshals’ batons were also used in the British Empire, Russia, and other European countries from at least 1700 on. A 1735 equestrian statue of King William III in Glasgow, Scotland commemorating the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 depicts William in traditional roman attire with baton in hand.

    Batons of the Third Reich

    As noted, batons were only carried by Field Marshals and their Navy equivalents, Grand Admirals. They are called Marshals’ batons(pl. Marschallstäbe, sing. Marschallstab) or Grand Admirals’ batons (pl. Großadmiralstäbe, sing. Großadmiralstab).

    A baton was the tangible symbol of a Field Marshal’s/Grand Admiral’s rank and status, a badge of authority, not a mere decoration.

    The primary Field Marshal/Grand Admiral baton, carried on important ceremonial occasions, was an expensive, beautiful work of art individually handcrafted by the Berlin jewelry firm H. J. Wilm.
    [IMG]
    Baton of Feldmarschal Maximillian Freiherr von Weichs

    Though all batons were of similar general construction, each service’s design differed somewhat. The metal shafts, covered in different-colored velvet, were decorated with gold, silver, and platinum Iron Crosses, swastikas, Wehrmacht eagles, and other emblems.

    The recipient’s name and date of attainment of rank were also engraved on the baton. After the holder’s death it became a family heirloom.

    [IMG] Grand Admiral Raeder

    Because Göring was the only individual to receive two batons for his dual ranks of Air Force Field Marshal and Reichsmarshal, the single most impressive and expensive baton was his white elephant ivory Reichsmarshal’s baton, signifying his rank above all other marshals and admirals. It incorporated exceptional materials, including platinum in the inscription banding and more than 600 small diamonds.

    Today, Göring’s Luftwaffe Field Marshal baton is displayed at the National Infantry Museum, Fort Benning, Georgia, and his Reichsmarshal baton at West Point Museum, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.

    Every newly-promoted Generalfeldmarschall or Großadmiral was actually presented with two batons: the primary baton just described and a so-called Interim Baton (Interimsstab) for everyday use, which, though less expensive, was far from cheap.

    Beautifully and decoratively wrought, interim batons were different in shape, about 31 inches long, wider and heavier at the top, tapering to a narrow end. They resembled riding crops. Each general’s or admiral’s name was written on the Interimsstab in Gothic letters. Interim batons served as emblems of rank for everyday use to save wear and tear on the delicate, vulnerable, and costly ceremonial batons.

    [IMG]
    Rommel's baton and interim baton

    There is only one book about Marshals’ batons, and it is in German: André Stirenberg and André Hüsken, Mythos Marschallstab. DerMarschallstab in der preußischen und deutschen Geschichte von 1852 bis 1945 (Bremen: Hauschild Verlag, 2004). Three used copies are currently sold on Amazon at prices ranging from $159 to $279.

    It appears that only a handful of authentic WWII Field Marshals’ batons are displayed in museums in the US, Great Britain, Moscow, Germany, and elsewhere. Others are held in private collections.

    Some remain in the possession of the holders’ families.
    Some batons were destroyed or stolen by the Allied, Jewish, and Communist occupiers.

    [IMG] jews gloat over stolen baton

    Luftwaffe Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Hermann Göring’s deputy and founder in the 1920s of Europe’s largest airline, Lufthansa, had his gold field marshal’s baton stolen; it was returned to his family in the 1980s.

    In 1944, Milch was seriously injured in a car accident. When captured by the Allies the following year, British Brigadier General Derek Mills-Roberts sneered that “All German generals are criminals, murderers, guilty of the atrocities of the concentration camps, etc.”

    When Milch replied that he belonged to the Air Force and had never had the least to do with concentration camps in his life, Mills-Roberts flew into a rage, seized the Field Marshal’s silver-knobbed Interim Baton and beat the invalid until he fractured Milch’s skull and the shaft broke.

    Still furious, “with hatred in his face,” the general proceeded to assault Milch with a champagne bottle. The entire episode was filmed.

    “During this time,” Milch wrote, “all the soldiers had their tommyguns cocked and pointed at me so that the slightest attempt to defend myself would have been suicide.”

    It seems clear from this and many similar incidents that Allied and Communist leaders successfully inculcated maniacal anti-German hatred in their followers, much like the anti-White hatred we experience today.

    Ultimately, Mills-Roberts stole Milch’s Interim baton, which his daughter sold at auction in London in 1986.



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