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    The Cruiser Leipzig and service in Memel and Sudetenland ?

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    One of the German groups in my collection includes the medals for the Memel and Sudetenland campaigns awarded when the recipient was a crew member on the Leipzig. Does anyone have information as to what the Leipzig did which allowed some/all of its crew to earn these medals ?

    The recipient later volunteered for the U-Boat arm, served on U196 and earned the Iron Cross 1st Class, surviving the war in the process. Any help on the Leipzig part of his career would be appreciated.



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    Here's a concise history:

    KMS Leipzig

    Leipzig was an improved version of the earlier K-Class cruiser, being laid down in 1928 and completed in October 1931. Her propulsion system was also a modified and a much more efficient variant of the K-types steam/diesel propulsion system (in today?s terms, COSAD or combination of steam and diesel). It comprised three shafts, the two outer being driven by admiralty-pattern steam turbines, while eight M.A.N. diesels were coupled via a common gearbox to drive the central shaft. The diesels drove the ship at cruising speed, the outer shafts at this point being turned over by small electric motors. To achieve maximum speed both steam and diesel were coupled. The inner propeller had variable pitch blades, which could be set to the most efficient angle according to the speed of the engines. After commissioning these engines were trialed in the Baltic. Leipzig's secondary armament was altered between 1931 and 1934, with a further six 3.5in guns being added and her torpedo tubes being enlarged to more the favorable 21in. In early 1936 she conducted radar trials with the Koln and her new half sister Nurnberg (and accompanying aircraft) in the North Atlantic. Later in the year she carried out her first Operation in Spain, before refitting. She then returned to Spain twice in 1937 before carrying out fleet Operations in coastal waters. She spent the next year on extensive training exercises with other ships from the Kriegsmarine, followed by a refit. At the out break of war she was stationed in the Baltic, colliding with the gunnery training ship Bremse on the 7th Nov 1939, but causing no major damage to herself. On the 12/13th December 1939 Leipzig along with the Nurnberg, Koln and five Destroyers embarked on a mining mission in the North Sea. The Leipzig and Nurnberg were both hit from torpedoes from HM Submarine Salmon (Leipzig was hit amidships, killing 15). She went to Blohm & Voss yards at Hamburg for initial repairs followed by a move and further repairs/modifications (the destroyed boiler rooms were turned into cadet rooms) at Kiel, being de-activated in February 1940. In September she was re-commissioned and used as a training ship for the gunnery and torpedo schools from Danzig. In September 1941 Leipzig and the cruiser Emden bombarded Russian shore batteries and sank the MTB 83. After some brief repairs in Kiel she became a training ship, mostly operating from the Baltic until becoming de-activated in late 1943 on Hitler?s orders. She later returned to sea with a reduced crew. On the evening of 15th October 1944, Leipzig left Gotenhafen for Swinemunde with a cargo of mines in poor visibility. During the complex diesel to steam turbine engine change over, she was rammed by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen (rammed amidships between the bridge structure and the funnel). The ship was so badly damaged it was feared she might break in two. She was taken back to Gotenhafen for temporary repairs. With the land battle now encroaching her on 24th March 1945, Leipzig expends 896 rounds during the battle for Gotenhafen before moving onto Apenrade (Denmark) with 500 refugees aboard. This is where she remained until the German surrender. She was then moved to Swinemunde and on the 16 December 1946 she was scuttled in the North Sea (there is some question to believe that she was scuttled with gas shells aboard?)

    Nothing there that would qualify for the pair of medals!

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    In order to get the Sudeten medal, no special activity or being in some specific place was necessary. Basically, anyone all over the Reich who carried a packet that was sent to the Sudetenland could earn it. More than 1 million were given out. Hitler was annoyed by this and consequently made the criteria for the next Anschluss medal, the Memel medal, quite strict. You had to have been there, in Memelland, to get it. There were only about 30,000 Memel medals awarded.


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    Guest Rick Research

    As I understand it, the navy's Collective Nose was out of joint becuase the AUSTRIAN Anschluss left them out, as a result of which some percentage of personnel was simply picked out from the navy to take part in the Sudeten parade. A few were selected from each unit, possibly by lot on some unknown ratio of officers and men.

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