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I am finding myself confused and/or ignorant on a couple of things.

1. If an officer's Patent as a lieutenant is dated 17 April 1897, does that mean he entered service on that date, was commissioned later, and given a Patent backdated to then? Or does it mean he was a Portepee-Fähnrich before then, and became a lieutenant on that date? Thus, would such an officer have a Centenary Medal? He would have to have been on active duty in March 1897 to qualify, wouldn't he?

2. When would such an officer qualify for the DA? This is my calculation: Assuming no overseas service before 1914, he would have about 17.3 years of service at mobilization. So with double-counting, he would need 3.85 years of wartime service to reach 25 years. If he stayed on active duty through the war, this would be reached around June of 1918. Is this right? Am I missing anything?

Thanks

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By my count, there were 51 active duty officers in May 1914 with a date of rank as a Sek.Lt. of 17.04.1897. Of these, I have Stammlisten entries for 11 officers. I'll use Hptm Kurt von Chmielewski from IR 28 to serve as a representative example of what I found. He entered IR 17 on 09.12.1895, was promoted Fähnrich on 18.07.1896 and Sek.Lt. on 17.04.1897. The other 10 have a very similar background. So, I would say that he was certainly authorized the centenary medal, as he was on active duty 22.03.1897.

According to the law governing pensions of active duty officers time is service was calculated from the date an individual entered service :

Als Dienstzeit wird nur die im aktiven Heeres abgeleistete Dienstzeit gerechtnet. ...Nach dem Reichs Militärgesetz vom 02.05.1871, § 38 gehören zum aktiven Heere:

A. Die Militärpersonen des Friedenstandes, und zwar:

1. die Offiziere, Ärzte und Militärbeamten des Friedenstandes vom Tage ihrer Anstellung bis zum Zeitpukt ihrer Entlastung.

So, I believe that in the instance of Hptm. von Chmielewski his start date towards his 25 years began on 09.12.1895 rather than 17.04.1897, the date he was commissioned. This would have made him eligible for his DA 16 months earlier than your calculation.

Andy

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By my count, there were 51 active duty officers in May 1914 with a date of rank as a Sek.Lt. of 17.04.1897. Of these, I have Stammlisten entries for 11 officers. I'll use Hptm Kurt von Chmielewski from IR 28 to serve as a representative example of what I found. He entered IR 17 on 09.12.1895, was promoted Fähnrich on 18.07.1896 and Sek.Lt. on 17.04.1897. The other 10 have a very similar background. So, I would say that he was certainly authorized the centenary medal, as he was on active duty 22.03.1897.

According to the law governing pensions of active duty officers time is service was calculated from the date an individual entered service :

Als Dienstzeit wird nur die im aktiven Heeres abgeleistete Dienstzeit gerechtnet. ...Nach dem Reichs Militärgesetz vom 02.05.1871, § 38 gehören zum aktiven Heere:

A. Die Militärpersonen des Friedenstandes, und zwar:

1. die Offiziere, Ärzte und Militärbeamten des Friedenstandes vom Tage ihrer Anstellung bis zum Zeitpukt ihrer Entlastung.

So, I believe that in the instance of Hptm. von Chmielewski his start date towards his 25 years began on 09.12.1895 rather than 17.04.1897, the date he was commissioned. This would have made him eligible for his DA 16 months earlier than your calculation.

Andy

Thanks for your help. Really good information. One of the guys who brought this question to mind is probably on your list:

Max Büttner, in 1914 a Hptm. in IR 173, still there in the January 1, 1919 Dienstaltersliste, and in the Ehrenrangliste as a Maj.a.D. He had the BZ3bmE in the 1914 RL. Based on what you've written, it would seem that we should probably be able to add the Centenary to this and likely the DA. In 1902, he was a Lt. in IR 111, so maybe also the Baden Jubilee Medal. So from a single decoration in the RL we potentially have at least four, not including an EK2, which is likely as well.

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Unfortunately, I do not have a Stammliste entry from Hptm. Büttner, Nevertheless, looking through ther MWB, he was a Port. Fähnr. d. Res. d. GR 12 when on 18.06.1895 he left the army, only to return to IR 59 with his commission (date unknown) as a Port. Fähnr. on 20.05.1896, clearly making him eligible for the centenary medal. He was promoted Sek.Lt. on 17.04.1897.

Andy

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Dave, Andy

having consulted the Stammliste of Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 111, I can confirm he returned to active duty on 20 May 1896 in Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 59 (i.e. the date of his appointment to Portepee-Fähnrich).

Regards

Glenn

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Thanks Glenn and Andy!

A similar example:

Günther Köpke, 6.5.1877-21.3.1918. According to the Offizier-Stammliste of LGR 8, Köpke entered service on 20.2.1896 as a Zweijährig-Freiwilliger, promoted to Portepeefähnrich on 12.9.1896, and to Sekondelieutenant on 20.7.1897. So as a Portepeefähnrich in March 1897, he would have been eligible for the Centenary Medal?

He was promoted to Oberleutnant on 15.6.1907, but when he was transferred to IR 71 in 1912, he was given a new patent of 14.9.1905. Then, a few months later, he was promoted to Hauptmann (1.10.1912). How does that work? Was he given a backdated patent to make him eligible for promotion, or is there some other reason?

Thanks and regards,

Dave

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Dave,

I believe he certainly would have recieved the centenary medal given the fact the entered service in 1896.

As far an the antedated commission, that was fairly common. Given that promotions were based solely on seniority, it was the one way in which officers identified as fast burners could rise in rank to take positions of greater responsibility at a younger age more quickly. Given how long the average captain stayed at that rank, a two year jump made a significant difference.

Most often, they received the back-dated promtion when they transfered to a new unit (or were transferred in order to give them a back-dated commission) so as not to create issues within the regimental officer corps. It might prove awkward for a captain to one day out rank another to whom he had previously been junior. Starting fresh in a new regiment could avoid such situations altogether. A rather clever way to move the right people along without compromising the concept of seniority.

Andy

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks again for all the help and insight.

On the Centenary Medal, here is an older WAF thread I long forgot about with some good information from Rick and others: http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57132

Now a few more questions/examples, if it is no bother:

1. An Unteroffizier and char. Port.-Fähnrich, promoted to Port.-Fähnrich on 18.11.97, promoted to Sek.Lt. on 18.8.98. Absent finding a regimental Stammliste, is there any way to know/guess when such a person would have originally entered service? Was the officer commissioning process at the time a two-year process? 1 1/2 years? Is this a stupid question because there may have been too many different ways for regular officers to get commissioned, so there really isn't a standard?

2. An officer who entered service 1.4.92 as an Offizier-Aspirant, Port.-Fähnrich on 17.11.92, Sek.Lt. on 18.11.93, placed zur Disposition as a Hauptmann on 16.4.12. So, 20 years, 2 weeks of service at that point. Recalled to active duty in World War I, given the Charakter of Maj.z.D. on 27.1.15 and a Patent as Major on 15.7.16. The z.D. time from 1912 to 1914 shouldn't count, right? But the z.D. time in World War I would count, and be doubled, right? So if he got at least 2 1/2 years of wartime service, he should qualify, shouldn't he.

Thanks again!

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Dave,

Hauptmann v. Rabenau's "Die deutsche Land- und Seemacht und die Berufspflichten des Offiziers" 1906, give a table showing various routes to a commission, both cadet and direct entry as a Fahnenjunker. Normally Fahnenjunker were promoted directly to Portepee-Fähnrich, whereas as ex-cadets usually utilised the rank of char. Portepee-Fähnrich. But generally speaking, a Fahnenjunker ultimately commissioned in August 1898 would normally have entered service on 1 April 1897. From the example quoted:

1 April 1905: Entry in the Army as a Fahnenjunker.

6 months service and Fähnrich's examination, followed shortly thereafter by promotion to Fähnrich.

October 1905: Attend War School.

Jume 1906: Officer's Examination, followed by regimental duty and vote by officer corps.

Promotion to Officer in approximately August 1906.

It seems the average for a direct entry non cadet from entry to commissioning was 15-16 months.

Regards

Glenn

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Was the officer commissioning process at the time a two-year process? 1 1/2 years? Is this a stupid question because there may have been too many different ways for regular officers to get commissioned, so there really isn't a standard?

The Steps to Becoming an Officer?

As you can imagine, the steps were full of exceptions and changes, all aimed at ensuring the right person was accepted and that the wrong person was not. The basic ten steps to commissioning were similar for both the civilian method, Fahnenjunker, and the cadet schools Fähnriche method. Some steps had more exceptions than others.

Step 1 -- Select a regiment to join

All guard and cavalry regiments actively recruited nobles to keep the regiments pure. A variety of methods were used to lure the young noblemen. They used fancy uniforms and depot locations near fashionable, large towns. Guard and cavalry units could expect additional income of 1000 marks per month for candidates. The more remote, lower-regarded regiments often had problems attracting new recruits. Despite this, they insisted on a rigid class and social pick during step 2.[1] The maintenance of high social standards led to great shortages of officers. Officially, the blame was placed on the middle-class for not wanting to wade through the army’s prejudices.[2] Even up until 1918, regiments tried to keep up the illusion of a “noble” officer corps with a personal relationship to the king.

Step 2 -- Get a regimental colonel to sponsor you

Sponsorship was key and perhaps the most difficult step on the ladder. Not only was the candidate scrutinized, but also his family. Sufficient income was required as the regimental commander and the current officers did not want to accept a fiscal problem- maker. Vera von Etzel tells a touching story about how Artur v. Klingspor made it into the Kürassier-Regiment von Seydlitz (Magdeburgisches) Nr.7. The gear was very expensive at that time and a burden even for his father, Lieutenant Gen. Leo v. Klingspor. Artur’s father subsidized him and he received his commission, but the subsidization came only after his younger brother, Hans Arvid, died while in the academy. Perhaps the loss of a son required his father to make sure his surviving son was in the best.

The enormous cost of a “'fancy” regiment would keep the regiments populated by the more affluent - the “vons.”[3] The father of the candidate and his son went to a dinner to be seen by all in a one night precursor of step 8. Those who were not cadets attempted to be selected as Fahnenjunker. This rank went through several iterations in an attempt to make it more professional. Prior to 1900, the regimental commander promoted the candidates after six months to the rank of Fähnrich. After 1900, more stringent criteria were enacted in an endeavor to end nepotism, which required the candidate for Fahnenjunker to have a one-year certificate but not the Abitur. Then prior to selection, the candidate had to pass a specific written test of general knowledge. If the individual passed, he enrolled as a Fahnenjunker and was allowed to take the Fähnrich examination. In infantry and dragoon regiments, a Fahnenjunker was known as a Fahnenjunker; in other cavalry regiments, a Fahnenjunker was known as a Kornet or a Standartenjunker. In artillery regiments, the individual was called a Stückjunker. The amount of time spent as a Fahnenjunker seems to have varied a great deal. The colonel would not give final approval until the Fähnrich exam was passed or in the bag. Cramming with a tutor for the exam was a standard practice.

Step 3; Pass the Fähnrich examination

In theory, each candidate was supposed to have a Prima certificate (Primareiferzeugnis) or special dispensation to gain entry to the Fähnrich examination. Ninety percent had a Prima Certificate and seventy-five percent passed the Fähnrich exam the first time. You could take it again and few failed the second time. If indeed there was a second failure, candidates were transferred into the ranks as an enlisted soldier or Unteroffizier. In 1890, the Kaiser demanded grading leniency for this examination. If leniency failed, he used dispensations, which totaled over 1000 between 1901 and 1912.[4]

There still were failures. In 1878, eight cadets failed the exam. All eight eventually were made Fähnrich and six of them earned their commission. Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, failed the examination and was sent to the 1st Ulan Regiment as an Unteroffizier. Eight months later, he was made a Fähnrich and eventually was commissioned. This put his date of rank behind his classmates of 1911.[5]

Step 4 -- Spend time in the ranks in the regiment

A Patent or “charakterisierter Fähnrich” was a graduate of a Kadettenschule, who served with a regiment before getting his commission. A Fahnenjunker was an officer candidate, who held a certificate from a Gymnasium, who has passed the required examination in military subjects, and served with a regiment before obtaining his commission. The non-cadet individuals who passed the Fähnrich exam and moved into the regiment as a Gemeiner (private) but were referred to as an “avantageur,” joined the cadet Fähnrichs. Officially, the title was “Officeraspirant”--that title was officially changed in 1899 to “Fahnenjunker.” He lived in the barracks for a period that varied by regiment from one to six weeks. He started as a Gemeiner and when he moved out of the barracks became a Gefreiter. Patent Fähnrich never were privates just Gefreiter. He bore all costs associated with his service like a one-year volunteer did. At this point, he could also have a civilian batman (personal servant).[6]

When promoted to Unteroffizier, he got to eat in the officers’ mess. At this point, he was called “Fähnrich.” A Fähnrichsvater was appointed to be his mentor. Long drinking bouts and rules of the mess were common place. While the Fähnrich was encouraged to spend freely, indebtedness was a major embarrassment for the entire mess. Step 4 passed ever more quickly. At first, it was six months and then by the turn of the century, it was three months (two if you came from a cadet school).[7] Eventually, the time in the ranks was so short folks did not learn the system. Only the reserve officers who went through the year as an OYV understood the difficulties of the lower enlisted ranks.[8]

Step 5 -- Be promoted to Fähnrich "if all went well.”

The aspirant applied to the colonel that he was “qualified” and deserved a military qualification certificate (Dienstzeugnis). If approved by the colonel and all of the officers in the regiment, he was officially promoted to Fähnrich and paid a salary. He also got to wear the silver sword knot. Initially called Portepefähnrich that title was eliminated in 1899. Between 1892 and 1894 for example, 59 percent of the cadets became Brevet Fähnrich, 10 percent Patent Fähnrich and about 33 percent were Selekta.[9]

Step 6 -- A course at the Kriegsschule.

Cadet Abitur holders, Selekta cadets, and civilian Abitur holders ,who had been university students for a year, were exempted from this requirement from the Kriegsschule. However, if you look at the ages of the attending students you see that expanded civilian education took time and money; whereas, you could skip the education and go into the commissioning system and start making money and seniority. This length of this course shortened as the need for officers became more pressing and cadets wanted their commission in a year. At the end of the course, you took the officer’s exam. This course eventually went from twelve to seven months in length.[10]

Step 7 -- Pass officer examination and return to regiment.

Selekta Cadets went straight to step 10 if they passed the officer exam. Passing was not a problem (98 percent passed with re-take option). If indeed you did fail, you entered the army as a Fähnrich.[11] Obedience and attitude came before grades. The officers’ examination was considered far easier than the Fähnrich exam.[12] At the regiment, the Fähnrich waited (briefly) for a vacancy and to complete the next steps.

Step 8 -- Regimental officers balloted to see if they agreed to accept the candidate.

Selekta cadets did not have to undergo this. Majority vetoes were final and were sent to the King for decision. If you failed, you were either sent to another regiment for another try or to the reserves with a major stigma. Few candidates failed, as it required going against the colonel’s wishes. Some were rejected because of a lack of personal wealth, in which case the candidate was sent to another regiment without stigma. [13]

Step 9 -- Colonel recommends to the Kaiser promotion to second lieutenant

The Fähnrich became a second lieutenant and a member of the social elite, except if you were in the Artillery or Engineers. These two branches considered the newly commissioned as supernumeraries until they had served one (artillery) or two (pioneer) years, attended technical school, and passed a qualifying exam.[14] The nobility viewed technical schools as “schools for plumbers.”[15] Is there any question why the nobles eschewed these branches?

Step 10 -- Promotion is officially “Gazetted”[16]

There were numerous rules for seniority and backdating dates of rank. It is important to look at the different methods of commissioning and understand the pluses and minuses. Generally, the ten steps took approximately 18 months after the Obersekunda year. Therefore a Fahnenjunker, or a cadet entering as a charakterisiert Fähnrich at the age of 17, could gain a commission at the approximate age of 18 ½ years. Selekta cadets stayed in the Academy for an additional 12 months, but would be commissioned directly without a vote of officers -- a full six months faster than a Fahnenjunker or other early graduating cadet. The Prima cadets seeking the Abitur stayed in the Academy for two additional years, but still faced the vote in step eight. Originally, date of rank was 24 months after the Obersekunda year. In February 1900, royal order eliminated this penalty when the date of rank of Prima cadets was backdated to equal the same date as of the Selekta cadets. A Prima cadet now had the Abitur necessary to continue studies at the University and the same early date of rank as a Selekta.[17]

[1] (Clemente, 1992) pg 64

[2] (Clemente, 1992)pg. 207

[3] Wehrmacht-Awards thread, Prussian commissioning, 7/28/2004 Posted by Brian S.

v[4] (Clemente, 1992), pg 43

[5] (Moncure, 1993) pg 239-241

[6] (Clemente, 1992) pg 72

[7] (Clemente, 1992) pg 73-74

[8] (Clemente, 1992) pg 150-151

[9] (Clemente, 1992) pg 73-74

[10] (Clemente, 1992) pg.150

[11] (Moncure, 1993) pg. 242

[12] (Clemente, 1992) pg 150-157

[13] (Clemente, 1992) pgs 158-159

[14] (Clemente, 1992) pg 160

[15] (Clemente, 1992)pg 210

[16] (Martin, 1936) pg 16

[17] (Moncure, 1993)Pg. 168-170.

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Dave,

The z.D. time from 1912 to 1914 shouldn't count, right?

I imagine that would depend on what he was doing. Was he employed during this period in an established retired officers' post such as a Bezirksoffizier or Pferdevormusterungskommissar?

Regards

Glenn

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Joe

Many thanks for that information!

Dave,

I imagine that would depend on what he was doing. Was he employed during this period in an established retired officers' post such as a Bezirksoffizier or Pferdevormusterungskommissar?

Regards

Glenn

He was a Diensttuender Kammerherr Ihrer Majestät der Kaiserin und Königin.

Edited by Dave Danner
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