Back to IWM Home   The Lusitania Medallion
     

Introduction

Reaction

Karl Goetz

German 1st Issue

British Anti-German Propaganda

German 2nd Issue

British Lusitania Medallion

 

Karl Goetz

Karl Goetz (1875-1950) a Munich-based medallist, regarded the loss of the Lusitania as an event which stemmed directly from the bewildering irresponsibility of the British Government and the Cunard Steamship Company in allowing the return of the liner from New York to Liverpool at a time of intense U-boat activity. Goetz was obviously satisfied that every effort had been made by the German authorities in the USA to emphasise the risks involved. These risks could have only increased given the doubtful status of the vessel. Simpson records that the Lusitania had been entered in the Admiralty fleet register as an armed auxiliary cruiser 'and was so entered in the Cunard ledgers'. Whether or not the hull of the vessel was a legitimate military target, there was also the question of her cargo; most authorities now agree that she was carrying war materials and even the British official history acknowledges the presence on board of rifle cartridges and shrapnel shell cases. Moreover, unrestricted submarine warfare was, since February 1915, the Germans' formally announced countermeasure to the British Naval blockade of Germany.

Sure of the justice of Germany's cause, Goetz cast a medallion, which mocked the Allied obsession with 'business' and derided the supposed impartiality of the USA. However he made a serious factual error within its detailed contents. Quite simply he got the date of the sinking wrong. According to his medal the Lusitania went down prematurely, in this instance by a matter of two days - the medallion carried the date '5. MAI 1915'. If Goetz's own account of the medallion's origins is to be believed, it was a German newspaper which supplied the information which was to inspire British Intelligence. Kienast quotes a letter from Goetz to Dr. C A Shenck (Manager of the American Friends Service Committee in Frankfurt-am-Main) dated 24 July 1921:

'...for myself the Lusitania case was not an event for triumph, but for censure of the Cunard Line for gross neglect....the 5th of May was a writing error on my part. I took the date out of a newspaper account and corrected it later to the 7th of May. The piece itself was cast for the first time in August (19)15.'

   
     
    Next

<< Back to Online Exhibitions