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Karl Goetz

German 1st Issue

British Anti-German Propaganda

German 2nd Issue

British Lusitania Medallion


The British anti-German propaganda campaign

Some 300,000 British copies of Goetz's original medallion were made on the instructions of Captain Reginald Hall, RN, Director of Naval Intelligence. The logic behind the duplication was straightforward. The date error could be used to imply 'advanced planning' and that the fate of the Lusitania was sealed before her departure from New York, her sinking being premeditated and pre-arranged - although obviously some unspecified circumstance had prevented its accomplishment on the ordained date. Goetz's piece was thus placed on a par with a German 'commemorative' medallion struck in anticipation of the capture of Paris (Entry of the German Troops into Paris) - a work which was hastily suppressed after the Battle of the Marne.

  The British copy

The British copy (Q 70854)

  British Intelligence were happy further to mislead public opinion about the status of Goetz's medallion. They blurred the traditional distinction between 'medal' as an official award in respect of some act of gallantry or special service and 'medallion', regarded, by the late 19th century, as an unofficial work of art produced for sale and profit. They also contrived to represent Goetz's satirical censure of the British as if it were patriotic German celebration by focusing attention on the caption-like exergue and its date, rather than on the slogan-like text incorporated in the designs. British propaganda thus originated the myth that Goetz's 'Lusitania Medallion' was an official commemoration of the sinking and in the process implied national approval for the act itself. The widespread distribution of the British copies, with accompanying propagandist literature, undoubtedly prolonged the effect of the original sinking in influencing neutral opinion against Germany. It helped to deflect attention from the contentious issue of the British naval blockade of Germany and its concomitant, the interception and searching of neutral vessels on the high seas, as well as from other British actions that were harming her standing in neutral (and especially American) eyes. Although Goetz in a subsequent satirical medallion, It is difficult not to write a satire, endeavoured to undo some of the damage by ridiculing British propaganda efforts, the success of Captain Hall's project was difficult to deny. In January 1917 the Bavarian War Office ordered that the manufacture of the original medallion be forbidden and that all available pieces should be confiscated.

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