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#294418 02/02/2014 02:04 PM
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Hello Gents,

Hope everyone is making the best of this long, miserable winter and finding some goodies for your collections. All this snow shoveling and rotten driving conditions are starting to take their toll on many of us, I'm sure. crazy

On a lighter and brighter side I'd like to share a recent find that some of you might enjoy. Here goes ...

German - Nordhausen Mayor�s/Magistrate's Chain of Office (Livery Collar)

Early neck chain that came from the Thurber estate in Providence, Rhode Island. Tilden-Thurber was one of the finest jewelry retailers for many years and specialized in estate jewelry of the highest quality.

The chain and all the connecting links are all gilded and reflect extra-fine details throughout. The two larger link assemblies that support the outside left and right portions of the central medallion are graduated in size, with the largest being attached to a pair of acanthus-style mounts on the medal. The medallion is 65mm in diameter and 5mm thick. The obverse portrays the relief silhouette of the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III, "Gr�nder der Staedteordnung." This translates to "founder of municipal ordinance." Cast into the base of the neck are the stylized initials of the artist, "KF.� and �FEC." Below this are the Roman numerals MDCCCVIII, or 1808. Below that the artist's name again, "K. Fischer FEC. 1844." The top center portion of the medal is decorated with an intricate castle wall that has five towers. There is a central archway in the wall that is open through the design. The reverse exhibits a fine rendering of the crest of Nordhausen, with the wording, "Magistrat zu Nordhausen." At the base are the Roman numerals, MDCCCXXXI, or 1831, flanked by small decorative flourishes on either side, each having a small five-pointed star located above that.

Nordhausen is a city in Thuringia, Germany. It is the capital of the Nordhausen district and the urban center of northern Thuringia and the southern Harz mountain region. World War II brought much harm to Nordhausen: in the nearby KZ Mittelbau-Dora 60,000 forced laborers had to work in the arms industry and in April 1945, most of the city was destroyed by Royal Air Force bombings with 8,800 victims (more than 20% of the population) and the loss of most of the historic buildings, which made it the most destroyed city in Thuringia in WWII.

Nazi rule led to the destruction of the synagogue during the Kristallnacht in 1938. The Jews either emigrated or were deported to the death camps. The Mittelbau-Dora Nazi concentration camp, established in 1943 after the destruction of Peenem�nde, was located on the outskirts of Nordhausen during World War II to provide labor for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein. There were 60,000 forced laborers, of whom 20,000 died due to the bad working conditions, starvation and diseases. Furthermore, there were 10,000 forced laborers deployed in several factories within the city. 6,000 of them were interned at B�lcke Kaserne working for a Junkers factory.

Earlier on August 24, 1944, eleven B-17 Flying Fortresses of Mission 568 bombed the airfield at Nordhausen as a target of opportunity. On 11 April 1945, the Americans occupied the town and on 2 July, the Red Army took over. A special US operation, led by Maj. William Bromley, was meant to recover V-2 rocket parts and equipment. Maj. James P. Hamill coordinated the rail transport of said equipment with the 144th Motor Vehicle Assembly Company, from Nordhausen to Erfurt (Operation Paperclip). On 18 July, the Soviet administration created the Institute Rabe to develop Soviet rocket technology on the basis of the substantially more sophisticated V-2 rockets.

The city was declared open for looting for a couple of days by US-American command, due to the connection of the city with the nearby concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora. This is when the chain was most likely taken by US troops, according to Dr. Wolfram G. Theilemann, current director of the State Archives.
The good Herr Dr. Theilemann is presently helping me with further research and photographs, which I'll add when and if such material can be found in their records.

If anyone here can add further info or comments it would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks and good collecting to one and all ! wink

Bill

Nordhausen1sm.jpg (49.58 KB, 160 downloads)
Nordhausen2sm.jpg (58.54 KB, 160 downloads)
WWII #294419 02/02/2014 02:05 PM
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WWII #294420 02/02/2014 02:06 PM
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WWII #294429 02/02/2014 05:00 PM
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Bill- that is a stunning piece, congrats!

James

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James,

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the chain.

I did receive some additional information from the director of the Nordhausen Archives, Dr. Wolfram G. Theilemann, Leiter des Stadtarchivs, Stadtverwaltung Nordhausen.

"The chain as being shown in your pictures is consistent with the model for chains of office for mayors and magistrates of Prussia, as it is documented in an official drawing from 1848. According to the file, such a chain was ordered and worn by the mayor and perhaps also by Nordhausen magistrates after 1848 at the latest. Thus we do presume, that your chain appears to be the chain of office of the Nordhausen Lord Mayor.

It is also documented here, that the Lord Mayor of Nordhausen still in 1936 did have and use such a chain of office on notable events, e.g. on 07.04.1936 according to a picture from the �Allgemeine Zeitung� Nordhausen from 08.04.1936, welcoming some air force officers, stationed at Nordhausen. Also as late as 1943 with the inauguration of the new Lord Mayor Dr. Herbert Meyer the existence of such a chain of office (gilded or golden) has been used, according to our files.

Since 1945 the chain of the Lord Mayor of Nordhausen has been considered as lost, presumably taken by an US-American soldier or another person as prey in 1945, after the bombing of this city on April 3 and 4 1945 by the RAF and the occupation by US-troops afterwards. The city was then declared open for looting for a couple of day by US-American command, due to the connection of the city with the nearby concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora. Therefore, such a chain emerging now on the US-American market seems very likely to be the missing one."

I'm pleased to say that the city is interested in getting the chain back for their museum and that we are now negotiating the proper and best way to proceed. Looking forward to hearing from the Mayor's office this coming week and will keep the forum posted on how things progress.

The additional photos are of the original drawing for the chain and from the 1936 newspaper article mentioned above. The newspaper photograph is of Dr. Johannes Meister, NSDAP Oberb�rgermeister of Nordhausen, 1935 - 1942.

Good collecting to everyone!

Bill Warda

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Bill, smile
What a fantastic find and an extremely important part of history for this town as are all Chains of Office. You better believe they want it back. The history and tradition of these type chains as well as the other types we collect are so historically important and interesting to learn about from beginning to end and my favorite subject to research, study and learn about. Seems you and your name will always be a part of this town's history for now on. WOW!

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Mikee,

Thanks for your kind thoughts. I've seen several nice chains of office over the years but this is the first time I was lucky enough to find one for myself. wink

I'm curious to see what happens once the politicians get involved..? My father once told me, "Willi, never trust a politician. Look who my boss was ... Hitler!" grin

Will keep you posted.

Best!

B~

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Bill,
That's funny! lol. Probably the city lawyers and city council will have to approve agreements and funds. But should pass fairly quickly. Have seen some great chains as well but never have found one of these types. I wish!

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Fellow Collectors,

It's been several months since I posted finding the Lord Mayor's chain of Nordhausen, Germany. Dealing with the government on any level calls first and foremost for patience, no matter which country. The wheels of progress grind very, very slowly.

The city was not allowed to make purchases with normal funds alloted to run day to day business, they must have donors for additional money to procure items for their archives and museums. They also need time to draw up legal binding contracts, request letters of authenticity, photographs and detailed information about from where the item originated, present legal ownership, etc. At times the process seemed to drag on forever...

That being said, it was still a very worthwhile experience being able to return the chain of office to its original owners. Once they had the chain back in their posession there was plenty of local coverage in the press and television to herald the event. The festivities ended in late September with a presentation ceremony by the Oberb�rgermeister, Herr Dr. Klaus Zeh, held at the state museum, the Flohburg.

So in the end, one American took the chain and another American returned it.

Best regards!

Bill

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Nordhausenpresentation1.jpg (55 KB, 69 downloads)
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Bill, What a story and historical piece. This is what collecting is all about. PEOPLE, STORY, HISTORY. We seen to have less and less of this type of event as time goes on. Keep up the historical information and let`s see what else you can uncover. James

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Bill,
A happy ending for everyone! Now your a big part of their written history. If I'm ever in Nordhausen I'll stop by and see it.

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James & Mikee,

Thanks gents, glad you enjoyed my little story.

Best!

Bill


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