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eMedals-Germany, Imperial. The Pour-le-Mérite with Oak Leaves, to Hugo Gottlieb von Kathen, Commander of the 74th Infantry

Item: G38893

Germany, Imperial. The Pour-le-Mérite with Oak Leaves, to Hugo Gottlieb von Kathen, Commander of the 74th Infantry



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Germany, Imperial. The Pour-le-Mérite with Oak Leaves, to Hugo Gottlieb von Kathen, Commander of the 74th Infantry

The group includes the Pour-le-Mérite awarded to von Kathen on the 28 August 1916 as well as the oak leaves received on the 27th of August 1917. (Orden “pour le mérite” mit Eichenlaub). Instituted in 1870 by Friedrich II. (In Gold With Oak Leaves Issued 1813-1915). A finely enameled blue Maltese cross set in Gold with eagles in between each cross arm, the obverse presenting the crown and cypher “F” for Friedrich on the top cross arm, “Pour le Mérite” (“For Merit”) reads across the left arm to the right and ending on the bottom arm, the reverse presents blue-enameled cross arms and eagles between each quadrant, exhibiting the manufacturing characteristics of the manufacturer Wagner, Berlin, measures 52.75 mm (w) x 52.87 mm (h), weighs 17.74 grams, the cross presents a minor chip in the centre obverse and a flake in the centre reverse, on suspension ring carrying the Gold oak leaf affixed loose in the so-called baroque eyelet, with an original piece of black ribbon with three silver stripes about 20 cm in length, this uncleaned original badge shows wear and some aging from the early years of World War I, and is in overall very fine condition.


Accompanied by two Imperial gifts, likely presented to von Kathen by Wilhelm II. A set of cufflinks, in Gold with stones affixed to them (possibly diamonds and rubies), reverse presents the engraving of the number “465696." Also accompanied by a silver cigarette case made by Sy & Wagner of Berlin, the interior is gilt and shows the maker and silver content “937” on the inner rim, the push button to open the case is made from a light blue sapphire, the obverse shows an embedded ruby and the blue enamelled signature of Crown Prince Wilhelm, the case comes in a maker marked suede leather casing inside a lilac coloured velvet case by Sy & Wagner, featuring the Prince’s crown.


This grouping is accompanied by an Authentication and Appraisal document provided by Medalnet Appraisal Services, dated 13 September 2018, signed in ink by Andreas M Schulze Ising and Bernd Kruse.

Footnote: Hugo Karl Gottlieb von Kathen was born on August 27, 1855 in Freienwalde (present-day Chociwel, western Poland). His ancestors were merchants from the city of Stralsund (northeast Germany) who became Swedish nobles in 1692. His father was the Prussian Major Karl von Kathen (1803–1876). Kathen joined the Prussian army himself in 1873 as a Second Lieutenant. He served in the Kaiser Franz Guard Grenadier Regiment 2 in Berlin, interrupted for a few years when receiving further training at the Prussian War College. In 1886, he joined the German General Staff. Kathen was promoted to Hauptmann (Captain) in 1888 and became the commander of the 3rd Guard Regiment on Foot. In early 1893, he was redeployed for service in the Ministry of War, and towards the end of the same year he was promoted to Major. Kathen then relocated to the southwest of Germany to briefly command the 1st Battalion of the 1st Baden Life Grenadier Regiment No. 109 in Karlsruhe, before being promoted to Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) and serving on the Staff of Füsilier Regiment “General-Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (Hanoverian) No. 73. Between 1904 and 1907, Kathen commanded the 1st Hanoverian Infantry Regiment No. 74. He became governor of the city of Mainz in 1912 and was promoted to General der Infanterie in 1914. Due to being an excellent tactician, Kathen was appointed commander of the 39th Division upon the beginning of the First War. He saw action at the Aisne river and in the First Battle of Ypres. In December of 1914, Kathen became the commanding General of the 23rd Reserve Corps with which he stayed for almost the entire war. On August 28, 1916, he was awarded the Pour le Mérite for distinguished leadership of his corps in Flanders since 1914, especially for his role during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. He continued to fight on the Western Front until the summer of 1917, seeing action in the Battle of the Somme and in the Champagne region, before being redeployed to the Eastern Front. Stationed in Zolochiv near Lviv (western Ukraine), Kathen and his corps initially were in the defensive, but soon attacked and broke through Russian lines, repulsing the enemy deep into their own territory. During this operation, Kathen was able to take the city of Ternopil (Tarnopol). For his role during these successes, he was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Pour le Mérite on August 27, 1917. Afterwards, Kathen took part in the Battle of Jugla which resulted in the taking of Riga (Latvia), and was then an instrumental part of the successful Operation Albion, the attack on the Estonian islands Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, and Muhu. Shortly after this, Kathen and his corps were redeployed to the Western Front again, fighting in the Battle of Cambrai. In 1918, Kathen saw action during Operation Michael and the Second Battle of the Marne. In the summer, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the 8th Army, stationed in the Baltic region. As such, he retired from active service in December of 1918. Kathen died on April 2, 1932 in Wiesbaden.


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