"Jerusalemkreuz" – Decoration Awarded to Members of the Entourage of Kaiser Wilhelm II on his Visit to the Holy Land – With a Miniature Copy of the Decoration / Plaque Commemorating the Kaiser's Visit

Opening: $15,000
Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000
Sold for: $18,750
Including buyer's premium

Official decoration bestowed upon members of the entourage accompanying Kaiser Wilhelm II on his visit to the Holy Land, along with a miniature copy; and a plaque created on the occasion of the Kaiser's visit. Germany, 1898.
• "Jerusalemkreuz" ("Jerusalem Cross") decoration, made of silver inlaid with red enamel (with red ribbon attached). At center is the Imperial German Crown along with the Inscription "IR [the Kaiser the King) WII [Wilhelm II]". On the back is the date of the inaugural ceremony of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, October 31, 1898, in Roman numerals. Partly gilt.
The decoration was given to members of the Kaiser's entourage – court officials, guards, and escorts – upon their arrival with the Kaiser in Jerusalem. According to an account given by one of the members of the delegation, Mathilde von Keller (1853-1945), on the night of the inauguration of the Church of the Redeemer, the Kaiser arrived at the tent camp where all the escorts were staying, and went from one tent to the next to personally deliver the decoration to each individual involved. This was one of only three decorations issued by Prussian Germany that recipients were legally required to wear as part of their official uniform.
Enclosed is a miniature of the decoration – a copy identical in every detail to the original decoration, intended to be worn in place of the original full-size decoration. Such miniatures were specially commissioned and created – usually by the same silversmith responsible for the original – so as to enable the wearer to use them as substitutes and thus protect the original from harm. The present miniature comes with its original chain, and with pins for attachment to the garment. In imperial Germany, such chains, known as "Miniaturkette, " were used for displaying miniature medals.
Decoration: 37.5 mm. Miniature: 16 mm. Blemishes and losses to enamel. Housed in box lined with padding.
• Commemorative plaque in honor of the Kaiser's visit. Recto: Portrait of the Kaiser, with the inscription "Wilhelm II Deutscher Kaiser"; above this, date of the inauguration of the Church of the Redeemer. Verso: Depiction of the Church of the Redeemer, shown borne on a branch sprouting from a coffin and a pitcher of ashes, along with the inscription "Erloeserkirche zu Ierusalem." An additional part in the upper margin of the plaque shows an Oriental city with domes and towers with the Imperial German Crown at center (the city is seen on both sides of the plaque, whereas the Crown appears only on recto). Marked: "O. [Otto] Rohloff", Berlin.
Housed in original box, with a concavity for the plaque to rest in, and a gilt impression of the Imperial German Crown.


Approx. 107X60 mm. Good condition. Blemishes and stains to box.


Kaiser Wilhelm II's Journey to the Orient

Through the months of October-November 1898, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and his wife, the Empress Augusta Victoria, toured some of the major cities of the Ottoman Empire, with Jerusalem being the most important of the destinations. The journey took place at a time when the impending and anticipated disintegration of the Ottoman Empire was hovering in the background, and a struggle between the European powers over the "spoils" – the assets of the so-called "Sick Man of Europe" – appeared likely to ensue in the near future. The journey went on for more than a month. Chief among its goals were the strengthening of ties between the German and Ottoman empires and the encouragement of Christian settlement in the Holy Land. Among the places visited by the Kaiser and his entourage were, in addition to Jerusalem, Athens, Constantinople, Haifa, Jaffa, Ramle, and Cairo.
Preparations for the Kaiser's visit to Jerusalem had already begun in the summer of 1898. These included a massive municipal clean-up, the improvement and overhaul of infrastructure, the laying of a telegraph line, and other operations. In time for the Kaiser's arrival in Jerusalem, a number of municipal roads were widened. The authorities went as far as breaching a gap in Jerusalem's Old City Wall, adjacent to Jaffa Gate, to enable the smooth passage of the Kaiser's opulent carriage. In addition, the city streets – most notably HaNevi'im Street, where a special tent camp for the Kaiser and his entourage, the "Camp Imperial, " was to be temporarily constructed – were adorned with the flags of Germany and the Ottoman Empire, and with makeshift, portable ceremonial gates.
One of the main highlights of the Kaiser's visit to Jerusalem was the inaugural ceremony of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. The Kaiser also visited the German Colony, the Mt. of Olives, City Hall, and other sites. From a Jewish standpoint, undoubtedly the most historically important event on the Kaiser's itinerary was his hastily arranged meeting with Theodor Herzl.
Throughout their visit, Wilhelm and the Empress were accompanied by a small entourage. The Kaiser rode either on horseback or in the imperial carriage. Following in the footsteps of his immediate entourage in Jerusalem was a parade of lesser-ranked officials, accompanied by cavalry regiments and "kawas" officials – ceremonial Ottoman-Empire bodyguards.
The Kaiser's mission was documented in its time in hundreds of books and articles, and commemorated on playing cards, board games, and souvenir cards – collector's items – featuring Holy Land landscapes. But beyond a doubt, the quintessential commemorative souvenirs of the visit were the numerous different postcards, many of excellent quality, printed specially for the occasion; an astounding number of publishers – some 350 of them, from Germany and other countries – began publishing postcards commemorating the journey on a historically unprecedented scale. Major publishers such as Vogel, Silbermann, and Knackstedt-Näther went as far as presenting stamp and postcard collectors with a special offer; in exchange for a fixed fee, subscribers would be rewarded with postcards from all the various cities the Kaiser visited, postmarked and mailed on the very day he actually made his presence in the city in question.

Category
Zionism, Eretz Israel, Autograph Letters from Notable Personalities