The Orders and medals of Joachim von Ribbentrop
- Published: 15 April 2012 15 April 2012
- Last Updated: 15 April 2012 15 April 2012
by William C Stump
During the fierce and bloody battles fought around the world during W. W. II the victors in all battles always removed or took from the defeated foe his side arms, medals, or anything else of value the victor wanted. What was not taken immediately after the battles, the new P. O. W. probably lost anything else he had when he arrived for interrogation and processing at the P. O. W. camp or holding areas. The usual track of the captured enemy’s belonging usually started out from his person directly into the pocket of the field jacket of the victor. This has been true from the beginning of recorded history of armed warfare and American G. I. Perfected the art of “liberation”.
In the beginning, the value of the G. I.’s usual war booty was merely sentimental. It was his victory prize and for many a monitory value never played a part in their initial acquiring of their foe’s personal items. However, some war booty was priceless works of art from the standpoint of both the collector and historical value while the most was considered common battle field items such as a Luger, Mauser rifle, binocular, dagger, sword or helmet or decoration. Most would become less sentimental and quickly turned their war booty into cash after returning from the war. Enter the collector and dealer, but before he get into those fields lets look back at the exploits of one particular G. I. The setting was in early 1945, as the war was coming to an end, when one American Army officer not only added to his war booty, but probably set a record by discovering the most valuable treasure throve of valuable order and medals discovered during WWII by a single individual.
The American and allied armies were rapidly liberating vas area of Axis controlled territory. Howard Goldsmith, then a Captain in the 44th Infantry Division, was in the lead elements as the Division seized and occupied the lovely Austrian village of Umhausen. The division was exhausted and finding suitable billets was of foremost importance. The men had slept in the snow, mud and rain as they faced the elements for weeks and months on end. A clean and soft bed would be a welcomed site and it was in the luxurious Hotel Krone that Captain Goldsmith chose for him and his men.
As the Captain and his men entered the hotel the Austrian Innkeeper met them. He told Captain Goldsmith that he was sorry, but they could not stay at his hotel because it was forbidden for anyone to use the hotel and especially the 2nd floor was off limits to everyone. Captain Goldsmith was taken back at the words of the innkeeper and said that he had to hold his composure and initial instinct to just shoot the man right there on the spot, he pushed him aside and in a flash became the new Innkeeper of the Hotel Krone. Very inquisitive at what was so important on the 2nd floor, he and his men barged in and found that all the rooms were filled trunks, clothing, and countless personal items. Looking further he discovered that he had came across millions of dollars of art loot stolen by the Nazis from Parisian and many other museums through out Europe. The items included rare tapestries, gold and jewels, classic oil paintings, some by Ruben and Renoir.
As a result of interrogating the Innkeeper, it was discovered that he had been put in charge of storing and protecting the personal belongings of the Nazi Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop. It seems that the Foreign Minister was occupied elsewhere at this time, but was planning to return and make his escape across the Austrian Alps into Switzerland and take his stolen items with him.
The best part of the find came when Goldsmith came across file boxes upon file boxes filled with confidential Nazi governmental records. These records were later used in the Nuremberg war trials and helped send Ribbentrop to another destination other than Switzerland.
What caught Goldsmith eye came during the examination of the contents of the treasure hoard. He found a large custom-made leather box with the letter “G S M” ( State Foreign Ministry) engraved into the top of the box. Upon opening the box he found it filled will every order, decoration and medal that had ever been bestowed upon the Foreign Minister. Over 100 items were in the box and padded felt partitions kept the expensive and exquisite items protected from being damaged in shipping. Since these items were of no intelligence interest to the higher headquarters, and upon completing his inventory, he merely requested that he be allowed to keep them as war souvenirs. Ecstatic over obtaining so much valuable intelligence evidence and recovering the vast stolen art treasures he was granted official permission to keep the uniforms and medals as legitimate war souvenirs.
Captain Goldsmith wasted no time in getting the items shipped back home. He, being an officer and with official clearance to keep the items, simply boxed everything up and shipped it back to the states to his home in College Station, Texas. Upon arriving back home he had the items appraised and found that the value at that time was around $40,000.00. Many of the decorations were made of fine gold, silver, and some inlaid with diamonds and other precious stones. They had been awarded to von Ribbentrop by many foreign governments to include Hungary, Spain, Japan, Finland, Denmark, Italy, and Egypt to name a few. As per the uniforms and medals, Col. Goldsmith said, “Ribbentrop had no further use for the gala dress uniforms or decorative medals where he went”.
For many years after the war, Colonel Goldsmith proudly displayed the medals at various VFW and Veterans of Foreign War meetings. By the late 60’s American had moved on, the cold war was the biggest worry, and the Colonel put is treasures away. Not until my big mouth and the quick action of my late friend Jim Atwood did they become once again war booty par excellent and a young Kentucky hillbilly become the last owner of the orders and medals of the Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.
War booty hunter
Since I started collecting the years have passed, the world has turned over many times, and more war booty than I can remember has passed through my hands. As I live out my last few uncertain days on this earth, I have spent many hours reflecting back on my over 50 years of fascination with and collecting the tangible remnants of glory left on battlefields of past wars. The relics, left by scores of nations that have passed into history, tend to reach out as if to tell their story. Starting my collecting career in the early days of my youth, the late 1940’s, I temporarily left the collecting field as an active collector in late 1989 due to health problems and only came back into the wonderful arena of war booty collecting in September of 1998. I have continued searching for the one find that will be considered to be the greatest discovery in the field of war booty collecting. However, many old friends of mine, particularly Robert “Bob” Moses, Jochans Floch, and Darrell Ranney, fellow members of the Ohio Valley Military Society, informed me recently that I was wasting my time because I had already discovered more great finds than that any one collector could ever hope to discover. Alas, they are wrong, because the mark of a true collector is not so much as what he has found in the past, but that he never gives up the search for what he might find. The thrill of finding that undiscovered treasure still locked away in some war veteran’s footlocker or duffel bag is what keeps the true collector’s mind active. His mind is filled with the fascination that he will find something yet undiscovered that will satisfy the irresistible urge that drives him to search for that undiscovered relic of the past.
With each meeting of the OVMS, I enjoy meeting with my old friends and swap stories of the great finds each of us have made in the many years we have collected. However, when I returned to a regular meeting of the OVMS in September of 1998 had my “battery recharged” and started my research projects once again. It was at this meeting that my good and dear friends Johanas Floch, Robert Moses, along with his beautiful wife Linda, urged me to document some of the stories involving some of my more historical finds. I didn’t think anymore about this possibility until a few months later.
The Show of Shows, held each year at Louisville, Ky. and hosted by the OVMS, is without a doubt the greatest general military show of its kind held anywhere today. I had not attended one of these shows due to severe health problems since they were organized eight years ago. I had survived major medical problems, resulting in a heart transplant in 1996, and was privileged to attend my first Show of Shows this past February. I met again and traded war booty tales with my friends. It was Johans Floch who asked me not to only record my stories, but to make a video, because he said I was one of the last of my generation and my stories would be like “a time capsule” for future collectors.
To date, I have been told that I hold the record of acquiring the undisputed most historical and unique war booty treasure ever recorded in the field of orders, medals and badges of the Third Reich era. It probably ranks in the top five of the greatest finds ever recorded. Therefore, I wish to enlighten the new generation of collectors and bring back memories to the “old timers” in the collecting arena about the time in early 1968 when the great personal collection of orders, decorations, medals, and other personal property of Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s Foreign Minister, came into my possession. The story will also explain what makes it impossible to ever reassemble this fantastic collection as it was in 1968.
I must state from the onset that I was only the third, but last owner of the Ribbentrop medals collection. Even though I discovered the collection and the veteran who had liberated it and brought it back to the states in 1945 and made possible its sale, I was not the first owner. I brought the collection to the attention of one of the true pioneers of war booty hunters, my late friend, Lt. Col. James P. Atwood (Ret.) in 1967. Jim Atwood was undoubtedly one of the most experienced collectors of Third Reich war relics, specializing in daggers and edge weapons, in America by the time I first met him in 1965. His contacts were worldwide and he was the first to supply in record quantities many early dealers and collectors with war relics unknown and unobtainable in the U. S. at that time.
Even in the 1960’s original war relics were very difficult to obtain in any quantity. Dealers were always pressed to keep a steady supply on hand as the great demand seemed to increase yearly as collectors searched for the war relics that their fathers, brothers, and uncles had long since disposed of in the twenty years that had passed since they returned home. Only a limited few dealers were operating in the trappings of World War Two relics. Lenoard Babin, James Swickie, Fred Davis, Gary Krug, Bert Byerstead, Stephen Bumball, Fred Stephens, and Rolf Holbrook, to name a few, were some of the early collector/dealers that dominated the market during this period. Their suppliers were very secret, and they were located in heavily populated areas of the country and near military bases that provided an ever-increasing flow of veterans that kept their inventories well stocked.
Hand guns, medals, badges, and edge weapons were some of the most popular war trophies returning veterans brought back. There were so many different types, variations, and special issues of these popular souvenirs that most collectors didn’t know what they had only that they had different specimens. No reverence material was available to the collectors at that time like there is today. Enter, James P. Atwood and Third Reich memorabilia, particularly daggers, came alive to the collecting world.
Jim was stationed in Germany during the early days of the “Cold War.” He was an Army intelligence officer and made close contacts with his German counterparts and with the local Police. He was stationed in Berlin, but traveled all over Germany adding to his personal collection, compiling important factual information, and developing valuable contacts and suppliers of the now prohibitive relics of the once powerful Third Reich. He obtained countless rare and unknown daggers and swords and visited many war time manufactures of edge weapons. He said, “I got the inside tract early and play it to the fullest.” He purchased every dagger left in inventory after the war ended at the firms of Carl Eichhorn, W.K.C. Waffenfabrik, and Alcoso as well as many other lesser-known firms. His “inside connections” enabled him to bypass the strict laws forbidding the sale or display of any Nazi produced items after the war. It was at this time that he realized that not only could he assemble one great collection of daggers and swords, medals of every description, but that a great deal of money could also be made if he could get the material back to the states. Also he had to find a way to distribute the items on a large scale. One problem existed as Atwood was still on Uncle Sam’s payroll. He was spending many hours scouring Europe for relics and information for a book on the subject while on the Government time clock. This finally caught up with him when another officer, and collector who was in the process of writing a book on the subject himself, turned Jim in to his superiors and almost brought his career in the Army to a tragic end. That’s another story, best left untold, but it did contribute to Jim’s early retirement. On the positive side, the incident unknowingly set the stage for the creation of a legacy unsurpassed to this day in the field of war booty hunters.
The Ohio Gun Collectors Association was based at Columbus, Ohio, and was one of the largest gun collecting organization in the United States. The gun shows were where the early military collectors met, bought, sold and traded military relics. It was at a O. G. C. A. show, in 1965, when I first met James P. Atwood, and a friendship developed between us that spanned over thirty years until Jim’s unfortunate death in 1998.
At one of these meeting in 1967, I brought Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine that covered one of their national meetings. An article in the magazine mentioned that a retired U. S. Army Colonel by the name of Howard Goldsmith, residing in College Station, Texas, had displayed the personal medals and uniforms of Hitler’s Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop at the meeting. The article stated Col. Goldsmith brought the large collection back as war trophies after the war and it was valued at over $35,000.00. I took the article to Jim’s display table and we discussed the rarity of the collection and what a great find this had been for Col. Goldsmith. I vaguely remarked that when I got back home I was going to contact Col. Goldsmith to see if I could maybe visit with him when I was next in Texas and view first hand this great treasure. Jim stated that he sure would like to see this collection himself. Little did I know at the time that I would never get to see the Ribbentrop collection in the hands of Col. Howard Goldsmith? Also, little did I realize that in just a few short months I would be the proud owner of this fantastic collection which comprised many one of a kind decorations once possessed by one of Histories’ most evil villains who had worn these only a short twenty years earlier.
I was teaching it a local Junior High School in my Home County of Harlan, Ky., and had just arrived back home when my wife informed me that Jim Atwood had called earlier that afternoon. I immediately called Jim and what he said still rings ever so clear to this day. He said, “Bill, do you remember the Colonel in Texas who had the Ribbentrop medal collection?” I replied that I did and was planning to attend a Houston Texas Gun Show in the spring and was going to look him up. Jim laughed and said. “Don’t bother because I bought the whole lot.” To say that I was shocked would be putting it mildly. He said that he was debating what to do with the collection, but would let me know before he sold it, as he knew that many items in the collection would be of interest to me. He mentioned that he was going to possibly keep the collection, but knowing Jim as well as I did, I knew that the collection would be used to generate a lot of publicity for him and his now full time military relic business before it would be offered for sale. Also, I knew that I had only two chances of ever owning such a valuable collection on the salary of a schoolteacher, recently married and with two small children and a wife to support: slim and none. Again, I was to be surprised again as the clock ticked closer to 1968.
In late 1967, I received another telephone call from Jim and he informed me that he had taken color photographs of the collection and had sent me copies. He also mentioned that he had recently written a story entitled Treasure Hunt for W.W.II Million Dollar Medals and it had been featured in the November Issue of SAGA Magazine. Jim said that he had interviewed Col. Goldsmith and the story of how he obtained the medals was in this article. Rushing to the local newsstand I purchased a copy and could hardly believe my eyes at how beautiful the decorations were. I was amazed at how the U. S. Army Captain had stumbled across this great find and was able to get it back to America.
The color photographs arrived the next week and I was still in a state of awe as I viewed the orders and decorations in a much clearer view than was displayed in the SAGA magazine. I read Jim’s story many times, but didn’t comprehend its real purpose until I obtain another copy of the magazine over thirty years later and read the story again. In retrospect, I understand his reasoning for the article in a much clearer light than I did over thirty years earlier. Jim was an artist in the art of public relations and advertising. He held the medals back until the collecting world was made aware of the great historical significance this great collection and the collectors were “ripe for the picking.” I was “ripe” and wanted the prime of the “picking”.
Howard Goldsmith was a young Captain serving with the 44th Infantry Division which was assigned to the 7th Army. The division had landed in Southern France and fought bitter battles as they fought their way across France and into Austria. They were battle harden troops by the time they seized and occupied the Austrian village of Umhausen in early 1945. Upon entering the town, the problem of finding adequate housing for the exhausted troops became critical. Captain Goldsmith directed his men to seek shelter in the prestigious Krone Hotel. According Capt. Goldsmith he and his men were met by an arrogant innkeeper and bluntly informed that the men could occupy the hotel expect for the 2nd floor. According to the innkeeper it was already occupied and was off limits to anyone. Some of the troops wanted to simply gun down the innkeeper and take over the entire hotel. After all, they had been fighting for months against a determined enemy and now told that they were ”forbidden” to enter a place that would provided them with the shelter and rest so vitally needed was something that didn’t set well with troops or with their commander, Capt. Goldsmith. Goldsmith said that his first impulse was the same as some of his men, but decided that the innkeeper was so absurd in his attitude that he merely brushed him aside and took over the entire facility, 2nd floor and all.
Upon entering the “off limit area” on the 2nd floor they found the entire floor of room filled to capacity with a wide assortment of personal effects and trunks. They were filled with what turned out to be millions of dollars worth of art stolen from museums in France and other countries occupied by the Nazis. The treasure throve consisted of precious jewels, oil painting by renowned masters such as Rubens and Renoir, rare tapestries, and statues. Realizing what he had uncovered, Goldsmith notified Army Intelligence. Also in the rooms were countless record files of the Foreign Minister and other government records. So important were these that the prosecutors at the Nuremberg War Trials used them. Included in the items was a large leather box containing his personal decorations. The box the letter “G. S. M” etched into the top and was lined in soft brown felt with padded small petitions that could be used to separate the various decorations to prevent them from being damaged while in transit. Another trunk held dress uniforms and the personal dagger worn by von Ribbentrop. Ironically, Ribbentrop had planned his escape well in advance and even took the brass nameplate that adorned his office door in the Foreign Ministry and had it tucked away with his decorations. Ribbentrop has planned to escape over the Austrian Alps into Switzerland and picked these locations to enable him to have easy access to his treasure and to take it with him into exile and freedom. Alas, as Shakespeare wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go astray.” In the case of this nazi “Rat” Shakespeare was proved right.
Captain Goldsmith personally inventoried the entire 2nd floor and made a list on a small yellow note pad. He immediately realized the potential amount of information contained in the records and the immense value of the stolen art. His first task was to contact his superiors and they in turned contacted Army Intelligence. As a typical war booty collector, he seized upon the possibility of him keeping the personal items that had belonged to Ribbentrop. How he would get away with keeping these items was the next problem he had to face. Goldsmith, as he later told Jim and myself, said that “I proceeded to list everything my men and I had discovered, put the innkeeper under arrest. I then put the chest of medals and uniforms aside and out of sight and waited for the Intelligence boys to arrive.”
The superior officers of the 44th Division capitalized on Capt. Goldsmith’s discovery and before long the news had reached Division and then 7th Army Headquarters. When the items had been catalogued and ready to be shipped out for further analysis and safe keeping, Capt. Goldsmith made his move. He said to one of the Division commanders, “I found the medals and a couple of uniforms that belonged to Ribbentrop among all the items. Would you have any objection if I kept them?” Goldsmith stated that as he waited for an answer, and knowing that if anyone inspected the trunks of personal items he would probably not be permitted to keep these either, he held his breath and crosses his fingers. Being so elated at the enormous treasure, valued in the hundreds of millions, Goldsmith superior officer quickly told him that of course he could keep the medals and uniforms. Goldsmith quickly boxed up the items and shipped them home. By this time the war was winding down and thousands of troops sent souvenirs back home. Being an officer, Goldsmith didn’t face the scrutiny as would an enlisted solider and the items arrived intact and was waiting for him when he arrived back after the war.
After now Colonel Goldsmith arrived back home the war trunks remained virtually forgotten. However, as time passed Col. Goldsmith, now retired from the Army, settled in College Station, Texas and raised a family and became just another forgotten hero of that terrible war. But he never forgot about his “treasures” and on many occasions he displayed them at various veteran functions. He even made the collection a traveling display and labeled for identification each item as best as he knew how. One of his favorite displays was made shortly after arriving home. I wish I knew when and whom the beautiful army Sgt. was who posed with all the orders, medals, decoration and Ribbentrop’s dress dagger. Maybe I can find out and maybe it is best-left loss to history. In any event, Col. Goldsmith gave this picture to Jim Atwood and later Jim gave it to me. Jim and I both had copies made to give to other collectors. The photograph shows all the medals and decorations displayed on a table, with Ribbentrop’s dress dagger lying in the center of the display and the lovely Sgt. smiling proudly behind the table with Ribbentrop’s name plate resting above the dagger. (See Photo section.) It is interesting to note that Ribbentrop wore a standard Government Official’s dagger rather than the gold diplomatic dagger he could have worn.
By now you are wondering what made up this collections and why it was so valuable, not only from the historical standpoint, but from the actual material value. I didn’t know anything about foreign decorations and I was just building a collection of Nazi German medals, badges and decorations. I was a member of the Orders and Medals Society of America, The Ohio Valley Military Society, and was beginning to travel all over the United States searching for the items of my interest. A friend on mine, the late Gary C. Krug, was already a noted collector a dealer of orders and medals of the world. He was self educated and read every article at his disposal on the subject. Gary also had near photographic memory. At the time, he was the editor of the OMSA’s newsletter. He had been approached by Jim Atwood to appraise and possibly purchase the Ribbentrop collection. Gary was self-employed, living at home with his mother and was one of the most frugal persons I had ever met. Gary and I traveled to shows around the country and were friends. I called Gary and we discussed the possibility of jointly purchasing the collection from Jim as he now had decided to sell the collection and true to his word, he called and offered it to me first. Jim priced the collection to me at $20,000.00 but at that price only the medals were included. The dagger and uniforms were priced separately. Being greedy, I told him that I wanted everything. Jim said that if I could come up with one half of the money in 30 days and the balance in another 30 days, the collection was mine. Now the ball was at my plate and I was going to become one heck of a ball player or strike out very quickly. I was bringing home less than $400.00 per month on my teaching salary, and made almost that much dealing in firearms. I had a wife, two children, and good credit. The time was right for me to “fish or cut bait.” I knew I could possibly raise only $10,000.00. If Gary could come up with an equal amount were would be at first base. I called Gary and he said to contact Jim and we inform him that we would come up that weekend and finalize the deal. Harlan had three finance companies and I had an account with the Bank of Harlan. On the Thursday before I was to leave, I took out signature loans at each establishment, borrowed what I could from my uncle and parents and had only $9,400.00 in hand before I left.
Gary was deathly afraid to fly. He said that he would be leaving his home in Chicago, Illinois by auto early in the week. Knowing I couldn’t leave before Friday or I would miss school, I planed to leave and drive to Knoxville, a three-hour drive from my home, and catch an evening flight to Washington National airport on Friday. Gary was to meet my flight and we would proceed to Jim’s house and pick up the collection.
Jim always had a few extra cards up his sleeve, and when we arrived and inspected the collection, I found that not all the items were present. Jim didn’t know that I had been in contact with Col. Goldsmith and he had informed me that a cased pair of S. S. Cufflinks, a large bronze cased medallion from Italy, a cased “white enamel cross”, and were not shown in the original picture taken after the war. They were not in the pictures Jim had sent me. When I inquired about these items, Jim said that they were not included it the price of $20,000.00 Being born at night but not last night, I said that the deal was for everything in the collection except the silver Government Official dagger and the uniforms. Jim said that he didn’t understand the sale like that and I immediately told him that I wasn’t going to pay $20,000.00 unless I got everything except the uniforms and dagger. Gary, throughout the negations, was my “adviser”, not co-purchaser. He wanted to be the silent partner because of his position as an official and Editor of the OMSA Magazine. He said if his involvement with the purchase and ownership of the collection should become publicly known, he would be accused of unethical dealing. Since it has been over 30 years since the purchase of the collection and Gary is longer alive, the truth won’t hurt anyone. Also, after three weeks, I managed to pay Gary back for his investment and gave him one of the two rarest decorations in the collection for his assistance, that being the Italian Gold Order of The Most Scared Annunciation, valued at over $8,000.00 at the time of purchase. Gary Krug was always a sly old fox and knew how rare this order was. I have never regretted him picking out this decoration for I in turn took the Special Grand Cross in Gold to the Order of the German Eagle. This solid gold order was awarded only once and to Ribbentrop. It was as equally rare, but not valued near as much as the solid gold Italian order was, but to me it was more than worth its weight in gold and at the time priceless.
The entire collection consisted of the highest awards only issued to heads of state of foreign countries. The reason Ribbentrop had been given these awards instead of Adolf Hitler was Hitler’s refusal to accept any such decoration. The highest awards Hitler ever accepted were the W.W.I Iron Cross 1st class and the W.W.I Wound Badge of Imperial Germany. Of course, he always wore the Golden Party Badge of the NSDAP.
When the collection became the property of Col. Goldsmith, he only knew that he had the personal medals that had once been those awarded to Joachim von Ribbentrop. He also was aware that the material value was great and had been informed that the collection was valued in excess of $30,000.00. He never knew that some of the awards were one of a kind orders issued during the period preceding and during World War II. He knew that some were made of gold, silver and diamonds, but never fully knew what he possessed. (Note: at the time and even after the sale Col. Goldsmith never fully had knowledge of what each order and decoration was. James Atwood also didn’t know the national origin and true value of each item. Not until after I purchased the collection and Gary Krug researched each item did anyone up until that time know exactly what was in this collection?
When the collection was examined and researched, it was found to include the following:
1. German Third Reich Order of the German Eagle, the “Sonderstufe” or Golden Grand Cross set. Badge, Star and Sash; badge and star in gold. (3 pieces)
2. Italy - Order of the Most Sacred Annunciation “Annumnziata”, small collar set of the premier order of the Italian Monarchy, Badge, Collar and Star. (3 pieces) The collar and badge are in 18 CT. gold, Hallmarked by “Gardino/Roma”, the star is in silver and gold and is hallmarked. This was awarded in Berlin on May 22 CT. gold and was awarded in 1943. (3 pieces)
4. SAXONY DUCAL - The Ernestine House-Order, a special Grand Cross set with “swords on the ring”, so awarded only during the Nazi by the pro-Nazi Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Badge, Star and Sash. (3 pieces)
5. BULGARIA - Order SS, Kyril (cyril) & Methodius, the Grand Cross with small Badge, Star and Sash, and all in silver-gilt and enamel. Representations of the saints on the two badges were all hand-painted. Awarded in 1940. )5 pieces)
6. BULGARIA - Order of St. Alexander, complete Grand Cross. Badge, Collar, Sash Badge, Star and Sash. (5 pieces).
7. JAPAN - Order of Pawlonia or Rising Sun w/Pawlonia Leaves, Grand Cross Set of the highest honor for non-royal chiefs-of-state or officials of the highest rank either high military or civil personnel. Badge, Star and Sash (3 pieces). in silver-gilt and enamel and manufactured at the Osaka Mint. Awarded in 1940.
8. EGYPT - Order of Ismail, Grand Cross set. Badge, Star, and Sash. (3 pieces) Badge is gold and enamel and the heavy star is gold, silver and enamel and both pieces were Hallmarked.
9. ROUMANIA - Order of Carol I, Grand Cross Collar set, premier decoration of Romania. Badge, Collar, Sash Badge, Star and sash. (5 pieces) All in silver-gilt and enamel with gold centers. This set was awarded in 1942.
10. ROMANIA - Order of the Star of Romania, Grand Cross set of the order usually given to foreign recipients. Badge, star and sash (3 pieces). Silver-gilt and enamel and hallmarked.
11. DENMARK - Order of Danebrog, the special Grand Cross for Chiefs-of-State or high officials, wherein the star is set with diamonds. The badge is in gold and enamel, the star is silver with a gold and enamel cross all set with 14 diamonds totaling 3 carats, and full dress sash. (3 pieces). The star is marked “13”, hallmarked and awarded in 1941.
12. SLOVAKIA - Order of Prince Pribina Grand Cross set the premier order of this Nazi puppet state. Badge, star and sash. (3 pieces.) Badge in gilt and enamel, star is silver, gilt and enamel, and hallmarked. Awarded in 1941.
13. CROATIA - Order of King Zvonimir, Grand Cross set as was the premier order of this Nazi puppet state. Set consists of badge, star and sash. (3 pieces.) Badge in gilt and enamel, star is in silver, gilt and enamel and is hallmarked. Awarded in 1942.
14. SPAIN - Order of the Yoke and Arrows (These were the symbols of the Falangist Party.) Grand Cross Collar and Badge, all in gold hallmarked and proof marked. Badge if numbered “7” on the reverse. This was the highest Falangist award of the Franco Regency. (2 pieces.) Awarded in 1939.
15. HUNGARY - Order of St. Stephen, Grand Cross set, the highest award of the Admiral Horthy Regency government. Badge, sash and star. (3 pieces.) The badge is in gold and enamel, the star is in silver, gold and enamel, and hallmarked. The order continued the Austro-Hungarian (pre-1918) order of the same name and design. It was awarded in 1940.
16. HUNGARY - The Merit Order, Special Grand Cross with added distinction of the Holy Crown Order of St. Stephen (added to the pension). Badge, star and sash. (3 pieces.) The badge is in gold as is the suspension; the star is in gold, silver and enamel with the crown added to the center with golden rays. Awarded in 1938.
17. HUNGARY - Order of Crown of St. Stephens or Order of Holy Crown of Hungary, the Grand Cross with swords. Badge, Star and sash. (3 pieces.) This order was founded in 1942 in gilt and enamel. It was awarded in 1944.
18. FINLAND - Order of White Rose, grand Collar set with the old form of the collar having the Finish Swastika links. Badge, Collar, Star and sash. (4 pieces.) In silver-gilt and enamel. Awarded in 1942.
19. GERMAN THIRD REICH - the Order of Red Cross, type of 1937 - 1939. The Grand Star as the highest grade, in silver, gilt and enamel.
20. GERMANY - A large mounted group of 1914/1938 awards: Iron Cross 1914 on Combatant’s ribbon, 4th class of the Order of White Falcon of Saxe-Weimar, Oldenburg war Cross 2nd class, Hamburg 1914/18 War Merit Cross, 1914/18 Honor Cross for Combatants (founded in 1934), the 1938 Austrian Anchluss Annexation medal and the 1938 Sudetenland Annexation medal. (7 pieces on bar.)
21. GERMANY - A large mounted group of 1914-1918 awards: Iron Cross 1914 on Combatants ribbon, 4th Class Order of the White Falcon of Saxe-Weimar, Oldenburg War Cross 2nd class, Hamburg 1914/18 War Merit Cross, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha Ernestine House-Order with swords, 5th class, and 1914-18 Honor Cross for Combatants. (6 pieces mounted on wearing bar with brooch.)
22. GERMAN THIRD REICH - The Olympic Cross of Honor 1st Class neck badge in its original gold-stamped white presentation case.
23. GERMAN THIRD REICH - Cased silvered medallion for 1938 “Art Day”. The design is a larger scale representation of the small badge produced for this event.
24. GERMAN THIRD REICH - A special set of “S. S.” presentation cuff links. Dated 21-12-29 by engraving, “S. S.” proof marked and the designed “SS” was in a wreath on links facing medallion. Came in a special fitted presentation case of black leather.
25. TURKISH EMPIRE - The Turkish War Medal, commonly known as the “Gallipoli Star” by the British and the “Eiserne Halbmond” (“Iron half-moon”) by the Germans. Actually a 5-pointed star, lacquered red (as are the original Turkish issue pieces.) Later custom models made in Germany were red enamel.
26. ITALY - A very large heavy bronze cased medallion in deep relief for the Italian-German Alliance of the “Pact of Steel” in 1938.
27. DANZIG - The Honor Cross 1st Class, highest award of the City-State. A pinback in gold and enamel, hallmarked and in original presentation case.
The last time the fabulous medal collection of Joachim von Ribbentrop was ever assembled was when I took the items home and placed them on my dining room table. I used the now famous photograph that Colonel Goldsmith had of the collection displayed in 1945 after returning home from the war as a guide. I photographed the collection with Gary and I posing with the collection. The next day we broke the collection up and sold every item individually to collectors all over the United States. I was on a dead line to sell the collection to recoup the money and pay off my lenders. Fortunately, thing went well and the last of the medals were sold at the Orders and Medals Society Meeting held that year in San Diego, California. The rest is now history and one of the greatest collections of personal WWII medals and decorations ever assembled vanished into history forever. Today, I have my memories and photographs of the collection in color to remind me of time when I possessed for a brief time this great collection.
I know I will never see a collection like that of Jochim von Ribbentrop’s again in my lifetime. However, with a little luck you could catch the elusive “golden ring” on the merry-go-round that each collector rides in his quest to acquire the most historical trophy of wars long past. Remember, if a small time collector from the coal fields of Harlan County, Kentucky can accomplish such a feat, anyone can. You just need to be at the right place, at the right time, and a little luck on your side and you can catch that “golden ring”.