If you have an interest in document groups, we have something special for you. If you have an interest in observation balloons and zeppelins, this wonderful group is VERY special for you. The number of documents it contains is absolutely staggering, and will enable you to track and research almost everything the man ever did. His name was Werner Eugen Möschke. He was born in 1881, then first entered the army at the dawn of the 20th Century. The document group indicates he saw early service in Nassau Field Artillery-Regiment Nr 27. After completing his mandatory two years of military service, Möschke began his post high school (called “gymnasium” in Germany) studies, eventually becoming a mechanical engineer. The group contains many documents from this period, including some confirming his graduation and his qualifications as an engineer.
When WW I broke out, Möschke found himself in a Luftschiffer-Bataillon as a Leutnant der Reserve. Luftschiffer-Bataillons included the observation balloons that were launched from mobile units to spy on enemy positions and call in artillery strikes, which was his assignment. Later he was transferred to the Luftschiffer-Bataillon’s zeppelin section. He finished the war as a Hauptmann der Reserve. Our document group provides definite proof that he did indeed serve with a zeppelin unit, although I am unable to determine if he was onboard as a zeppelin commander or if he was a unit commander. [Please note: in 1917, the Imperial German Army decided it was no longer interested in fielding Luftschiffer-Bataillons. So, the Army turned over all its airships and zeppelin-related equipment to the Kaiserliche Marine, including (perhaps) some transfer of personnel].
Möschke returned to his peacetime profession when WW I was over. In the 1930’s, however, he returned to the army, where he eventually achieved a major’s rank. The group’s consignor has included several typed papers containing translated information concerning some of the documents, including his war service. These papers indicate that he served as a member of the executive committee for a military reporting office in Freiburg during WW II. Photos from the group show him wearing the very rare Army Commemorative Airship Badge, which further documents his involvement with zeppelins as well as an observation squadron.
We are listing some of the group’s military-related documents below. Some of them detail his various assignments during the Great War.
Above all, they show some of the more important and costly battles in which Möschke was involved.
1) 1907 Artillerie Officer’s Patent.
The same type of patent was used whether its recipient was a Leutnant or a Generalmajor. The only real difference is that junior officer’s Patents were not signed by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Prior to WW I, the Kaiser had personally signed Patents in the rank of Hauptmann and above. Due to the Imperial German Army’s size, however, as the war progressed, he signed far fewer Patents, perhaps only for Majors and above.
2) Award Document for the Long-Service Award 2nd Class. Dated March 1914, it was issued through the XVIII Armeekorps.
3) Award Document for the Iron Cross 2nd Class. It is dated August 1917.
4) Award Document for the Ernst Ludwig Allgemeines Ehrenzeichen für Tapferkeit.
He was awarded Hesse’s Iron Cross 2nd Class equivalent in 1915. The very ornate document bears the Grand Duke of Hesse’s signature. Möschke probably was a native son of Hesse to have received its award so much earlier than the Imperial Iron Cross 2nd Class he later was awarded.
5) Enlisted Man/NCO’s Militärpaß and Soldbuch. This dates from his two-year mandatory service.
6) Two Kriegsranglisten.
These documents were used by officers, much as an enlisted man and NCO used a Militärpaß. Each contained all of their owner’s critical information about his rank, promotions, areas of service with dates, awards, and so on. They are excellent sources for research. They indicate that he saw service in the battles of Verdun and Ypres. One of the two was updated in 1935 when he once more re-entered the army.
7) Hindenburg Cross with Swords for Combatants Award Document. The document is dated 1935.
A number of military-related documents date from 1935 forward. Following WW II, Möschke went through the de-Nazification process where he was deemed not to be a hard-core Nazi threat. He again returned to engineering, although the papers indicate he had health problems that stemmed from his many high-altitude flights. He died at the age of 73.
We have barely scratched the surface of what is contained in this fantastic document group. We have never offered anything as extensive as this group! Möschke took great pains to retain the many documents that related to his military and professional life. Stacked up, the group measures some two-to-three inches in height! Frankly, the group is mind-boggling.
You will have hours of fun pouring though all of these documents and learning more about a man who served his country through two world wars. Please be ready for the large number of photographs attached to our entry. In this case, a picture IS worth a thousand words!
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