We recently acquired this very rare tunic (Litewka) from an important collection in Germany. In talking to the source he has never seen a tunic quite like this in its condition and being identified to a winner of the Knights Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern House Order. This was the second highest decoration awarded by Prussia. There were approximately 8,000 awards made and was often a pre cursor to the award of the Orden Pour le Mérite.
The original owner of this tunic was Major Otto Mensing. He was born in 1867 and entered military service in 1888 so at the end of WW I he was fifty-one years of age. We do not have a date of death but he did survive WW I.
He was assigned to the Marine-Infanterie during WW I. The Marine-Infanterie fought in Flanders and came from the expansion of the Navy See-Bataillones of which there were three prior to the war. The most famous was See-Bataillone Nr III which was based in China.
On 5 13 1915 he was attached to the V. See-Bataillone of the 1st Marine-Infanterie-Regiment and was promoted to Major. On August 1917 he was made commanding officer of the II. Coast Bataillone. He retained this command until October 1918 when he was assigned to the Staff of the I. Marine-Division. He went into retirement at the same rank on 31 January 1919.
Now to this glorious tunic which is in excellent condition. It is made of the highest officer quality Feldgrau wool. On the left skirt there is a small smattering of moth blooms which are not detractive to the overall presentation. It is a Litewka which means it has a double row of silver buttons down the center instead of a single row. Each has the Hohenzollern Crown. While being Feldgrau, it has a dark green collar. The collar tabs are white. We also see this white on the cuffs of the tunic but no additional buttons are present.
The shoulder boards are for a Major with a gilt crown of the Marine-Infanterie. The shoulder boards of the sewn in variety and have a white underlay. Each of the shoulder boards are secured by another silver button with the Hohenzollern crown. The shoulder boards are a work of art and some of the finest that we have seen.
The reverse of the tunic is pristine. The inside of the tunic has a Feldgrau silk lining. It is complete and in excellent condition. We see a tailor label for Wilhelm Voigt located in Magdeburg. We also see a label which attributes the tunic to Otto Mensing which is dated June 15, 1918. So this most likely the last tunic that he wore as he saw no front line service.
Returning to the obverse we see a vaulted, screwback 1914 Iron Cross 1st Class, which is in excellent condition. The final detail and perhaps the most important are a se of four ribbons for various decorations. Mounted over them is the device for the Knights Cross with Swords for the Hohenzollern House Order!
This is a superb tunic and would be a fine addition to any collection. Tunics of this type for the Marine-Infanterie are quite rare to say the least.