Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Blue Max


Fred W
 Share

Recommended Posts

Nige I guess it might because he was the head of the Luftwaffe - the great enemy of the RAF in the Battle of Britain. So having his uniform and awards would be like a war trophy.

But I could be wrong!

Tom

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goring was taken into custody by the Americans, and it was the Americans who 'appropriated' his personal possessions and baggage. The guy who is supposed to have snaffled Goring's medals and other choice souvenirs was Major Paul Kubala. There was no involvement by British forces, and certainly not the RAF. Goring's Luftwaffe Field Marshal's baton, one of his dress daggers and a pistol were formerly on display at the West Point Military Academy, but are now housed at the National Infantry Foundation Museum at Fort Bening.

Goring's ReichsMarschall baton:

artifact_baton_lrg2.jpg

For the intriguing story of the post-war adventures of Goring's 'liberated' medals, this 2002 account of years of research by the late W.C. Stump makes fascinating reading:

THE GORING SURRENDER MEDALS

Text © Copyright by W. C. Stump 2002

The story of the discovery of the Goring Surrender medals began for me when I was attending a small gun show in Louisville the late 1960’s. I was displaying my collection of the 1939 Iron Crosses. At that time I had a complete collection from the Iron Cross 2nd Class to the Grand Cross, also included in the collection was my first set of the Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. I was very proud of my collection and it was good advertisement for me and prompted many veterans and other collectors to bring war relics for me to purchase. On this particular day a gentleman walked up to my table and looked with great interest at my Iron Crosses. He told me that I had a fake example of the Grand Cross and bragged that he had Hermann Goring's original Grand Cross and all his medals. I let him know, in my usual tactless way, that I thought he was full of hot air and that I knew that Goring’s medals had been lost after his surrender to the allies. I knew this to be a fact because I had a friend who was employed at the U. S. Military Academy Library in the rare books and document section. I had visited the museum on numerous occasions and l knew that the Goring medals were on the top of the museum’s list of items that they had been searching for every since the end of the war. They had Goring’s Reichmarshall’s baton, his favorite dress daggers and the revolver he was wearing when he surrendered. I also knew that the main officer in charge of Goring’s interrogation was named Paul Kubala, who had denied having the medals when approached by the museum when they launched their quest to recover the items of the late Reichmarshall of the Third Reich. However, the man was very persistent and said that his father was one of the officers that processed Goring after he surrendered to the American forces in 1945. As he continued with his story a group of spectators gathered around to hear his story. I simply looked upon his story as a fabricated war story and his presence at my table a major distraction from my display. I rudely asked the man that if he had Goring’s medals to prove it because I thought he was just telling a wild story. The man said that he lived only a few miles from the gun show and would show me the original medals. He left and two hours later he came back holding a box of items and with a smirk on his face. He proceeded to put the items from the box on my table and I knew immediately that the man had been telling the truth. The first item he handed me was the most beautiful Pour Le Merite I had ever seen. Next was the Grand Cross, also the finest I had ever seen. The next badge that caught my eye was the Pilot Observer’s badge with Diamonds, the first example I had the pleasure of examining. I was immediately set aback at what I was seeing. The last medal in the box was the WI Iron Cross first Class with attached 1939 spange, also the most exquisite example I have ever seen. I was speechless and asked the man his name. He replied that his name was Peter Paul Kubala and that his father was Paul Kubala. Just at that moment a collector friend of mine came up and said that some idiot just sold Field Marshall Albert Kesserling’s baton to another friend for $50.00. Kabala angrily asked the man how much was the baton worth and my friend said hundreds of dollars. At that moment Kubala picked up his medals and said that he was the “idiot” who sold the baton and that everybody at the show were crooked and he would not sell anything else, let alone the medals. He left the show and took with the fabulous medals of Herman Goring. That was the last time I ever saw the medals assembled together.

After the show, I had a friend of mine, the late Ernie Lloyd, contact Kubala and see if he would sell the Goring Medals. Alas, Kubala said they were not for sale. Ernie left my telephone number with Kubala and I could only hope that he would contact me. All I could do was wait, but I immediately contacted my friend Ted Rich and informed him that I had located the Goring Surrender medals. Like wild fire the news of the Goring Medals and the Kesserling Field Marshall’s baton spread throughout the collecting community. I could see my chances of acquiring the medals diminishing by the day.

The next week I attended the Ohio Gun Collector’s Show held in Columbus, Ohio. My friend Bill Drollinger had purchased the baton and sold it to my old friend, and long time collector, Gary Walker. Everyone in attendance had heard the story about Kubala and the Goring Medals and many collectors had contacted Kubala in a vain attempt to acquire the Goring Medals. Little did I know at the time that I would have one final chance to acquire the medals.

KUBALA’S STIPULATION

Three weeks had passed since the Ohio Gun show and still I had not received any word from Peter Kubala. In the mean time, my friend Ted Rich had sent me all the information he had concerning the elder Kubala’s involvement with Goring and the other high ranking prisoners captured and sent to the Interrogation Center set up at Augsburg. I had given up hope of hearing from Peter Kubala when the phone rang late one evening, as I was relaxing after dinner. It was Peter Kubala and he informed me that he was sorry to have not made contact before now, but collectors had been "pestered" him daily trying to purchase the Goring medals. He dropped a few names and I knew he was telling the truth. I could sense a sales pitch coming, but what he said next was a complete surprise. He said that he knew that everyone he had met were just crooks looking to cheat him, including me. I almost told him what I thought of him and his attitude, but the mere possibility that I might be able to acquire the Goring medals overcame my hot temper and the hillbilly retaliation that I was normally known for displaying on occasions. He proceeded to say that he had been offered a large sum of money for the medals, but what he wanted was more valuable to him than money. It seems that years ago when his father returned from the war, he not only had Goring’s medals, but his solid gold watch as well. The watch had been given to the son with the medals and other war booty his father had brought back. However, according to Peter, when his father divorced his mother and left to make a new life with the French woman he had met during the war, he left with the gold watch as well. The incident, along with the natural traumatic loss of his father, seemed to have burned into the memory of the son for all these years. The medals he said meant nothing to him and if I could get his gold watch back the medals would be mine. He gave me the address of his father, now deceased, in Florida. He informed me to contact him if I could accomplish this task.

I immediately contacted my friend Ted Rich and informed him of my conversation with Kubala. We both realized that the search had now taken a near impossible turn. However, my sister was living near the Kubala home in Orlando and I made plans to visit her and try to contact Mrs. Kubala. I informed Ted that I would try to make contact with Mrs. Kubala as soon as I could arrange to travel to Florida.

As I looked through the material received from Ted earlier, I called Ted and said I would make one last attempt to acquiring the Goring medals from Peter Kubala. I would tell him if he didn’t agree to part with the medals that the truth that his father had lied would be made known. I would tell him that it wouldn’t look good on his father’s memory if the twisted tale and lies his father had told the museum proved him to be a liar and a thief. Ted said that it just didn’t look good for either West Point or myself ever getting the medals away from Kubala.

I immediately called and informed Peter of my plan stating that West Point would make it know that his father had lied to them about him not having the medals and was a liar. To my surprise, Peter said he didn’t care because everyone already knew his father was a liar and he could not care less what West Point or I wrote about him. He flatly said that if he didn’t get his watch that I would not get the medals. That was the last time I ever spoke to Peter Paul Kubala. I did visit the widow of Paul Kubala and failed to acquire the gold watch.

PETER SECRETLY SOLD THE GORING MEDALS TO AN OLD FRIEND IN THE EARLY 1970’S – SECRET KEPT FOR OVER 30 YEARS

Peter Paul Kubala retained the Goring Surrender Medals for all practical purposes. I was resigned to the fact that I had failed and would never see the medals again. Periodically over the following years I would be asked about them. Peter Kubala finally started telling people that he had sold them to me and told everyone to not contact him about them again. For me I looked upon my hard fought attempt to acquire the medals as just “another one that got away”. Little did I know that I would be holding the Goring Grand Cross again in less than a year and wouldn’t recognize that it was Kubala’s Goring Grand Cross.

About the same time the entire furor about the Kaubla items was foremost on my mind, I had been visiting a pioneer collector in the military field who was my dear friend and "American Mentor", Basil Harr, Dr. Klietmann being his German counter part. My old friend lived almost like a hermit near Bristol, Virginia, in a most unusual home that housed one of the world’s most extensive private collections from both W.W.I and W.W.II. Most people live in a home and have an area devoted to their collection. With Basil, now in his early 80’s, he hand built his home around his collection. He had secret panels, doors, and hiding places that only he knew how to open. The house was a museum that could be converted into a conformable dwelling at the touch of Basil’s finger. He lived alone in the large two-story house and his only companions were his two pet goats. He called them his "Watch Goats". I learned never to get out of my car without announcing my presence with my car horn. He didn’t have a telephone or even a T. V. set and when I wanted to visit I simply drove the two-hour drive from my home to his and he always welcomed me. On one of my earliest trips I forgot to blow my horn and was walking towards the steps leading to his front door when I found myself flying through the air and landing on the ground with a painful thud. Standing over me was one of the "Watch Goats" who had "Pearl Harbored" me. Fortunately, Basil came quickly to my rescue and I learned immediately what he meant by calling the goats his "Watch Goats". When he was present, they were the most docile creatures one could hope to see, always "mooching" a cracker or bit of candy. You could have brought the Hershey factory and be alone and all you would receive would be a resounding butt and begin flying without a license right there on the spot.

Basil was a most secretive collector and dealt primarily with European dealers. Only a very few major dealers had ever heard of Basil Harr and even fewer knew where he lived. That was the way he liked it and it was Basil who first contacted me by letter when a friend of his told him that I was a major collector and taught high school in Harlan. He invited me to visit with him and we soon became good friends. On my first visit he asked me never to invite anyone to visit him without his permission. I only took a couple of my close friends to meet him in all the time I knew him. Pioneer collector Paul Peters, of Cincinnati, Ohio, was one and thought that he had walked into a museum upon seeing just the surface of Basil’s interior. When Basil began to open the doors of his main displays, Paul knew for a fact that he had entered a museum.

On one of my bi-weekly visits, I entered his main living room and on the middle of the table was an item that immediately caught my eye. It was an astonishing example of a Grand Cross. Basil had a bad habit of polishing every medal he had and used a soft cloth and silver polish. He has just finished polishing the silver border of the cross as I drove up. It was resting on a small paper box and the wrapping paper was also on the table. He had just received it in the mail. I was so awe struck with the cross as bells began to ring in my head. I had seen a cross just like this one in Louisville in the hand of Peter Kubala. I immediately asked Basil where had he come by this great looking Grand Cross. He picked the box up and set it aside, grinned and said, "Bill this was Hermann Goring’s wearing cross". I again asked where it came from and again, he grinned, and I can almost see the delight in his eyes today after 30 years as he replied, "Now Bill, I can’t tell you all my secrets now can I?" That was the way Basil was and I knew the cross had found a home because Basil never traded or sold anything, just bought and bought everything he could get his hands on. I pointed out the most unusually large and solid cravat the cross was hung from. In 1969, I didn’t have the knowledge I have now and really didn’t think it was all that important then as I do now 30 odd years later. I also knew that I could look at it, or even take it home to study and photograph if I simply asked Basil’s permission. For some reason, Basil never showed me the other Goring medals and I actually thought that this was just another Grand Cross and not the one I had seen in Peter Kubala’s possession despite it looking exactly like the Kubala Grand Cross.

Upon arriving back home that evening, I called Ted Rich and informed him of my latest visit with Basil. Ted had been interested in some of the items that Basil had and I had photographed them and sent the photos to him to inspect. Basil had been dealing with a character by the name of Charles Kingston and Ted Rich was working on exposing this charlatan for what he was: a prime crook and forger. Kingston was also one of the best fakers of Third Reich daggers to ply his evil art in those early days of the 60’s and 70’s. As soon as I mentioned seeing a "Himmler Honor Sword" in Basil’s collection, Ted immediately told me what it looked like and read the inscription that was engraved on the blade to me. I was astounded and told Ted that a sword as he described was in Basil’s collection. Ted informed me that he thought the sword and some of the other daggers Basil had were in fact forgeries. He asked if I could bring the items up for him and the museum staff to inspect when I next visited West Point. I agreed and arranged with Basil to take the requested items with me to West Point. Ted wrote Mr. Harr requesting permission to inspect and view the items when I next visited West Point. Basil agreed and a week or so later I left Knoxville, Tennessee, by plane to stay for a few days at West Point. I took the items and arrived in New York City in the midst of the greatest snowstorm to hit the state in over 50 years. By the time I arrived at West point from New York City by bus, I was about to warm up the collecting world and help expose a major faker all on this one trip. Unknown to me, I was carrying the original Goring Surrender Grand Cross and never found it out until thirty-one year later.

The West Point Library had received an unpublished manuscript from an U. S. Army Colonel. The manuscript was compiled in 1964 and was a work of fiction. Not to embarrass the Colonel who was duped, I will not release his name because at the time I gave my word to Ted and the Library staff that I would keep all names confidential except the name of "Charles Kingston." To the best of my knowledge it now resides in the Rare Books and Document files never to be made public.

The Daggers all turned out to be Kingston fakes the Himmler sword and H. Wick’s Luftwaffe presentation sword included. However all the rest of the items (I have the original photographs that I took of all these items in my files to this day.) Unfortunately no photographs of the Goring Grand Cross are available and are lost to history due to a devastating flood that destroyed 75 % of my written files in 1976. However, Ted was so taken with the Grand Cross that he wrote Basil after I had returned it to him. Basil told him that it was indeed the original cross Goring was wearing when he surrendered and he had the other medals that Goring had once owned at the time of his surrender. Ted took 31 years to tell me about this correspondence. He realized at that time Basil Harr had come to own what I had worked so many months to acquire. He was the new owner of the medals Peter Paul Kubala owned. Maybe both Ted and Basil just didn’t want to hurt my feelings after all the time and money I invested in my quest that had ended in failure. This will for now remain part of the mystery, but maybe Ted can answer this question at a later date.

Determination always keeps the inquisitive detective on the job. I am like the proverbal elephant; I never forget. I had resigned myself many years ago that I would never acquire the Goring Medals. Had Peter Paul Kubala sold them to any collector the world would have soon find out. When no such word was forth coming I knew that either Kubala still had them or had sold them without his fathers connection. Both were not logical thoughts, but I could think of no other reasonable deductive conclusion to make. Not until November of 2000, when I read Christopher Ailsby’s story about his Campion/Goring Diamond Pilot Observer’s badge did I immediately know that Campion’s badge was not Goring’s badge. That is why I investigated the Campion story and went to the trouble to acquire the information from the RAF Museum to prove the point to Chris Ailsby, the collecting world and myself. If Steve Previtera had not been reading the forum posts and called me and informed me that my long lost friend Edward P. Rich had written him, the story would have not been told. Ted mentioned to Steve the Goring medals, and our West Point days together trying to track them down as well as the elusive gold watch. Upon contacting Ted after all these years I have been able to tie all the loose ends together to put finality to the Goring Surrender medals story.

The end came long ago when shortly after I returned the Grand Cross to Basil Harr I received a telephone call from a friend who lived in Bristol and he informed me that Basil’s home and his entire collection had been destroyed by fire. Only a few items that he had let a friend borrow were spared the flames of destruction that destroyed in a short few minutes what took Basil a lifetime to accumulate. Basil lived only a short time after the fire. I sadly never met with him again and I hold only fondest memories of a true gentleman and the epitome of a true collector.

Ted informed me that he was sure that Basil had come across the Goring Surrender Medals and acquired them directly or indirectly from Peter Kubala. Whether he bought them directly from Peter Kubala I can’t verify, but the time period corresponds with Kubala revealing the medals to me. Basil Harr didn’t appear to be a rich man, but he lived comfortably. He always had funds to purchase anything he wanted, so I have no doubt that he paid who ever had the medals a hefty sum. He had many close friends in the collecting community who supplied him tips and information concerning high quality items that were on the market. I have no doubt that Basil heard about the Kubala items soon after the news broke that he had them. Finally, no sooner did the embers cool enough to allow the scavengers to pilfer the ruins of Basil’s home did the vultures converge on the hot ruins. With garden rakes and shovels they carried off fire damaged items. Basil had two 1939 Grand Crosses and one survived in very damaged condition. I never knew if it was the one I took to West Point. It was sold to a major collector on the East Coast and has never surfaced to this day. Some of his daggers and swords were salvaged and sold also. Sadly they were fakes and no real value was lost except to Basil. I never told him his Kingston Daggers were fakes. I thought it best to let the old fellow enjoy them in the twilight of his life. Sadly, when the embers died so did the spirit of Basil Harr.

I am satisfied that the Goring medals taken from him in 1945 were lost to the flames that destroyed the famous Basil Harr Collection. I am now satisfied that my investigation can finally be closed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the Pour le Mérite is inscribed, there is presumably only one 'original', but I would suspect that someone as vain as Göring possessed more than one example of the medal.

Photo shows Göring on the day of his surrender to the Americans in Bavaria in 1945. I'm not a medals person, but the medal at his neck looks like his super-size Iron Cross rather than the Pour le Mérite.

post-11021-1192525503.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the Pour le Mérite is inscribed, there is presumably only one 'original', but I would suspect that someone as vain as Göring possessed more than one example of the medal.

Indeed - and as the W.C. Stump account indicates, Goring had more than one example of his unique award of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross including a 'wearing' version. So as you say, it wouldn't be surprising to find that the same applied to his Pour le Mérite. Whilst all would be extremely collectable, the one that would really count would be the one he was actually originally presented with in the Great War.

ciao,

GAC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Note that West point had and has examples of goerings medals-but many were purchased from Dr. Kleitman (apparently) in the early 1960s. The receipts are apparently still in their archives.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Note that West point had and has examples of goerings medals-but many were purchased from Dr. Kleitman (apparently) in the early 1960s. The receipts are apparently still in their archives.

That's interesting! William C. Stump mentions Kleitman, of course, in the article I posted earlier - rating his 'American mentor' Basil Harr as being on a par with Kleitman in the medal collecting world. It's strange then that Stump doesn't mention any Goring medals acquired by the Point from Kleitman when he took Harr's Goring Grand Cross there - were they kept under wraps at that time even from a collector of Stump's stature, I wonder? Do you happen to know if a Pour le Mérite was amongst the Goring decorations invoiced to the Point by Kleitman? I wonder, too, if any decorations from that source have now also been moved from West Point to the National Infantry Foundation Museum at Fort Benning along with the Goring baton?

Out of related interest, here's a potted bio of Dr. Kleitman posted by none other than the late W. C. Stump himself on the Axis History Forum a few years back:

Dr. Phil. Kurt-Gerhard Kleitmann. His lifetime work resulted in the formation of his "Institute for the Scientific Research Study of Orders and Awards". The Institute housed a vast amount of information dealing with orders, medals and decorations of the world. His worldwide recognition came from his many books, articles and opinions he wrote during a span of over 45 years. He was an honorary member of numerous collecting associations to include the prestigious Orders and Medals Society of America. He was even bestowed the honor of the German government Service Cross of the Bundesrepublic of Germany.

ciao,

GAC

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tom,

The RAF Museum confirm that they do not have Goering's Blue Max. They do have a set of official medals and decorations issued to him and acquired by a collector in London in 1947 or 48.

Fred

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...