World War I


K- 294



(Blutsauger am Rhein)


1923, Cast bronze, Satirical medal, 61.0mm, 64.00g., Rim-punched, "K•GoeTz".


Obverse:  A crying baby lying on its back in a grapevine, his head to the left, with a large grape cluster below. Attached to the baby's left, lower chest is a gigantic, bloated, blood-sucking leech. In the field above the leech is the symbol for the French Republic. Inscription simply reads, "Blutsauger am Rhein", (Bloodsucker on the Rhine).


Reverse:  The German Michel is in a screw press which is being turned by the heads of two French soldiers. The few remaining coins are being squeezed from the Michel's pockets. Inscription, "Boches' fest ausgepresst" (The krauts are completely squeezed dry). Dated 1923. K•G is located at the top left and right of the coin filled exergue.


On May 6, 1921 the London ultimatum reduced the total reparations payments to 33 billion dollars, with the immediate payment of 1 billion gold Marks. The German government accepts this ultimatum to avoid the occupation of the Ruhr territory. In November 1922, Germany asks for a freeze of the payments for 3 or 4 years to stabilize the Mark and revive German industry and trade. This request was refused. The December 1922 conference of the Reparations Commission realized that the German Government was bankrupt. In January 1923 one American dollar would buy 10,000 marks and not the usual four German marks. This was the atmosphere in which Goetz created this medal.




Goetz successfully lampoons the harsh conditions of the 42 year reparation term by symbolizing the next generation (baby) of Rhinelanders (grapes) being sucked dry (leech) throughout their life.



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