Peter McBride comes from Middlesborough in Cleveland. His first foray into detecting began in 1996 when he bought himself a Bounty Hunter for searching beaches and local playing fields.
During this time he found something very interesting and most unusual – a German medal, dated December 1938, complete with a facsimile of Hitler’s signature. With most great finds the question, ‘I wonder how it got there?’ often asked by detectorists is particularly intriguing in this instance.
What Peter had found was a Bronze 3rd Class Mother’s Nazi Cross, part of a Nazi propaganda campaign to increase the birthrate. The party glorified starting a family and having children so awarded the medal to any German mother having four or more children. For producing eight or more children they received a gold cross and for six to seven, silver. A motherhood cult was born, and contraception was banned. A wartime slogan said it all, “I have donated a child to the Führer.”
The cross was awarded to ‘genetically fit, politically reliable, and socially worthy’ German mothers. In 1939 about 3 million women qualified for the honour. They also enjoyed financial privileges and preferential service when shopping, but these could be revoked if she neglected her children, cheated on her husband or transgressed in other ways. I wonder how many Germans had Adolf Hitler as a Godfather? For exceptional fertility he would do the honours for any tenth child in a family!
Faith and Beauty
“On 12 August 1938, Adolf Hitler instituted the Mother’s Cross, to encourage German women to have more children, to be awarded each year on August 12, Hitler’s mother’s birthday.
The German Reich needed a robust and growing population and encouraged couples to have large families. It started such encouragement early. Once members of the distaff wing of the Hitler Youth movement, the League of German Girls, turned 18, they became eligible for a branch called Faith and Beauty, which trained these girls in the art of becoming ideal mothers. One component of that ideal was fecundity. And so each year, in honour of his beloved mother, Klara, and in memory of her birthday, a gold medal was awarded to women with seven children, a silver to women with six, and a bronze to women with five.” History Channel
Bill’s Remarkable Find
Bill Clark (aka Metal Illness) on the American TreasureNet forum tells me that he found a silver version of the Mother’s Cross in Ohio just across the street from where he lives. His neighbour Charlie, whose house was built in 1908, allowed him to detect the yard.
He had no idea of what he had found, but he was pretty sure that the word ‘mutter’ meant ‘mother’ in English. After a little research – with the aid of Mr Google – he was amazed at what he had discovered.
Charlie said that it didn’t belong to them and they didn’t have any family with German connections. So, how this piece of Nazi propaganda from Germany ended up in SW Ohio remains a mystery.
Thank you to Peter and Bill for allowing me to feature their fascinating finds in my blog
Adapted from a small item originally published in The Searcher magazine