German Lusitania medallions

medallion with German inscription showing a skeleton overlooking a sinking ship

Accession number MMM.2004.142.1

The image above is of a German medallion from a series produced by Walther Eberbach, 1916, called Totentanz (‘Dance of the Dead’). It shows Death as a skeleton looking at the sinking Lusitania. 

Below is a second German edition of the Lusitania medallion by Karl Goetz of Munich. Following his realisation that the original medallion bore the incorrect date ‘5 Mai 1915’, Herr Goetz quickly produced a second medallion to rectify this mistake. This version, shown in the second image on this page, clearly reads ‘7 Mai 1915’.

The original German version was produced only in Germany to mark the sinking. The fact that he got the date wrong enabled Britain to use it as anti-German propaganda to imply that the attack on Lusitania was premeditated. Around 300, 000 British copies were made on the instructions of Captain Reginald Hall, RN, Director of Naval Intelligence and were widely distributed to strengthen this belief. Goetz produced this second version with the correct date but the Allies had already made full use of his mistake.

medallion with a German inscription showing a sinking ship

Accession number MMM.2004.142.2