Daughter gifts Cross of Honour of Peter Rodermann, a German musketeer, to the city college museum
A century ago, a bullet shot that rang out ended up changing the face of the world. The target: Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the prince of the Austria-Hungary Hapsburg Empire; the consequence: the five-year World War I.
Germany joined the war early on, and among the most dangerous war fronts was the Western Front (close to the border of France and Belgium), where it faced the formidable armies of the Allied forces — Britain and its colonies, France and later on, the United States.
Death was a constant presence at the front, and faced with depleting manpower, Germany conscripted its youth into the military. WWI historians believe nearly 14 million persons died on the Western Front during the war.
On April 2, 1917, a 20-year-old Peter Rodermann, a German musketeer, was sent to the Western Front, to counter the advancing allied forces. While he lost both his brothers, Michel and Johann, in the war, “his heroics” saw him come out relatively unscathed from the brutal war.
Decades later, Mr. Rodermann was awarded the ‘Cross of Honour’ certificate for his contributions in the battle, and on Wednesday, the certificate found a place at the Aloyseum, the museum at St. Aloysius College in the city.
“It is fitting that the certificate is being displayed at the centenary year of the war. There were heavy fights, people had to leave their homes and hide in the forests. The population suffered through the war… This is a remainder that there should not be any more wars,” said Anneliese Klinkhammer, who was present during the unveiling of the relic.
The certificate was donated to the museum by Mr. Rodermann’s daughter, Margaret Rodermann — a frequent traveller to the city and the museum — who discovered the certificate after nearly a century at their remote village home at Birresborn in Eifel, Germany.
The certificate is designed in the contemporary Jugend Stil style (Art Nouveau), and bears scenes of battle: infantry, air and naval warfare. Written in the Gothic script — roughly translated to praise of Mr. Rodermann’s bravery on the front which has made the Fatherland proud — the certificate bears a small faded photograph of the awardee in his army fatigues.
Gilesa Schmitten, a close associate of Ms. Rodermann, said after the way, the musketeer returned to his village to start a barber shop. “Peter Rodermann was forced to join the war. He didn’t have an option. While there is sorrow at the memory of the war, we must recognise the bravery of this man,” she said.