Totentanz Series: The King Stephen Incident Obverse

Walther Eberbach

American Numismatic Society

American Numismatic Society
New York, United States

L19 was a German Zeppelin taking part in a bombing raid over England on February 1, 1916. On the return trip home, the airship was blown off course over Holland where it attracted anti-aircraft fire and was damaged. The airship went down in the North Sea with the crew alive but clinging to the wreckage. A nearby British fishing trawler, King Stephen, refused to aid the airship’s crew despite their pleas, and all were drowned. (The incident is illustrated on a medal by Karl Goetz, no. 66). The reference to the submarine U-22 here is not clear, however. U-22 (more accurately, UB-22) was not involved in any outstanding incidents with the British, although by the time the submarine was sunk in 1917 it had torpedoed over two dozen ships, including many British vessels. The Latin inscription on the reverse of Eberbach’s medal is from Virgil’s Aeneid (IV.625).

Death running in water towards sea battle; within curve: U22 L19 + ENGLAND—DAS·MASS·IST VOLL·(“Submarine U22, Airship L19 + England = the cup is full”)


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