• Herbert Sulzbach's medals

    'Herbert Sulzbach is a living example of the absurdity of our times.'

    This was the opinion of an observer at a reception for a visiting dignitary at the German Embassy in the 1970s. Sulzbach was wearing his medals – the German Iron Crosses (First and Second Class) that he had been awarded during the First World War when he had fought for Germany, and his British medals gained when he had fought for Britain during the Second World War.

    It was an opinion that Sulzbach himself shared. By the end of his life he had been awarded nine medals – from six different heads of state – which he considered reflected the chaos of the century through which he had lived.

    From the German Kaiser he had received his Iron Crosses – the first in 1916, and the second at the Battle of the Marne in July 1918.

    Following a decree by Hitler in July 1934, he was awarded the Front Line Soldier's Cross of Honour – despite the continual eroding of civil rights for Jews like himself.

    After his flight from Germany, Herbert Sulzbach fought in the British army from October 1940 and received the Victory and Defence Medals under King George VI in 1945.

    In recognition of his post-war work for Anglo-German reconciliation he was awarded the Order of Merit First Class of the Federal Republic of Germany on 8 February 1964, and the Grand Cross of the German Federal Republic, Order of Merit, on 8 February 1971.

    He was particularly moved when he was given the European Cross of Peace in October 1978 because this was granted by the Association of French and German veterans of war – all old soldiers like himself.

    On 31 December 1981, Queen Elizabeth II granted Herbert Sulzbach the Order of the British Empire.

    It was said of him after he died that

    'Herbert Sulzbach was a man of two nations, two faiths, two wars, two armies, two careers – and in every one of these categories, the soul of honour in both.'

    His medals are nowadays cared for and brilliantly exhibited at The Royal Logistic Corps Museum at Deepcut in Surrey.

    (photo: Herbert Sulzbach's medals)

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