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The Red Eagle Order for Non-Christians
 

Fredric William IV. found himself in a pinch while planning to award a order decoration in the form of the Christian cross to a Muslim. To avoid embarrassment he plainly issued a special division of the Prussian Red Eagle Order on February 26, 1851, matching the existing grade system of the existing order.

 

Ali Pascha , minister of foreign affairs in Turkey, received therefore the completely redesigned Red Eagle Order. To avoid the shape of the Christian cross completely the following designs were chosen:

 

1st Class

The star, which was worn on the chest was still awarded, yet the cross replaced with the exact same star worn from the sash.

2nd Class

The neck cross was replaced with the design of the 2nd class star, yet without the white enameled cross. The breast star without the white enameled cross application could then be awarded as an upgrade to the 2nd class. 

 

3rd Class

The 3rd class cross was replaced by a smaller version of the newly designed 2nd class badge suspended from a golden ring. The medallion is surrounded by a golden wreath.

4th Class

The former 4th class cross was substituted by a round shaped star suspended from a silver ring. The medallion is surrounded by a silver wreath.

 

Besides only a few awards made to Muslims this decoration was mainly given to German Jews. Most of which were offended by being marked with this new awkward design. Many petitions were sent to the King and the Prussian orders chancellery to make exceptions and exchange the new for the classic decorations. None of them were granted.

 

October 23, 1857, William I. took over his sick brother's regiment and changed this. Shortly after his taking over power he received a petition for exchange from a highly recognized business man, which he granted.

 

Since this was the very first granted petition the orders chancellery approached the Kaiser and asked for advise on this matter. The answer was received February 16, 1861, stating to ignore the former edict. To make matters even more clear William I. stated on July 5, 1861, that the Non-Christians form would only be awarded on specific order from the Kaiser. This would allow the existents of Non-Christian decorations with jubilee number, swords etc.

 

There is no doubt that this exotic Red Eagle Order division must be one of the rarest. Few have been awarded. Taken from the Hossauer's personal notes* the following orders of Non-Christian decorations to the orders chancellery were filled between just 1855 and 1856:

 

...April 23, 1855, the general order commission orders through court advisor Peisker....and six Red Eagle Order decorations for Non-Christians.

 

4th class decoration

 

...September 14, 1855, the general order commission orders through court advisor Mr. Peisker two stars first and stars second class with ring, two of them with and two with jubilee number for Non-Christians, as fast as possible. Send September 29. September 11, 1855, Mustafa-ed-din Bey, Turkish first Dragoman, and Mohammed Essad Safvet-Effendi, Turkish under secretary of state in the ministry for foreign affairs, were awarded the Red Eagle Order second class with star.

 

...July 2, 1857, the general order commission orders...one breast star first class for Non-Christians, one decoration first class to be worn on the neck. Delivered July 15. June 26, 1857, Kemal Effendi, the Turkish ambassador in Berlin was awarded this decoration.

 

...August 14, 1857, the general order commission orders...two stars of the Red Eagle Order 2nd class for Non-Christians with emphasis to deliver as soon as possible. Delivered August 22. One was possibly awarded August 11, 1857, to Baron M.C. v. Rothschild, kings court-banker in Frankfurt a.M.

 

...May 17, 1858, the general order commission orders...furthermore six Red Eagle Order decorations for Non-Christians to delivered within 14 days. Delivered May 29.

 

3rd class decoration

 

Interesting is the remark about wearing the 1st class decoration on the neck, since the first class badge originally requires to be worn from the sash. 

 

The next picture is definitely proof enough that the Non-Christian designs were not awarded forever:

  

 

The above shown decoration shows in Arabic information on the actual Turkish bearer of the regular designed Red Eagle Order 4th class: "Dördüncü rütbe Egl Ruc Aclun kaymakami Sevki Bey'e", or translated "Fourth-class Red Eagle to Sevki Bey, district governor of Aclun"(Northern Syria)**.  Indeed a cabinets order dated July 5, 1861, ruled that an award of the special design was only granted from then on by special order. The non Christian design therefore ended.

© A. Schulze Ising, VII/04

 

*from:"Militaria", Heft 6, pages 196 ff., Dr. Peter Sauerwald, "Fertigung von Orden und Ehrenzeichen in den Jahren 1855 bis 1858"

**picture from Isa Akbas, from Istanbul. See also, Edhem Eldem, Pride and Privilege. A History of Ottoman Orders, Medals and Decorations, Istanbul, 2004, p. 463


 
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