This is an interesting memorial photo of Bavarian Reserve Lieutenant Otto Lang.  The inscription at the bottom of the photo reads: “Zur Erinnerung/ an/ Leutnant d. R. und Komp.-Führer im 1. bay. Inf.-Rgt. 12. Komp./ Otto Ritter von Lang/ gefallen vor Douaumont am 12. Juni 1916.” (In remembrance/ of/ Reserve Lieutenant and Company Commander in the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment 12th Company/ Otto Ritter von Lang/ fallen before Douaumont on June 12, 1916″.  In the photo he is wearing his Iron Cross 1st Class.  A large medal bar consisting of an Iron Cross 2nd Class and a Bavarian Military Merit Order 4th Class with Swords, and a Military Max Joseph Order Knight’s Cross with the ribbon worn in his tunic buttonhole, were painted onto the photographic negative.

 

 

Figure 1: Memorial photo of Otto Ritter von Lang. Image from the author’s archive.

 

 

On the reverse of the framed photo is a printed obituary.

 

 

Figure 2: Obituary of Otto Ritter von Lang. Image from the author’s archive.

 

 

The following is a translation of the obituary:

 

 

Obituary.

Lieutenant of the Reserve Otto Lang of the 1st Infantry Regiment, who sacrificed his life on the battlefield, was the second oldest son of the banker, Commercial Councilor F. P. Lang, long-time chairman of the Munich Men’s Gymnastics Club from 1879.  He was born in Munich on September 18, 1887, graduated from the Wilhelmsgymnasium and, after completing his duty as a One-Year Volunteer in the 1st Infantry Regiment from 1906 to 1907, attended the Munich Technical University, where he devoted himself to the study of architecture under Professor Theodor Fischer and in 1913 obtained the title of Graduate Engineer.  He then worked as an architect for the construction companies Gebruder Rank and Heilmann & Littmann.  He was considered to be a very talented and promising architect. His last work was a Jahn-memorial, which will now be placed in stone and marble in honor of the presence of the Munich Men’s Gymnastics Club on Häberlstrasse.  Even in the field he was successful in his profession because of his love for the cause of the State Gymnastics Examination.  Thanks to his active participation, the great development of field sports and gymnastics in Munich has taken place.  On January 7, 1914, he was appointed Lieutenant of the Reserve in the 1st Infantry Regiment.  The War broke out while he was doing his first Officer exercise.  With enthusiasm he went into the field with his Regiment.  In October 1914 he had already acquired the Iron Cross 2nd Class and in January 1915 the Military Merit Order 4th Class with swords.  At Givenchy, the Iron Cross 1st Class was pinned on him by the Regimental Commander in January 1916 and he was proposed for inclusion in the Military Max Joseph Order.  On June 1, 1916, he excelled repeatedly.  His heroic performance on that day when the J-Works south of Douaumont was stormed is commemorated in the official report “Bavaria in the Battle of Verdun”, where he was characterized “as a lieutenant, the cold-blooded one who had always shown himself to be a responsible leader”.  A few days later, on June 12, 1916, the brave, intrepid hero was shot in the head at the moment when he took over the security for his Company, which was concealed in a mine crater.  His Regimental Commander gave the following most honorable words in the obituary notice: “He was the bravest one, a true man, a true leader, a loyal comrade, loved and revered by his Company, valued and admired by all comrades.  The Military Max Joseph Order was no longer to be awarded to him during his lifetime.  His memory will remain indelibly with the Regiment. ”

“Münchner Neueste Nachrichten” 1916.

 

The excerpt from “Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch” regarding Lieutenant Lang’s actions at Givenchy:

 

 

Figure 3: Excerpt from “Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch” regarding Lieutenant Lang’s actions at Givenchy on January 28, 1916.

 

 

The following is a translation of the excerpt:

 

 

Lang, Otto Ritter von †

Reserve Lieutenant and Company Leader in the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment “König”.  In peacetime an architect, certified gymnastics teacher and graduate engineer in Munich.  Born September 18, 1887 at Munich.  Died June 12, 1916 near Douaumont.

On January 28, 1916, in the positions at Givenchy, the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment had orders to provide fire support for an attack by the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment on their left.  Reserve Lieutenant Lang, Leader of the 12th Company of the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment on the far left wing of the Regiment, carried out the previously thought-out plan to join the attack of the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment.  In the enemy shrapnel fire, the right 2 Platoons penetrated the enemy trench after overcoming the obstacles.  After a short resistance, the far superior trench-garrison emerged.  The 3rd Platoon followed suit right away.  The gap to the 2nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment was closed by the retained left Platoon, the trench was expanded for defense, a sentry line was advanced to block enemy approaches.  The independent, extraordinarily intelligent and determined action of Lieutenant Lang spared the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment the expense of a prepared attack; the Regiment Commander was now able to deploy the remaining parts of the Regiment, so that by 6 o’clock in the evening the entire enemy position belonging to the sector of the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment came into the possession of the Regiment.

 

 

The excerpt from “Virtuti Pro Patria” regarding Otto Ritter von Lang:

 

 

Otto Ritter von Lang

 

*18. 9. 1887 München. E: Kommerzienrat u. Bankier Franz L. u. Maria, geb. Gillitzer.

Er trat nach Absolvierung des Wilhelmsgymn. München am 1. 10. 1906 als Einj.Freiw. im 1.I.R. ein. 7. 1. 1914 Lt.d.R.  Er rückte mit der 11. Komp. ins Feld, war kurz auch Führer der 10., 11. u. 12. Komp., bei der er verblieb.  1914 Gefechte: Badonviller, a. d. Vezouse, bei Saarburg, Schlacht in Lothringen, vor Nancy-Epinal, a. d. Somme.

1915 Stellungsk. a. d. Somme, Herbstschlacht bei La Bassée, Stellungsk. im Artois.

1916 Gefecht bei Neuville-St. Vaast. Schlacht vor Verdun.

Lt.d.R. Lang war Dipl.-Ing.   Als Architekt war er bei Baufirmen Gebr. Rank u. Heilmann & Littmann.  Begabt u. vielversprechend.  Sein letztes Werk war ein Jahndenkmal im Hofe des Männerturnvereines; Lang war langjähriges Mitglied des MTV.  Er hatte 1908 die Turnlehrerprüfung für Mittel- und Hochschulen erfolgreich abgeleistet mit Titel eines geprüften Turnlehrers.

Lt.d.R. Ritter von Lang ist am 12. 6. 1916 bei Douaumont, als er in einem Minentrichter für seine verdeckt gehaltene Komp. die Sicherung übernahm, durch Kopfschuß gefallen.  Aufnahme in den M.M.J.O. am 28. 1. 1916.  Sein Rgt.Kdr. widmete ihm folg. ehrenden Worte: “Es war der Tapfersten einer, ein ganzer Mann, ein ganzer Führer, ein treuer Kamerad, geliebt, verehrt von seiner Komp., geschätzt, bewundert von allen Kameraden.”

 

 

The following is a translation of the excerpt:

 

 

Otto Ritter von Lang

 

Born September 18, 1887 Munich. Parents: Councilor of Commerce and Banker Franz L. and Maria, née Gillitzer.

After graduating from the Wilhelmsgymnasium in Munich, he joined the 1st Infantry Regiment on October 1, 1906 as a One-Year Volunteer. January 7, 1914 Lieutenant of the Reserve.  He moved into the field with the 11th company and briefly was the leader of the 10th, 11th and 12th companies, with which he remained.  1914 battles: Badonviller, on the Vezouse, near Saarburg, battle in Lorraine, before Nancy-Epinal, on the Somme.

1915 Trench warfare on the Somme, Autumn battle at La Bassée, trench warfare in the Artois.

1916 battle at Neuville-St. Vaast. Battle of Verdun.

Lieutenant of the Reserve Lang was a Graduate Engineer.  As an architect, he worked for construction companies Gebrüder Rank and Heilmann & Littmann.  Talented and promising.  His last work was a Jahn-Memorial in the courtyard of the Men’s Gymnastics Club; Lang was a long-time member of the Men’s Gymnastics Club.  In 1908 he had successfully passed the Gymnastics Examination for middle and higher education with the title of a Certified Gymnastics Instructor.

Lieutenant of the Reserve Ritter von Lang fell on June 12, 1916 near Douaumont, through a shot to the head, when he took over the security of his Company sheltering in a mine-crater.  Accepted into the Military Max Joseph Order on January 28, 1916.  His Regimental Commander dedicated the following honorable words to him: “He was the bravest one, a true man, a true leader, a loyal comrade, loved and revered by his Company, valued and admired by all comrades.”

 

 

In summary, on January 28, 1916 Lieutenant of the Reserve Otto Lang fought at Givenchy and was shortly thereafter nominated for inclusion in the Military Max Joseph Order for his actions on that day.  On June 12, 1916 Lieutenant of the Reserve Otto Lang was killed in action near Douaumont.

On September 9, 1916 Lieutenant of the Reserve Otto Lang was appointed to the Military Max Joseph Order as a Knight.  On October, 2, 1916 Otto Ritter von Lang was registered in the Nobility Register (Adelsmatrikel).

Since the award of the Military Max Joseph Order Knight’s Cross was made posthumously, no Knight’s Cross was actually issued.  The memorial photo of Otto Ritter von Lang had a facsimile of a Military Max Joseph Order Knight’s Cross painted on the negative to represent his posthumous award.

 

 

Thank you for your interest regarding this article.  Comments are welcome.

– Lorin

 

 

Literature:

Kramer, Rudolf von, Waldenfels, Otto von, and Pechmann, Dr. Günther Freiherr von.  Virtuti Pro Patria, Der königlich bayerische Militär-Max-Joseph-Orden, Kriegstaten und Ehrenbuch 1914-1918.  Selbstverlag des königlich bayerischen Militär-Max-Joseph-Ordens, München, 1966.

Roth, Erhard. Statistische Ausarbeitungen zur Phaleristik Deutschlands Band VI, Verleihungen von militärischen Orden und Ehrenzeichen des Königreichs Bayern im Ersten Weltkrieg 1914-1918.  PHV Phaleristischer Verlag Michael Autengruber, Offenbach am Main, 1997.

Bearbeitet vom Bayerischen Kriegsarchiv. Bayerns Goldenes Ehrenbuch. Verlag Joseph Hyronimus, München, 1928.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Servus Lorin,

    Again an interesting article about Ritter von Lang. It is interesting in the picture that the photographer has painted the ribbon bar from the back. He must have put the template upside down.

    Best wishes
    Walter

    • Servus Walter,

      Thank your comment and for your keen observation regarding the painted representation of the awards on Lang’s large medal bar.
      You are correct, the MVO 4th Class with Swords should have been shown in the first position. Instead, the EKII is show in that position.
      This was certainly not correct until the 1930’s. It also appears as though the reverse of both awards was painted instead of the obverse of each award.

      Best regards,

      Lorin

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