Waffentag of the German Cavalry
From the 11.–12.06.1938, the city of Erfurt organized the 8th Waffentag of the German cavalry, a major event that also represents a highlight in the pre-war history of Panzerregiment 1.
Erfurt, former garrison of the Jägerregiment zu Pferde Nr. 6 (Imperial Age) as well as of the 16. Reiter-Regiment of the Reichswehr, followed the cities of Dresden (1931), Hannover (1932), Düsseldorf (1933), Munich (1934), Hamburg (1935), Breslau (1936) and Karlsruhe 1937. The organizer was the "Deutscher Waffenring der deutschen Kavallerie e.V.", in which about 570 traditional associations of the old Imperial German Army with about 50,000 members were united. The purpose of the association was:
"To cultivate the tradition of the German cavalry, borne by the love for the old weapon, for the German fatherland, ready to keep up the old comradely spirit also in civic life. To arouse the willingness to sacrifice for the fatherland and to transfer the idea of tradition to our growing youth".
Although the statute explicitly stated that the association "does not pursue political, religious or economic goals," a conservative, monarchical attitude can be assumed.
Understandably, the association sought proximity to active units of the Wehrmacht. The Erfurt garrison offered a variety of different units (infantry, artillery, anti-tank, signals units, Luftwaffe), but it is not surprising that the Panzerregiment 1 in particular was addressed here, since the Panzertruppe was in the eyes of contemporaries the natural heir to the tradition of the old cavalry.
The prelude to the Waffentag was a big concert put on by the Wehrmacht. This took place, in the Erfurt sport stadium (Mitteldeutsche Kampfbahn), on Friday evening (10 June 1938).
Under the musical direction of Heeres-Musikinspizient, Professor Adolf Berdien, a total of 29 music corps and marching bands were united to form one body of sound. The guest of honor at the event was 89-year-old Generalfeldmarschall August von Mackensen, who appeared in the blue uniform of the Imperial Hussars. Von Mackensen, a successful World War I cavalry general and enormously popular, was the patron of the Waffenring. He and the approximately 30’000 spectators were presented with a sequence of historical marches in the first part of the event. The second part of the evening, it had become dark in the meantime, was introduced by the fireworks display "The Kampfbahn in flames". This spectacle was followed by the "Grand Tattoo", performed by soldiers of Panzerregiment 1 under the direction of the Major beim Stabe Wilhelm Hochbaum. With the completion of the ceremony and report to the Generalfeldmarschall, numerous searchlights, from the city of Gotha’s Flakregiment 3, were turned on and their fingers of light shown skyward converging into a pyramid in the middle of the stadium. The singing of the national anthem and the Horst Wessel song concluded the event.
The converging points of light, from the flak searchlights, form a dome; this marked the end of the Grand Tattoo.
The program on Saturday, June 11, 1938, began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Erfurt war memorials by officers of the Waffenring. This was followed by the meeting of the honorary leaders and regional association leaders at Haus Kossenhaschen (Hotel Erfurter Hof), followed by the meeting of the Mitteldeutschen Kavallerie-Verband Association at the Steininger inn.
In the afternoon, a large horseback riding and jumping tournament and a demonstration by the Wehrmacht with the participation of officers from the Hanover Cavalry School and Kavallerie-Regiment 3 (Göttingen) took place at the Mitteldeutsche Kampfbahn (Erfurt Stadium).
Starting at 3:00 p.m., the Waffenring invited the regional leaders and guests of honor to a reception at Haus Kossenhaschen (Hotel Erfurter Hof). The founder of the Waffenring, Theodor Schröder, announced in a speech that this would be the last Waffentag of the German cavalry. After a consecration of flags by the honorary leader of the Waffenring, General der Kavallerie Maximilian von Poseck, the leader of the Waffenring, General Arnold Preußer, opened the meeting of the regional associations and at the same time announced the decision that the Waffenring would cease to exist on September 30, 1938. At the same time, he urged the individual comradeships to join the NS-Reichskriegerbund (Kyffhäuserbund). The dissolution of the Waffenring was not so much a voluntary decision as it followed the general synchronization of German associations and organizations. Already on March 4, 1938, the incorporation of all veteran associations into the NS-Reichskriegerbund had been decided by Reich decree.
After the meeting, Generalfeldmarschall von Mackensen appeared and awarded a number of deserving members, including the honorary leader of the Mitteldeutschen Kavallerie-Verband Association, Generalleutnant ret. Eginhard Eschborn.
Association Badge of Honor 1st Class of the Waffenring der Deutschen Kavallerie, which was awarded in this form to deserving members. It was accompanied by a certificate.
So-called "Mackensen Ehrenschnalle" 1st class for meritorious activity for the preservation of the tradition of the old glorious German cavalry. It was accompanied by a certificate.
The ceremonial end of Saturday was the "German Evening" in the Erfurt sport stadium. During the presence of the deputy Gauleiter of Thuringia, State Councilor Heinrich Siekmeier, marching music pieces and speeches alternated before the old cavalrymen marched in two columns in their magnificent uniforms into the stadium, which was illuminated by torches. At 10:00 p.m., the guests of honor gathered in the city's festival halls for the grand Maneuver Ball.
Sunday opened with a Panzerregiment 1 event at the Löberfeld barracks. Despite the rainy weather, many spectators and guests of honor had come to witness a ceremony handing down the tradition of Imperial Jägerregiment zu Pferde Nr. 6, (garrisoned in Erfurt before 1914), to Panzerregiment 1. Jägerregiment zu Pferde Nr. 6 had been formed in 1910 and belonged to the 38. Kavallerie-Brigade (8. Kavalleriedivision) together with the Jägerregiment zu Pferde Nr. 2 during the First World War. After a short deployment at the Western Front, the regiment was transferred to the Eastern Front in September 1914 where it remained until March 1918. Towards the end of the war, it was again engaged in defensive fighting on the Western Front. After only eight years of existence, it was disbanded in January 1919. In the years after 1921, close ties existed with the Erfurt 16. Reiter-Regiment, which ceased to exist when the 1. Panzerdivision was formed in October 1935. Now Panzerregiment 1 followed in these footsteps. In a ceremonial act, three former members of the regiment in their old uniforms handed over the regimental standard of Jägerregiment zu Pferde No. 6 to Panzerregiment 1. A march past by Panzerregiment 1 in front of its commander and the guests of honor marked the end of the ceremony.
Moment of handing over the standard to the flag bearer of Panzerregiment 1.
Photo of the standard after it was handed over to Panzerregiment 1. From left, Oberstleutnant Schuckelt, Leutnant Kühn, flag bearer (an unknown Feldwebel), Leutnant Heiligenstadt, Oberleutnant Kirn, Leutnant (W) Berberich. On the far left Stabsmusikmeister Max Löchel.
Parallel to the event in the Löberfeld barracks, a camp service was held in Erfurt Cathedral at 09:00, followed by a reception by Mayor Kießling in the festival hall of the city hall. In addition to the Gauleiter of Thuringia, Fritz Sauckel, and numerous representatives of the city, the top leaders of the Waffenring and Generalfeldmarschall von Mackensen, who signed the city's golden book on this occasion, also attended.
On Sunday morning, the previous day’s equestrian tournament was continued in the sport stadium. At the same time, 110 delegates from old cavalry regiments marched through the streets of Erfurt. Resplendently dressed in their parade uniforms, they were led by Thuringia’s old cavalry leader, Generalleutnant ret. Eschborn – next to him his adjutant, Major ret. Römpler; the festival procession moved over Hindenburg and Arnstädter road to the richly decorated streets downtown, which were crowded with many people, to unite for the grand final parade in the sport stadium of Erfurt.
Music corps of Kavallerieregiment 3 from Rathenow marching into the Mitteldeutsche Kampfbahn.
Prussian Leib Hussars marching in. On the right on the white horse General Eschborn.
Marching in of a delegation of the Prussian Regiment of the Gardes du Corps.
After a speech by the Waffenring honorary leader, General der Kavallerie von Poseck, the Waffentag officially ends on Sunday evening.