The Chain of Office of the State Capital Magdeburg
1. History of the Chains of Office of the State Capital Magdeburg
The City Order of 1808 already stipulated that municipal officials wear Chains of Office. The first Chains of Office for the Lord Mayor of Magdeburg and the Principal City Councillor were created in 1841 by jeweller Karl Hübner (see City Councillors’ resolution dated 22/12/1840). The chain was made of “14 carat gold, 20 lots in weight, 8 thalers and 10 silver pennies per lot.”
One Chain of Office each was procured for the Mayor and the Deputy Principal City Councillor in 1873. They were “silver-gilt”. At the same time, the Lord Mayor’s Chain of Office from 1841 and the Principal City Councillor were altered (see the City Councillors’ resolution dated 27/12/1872). All four chains were the same. The medallions on the chains were “solid silver-gilt”.
On 27 April 1917, the chains were handed to the Reichsbank in return for their value in gold. This exchange was made during the First World War as part of the “I gave gold for iron” campaign. As replacements, two “iron chains” with a value of 1100.00 Marks were to be purchased (see Doc. No. 140 dated 27/04/1917, File A II A 84, Rep. 184 IO 329). In 1919, the golden chains were retrieved by the city and handed to the museum as ordered by the Lord Mayor at the time, Reimarus. Information on its current location is disputed.
One of the iron replicas of the Chain of Office, manufactured by Magdeburg metalsmith Laubisch in 1917, is now in the Museum of Cultural History of the State Capital Magdeburg.
Effective from 7 October 1987, a new Chain of Office was introduced for the Lord Mayor (see the proposed council resolution 285 dated 08/10/1987). It was designed by Magdeburg sculptor Heinrich Apel.
A marble fragment from the excavations on Domplatz in 1960 was incorporated.
2. Occasions for wearing the Chain of Office
No regulations for when the Chain of Office is to be worn have been found. It was only noted that it was to be worn on formal occasions.
A memo from the Minister of the Interior to the County Commissioners on 11/03/1848 reveals that the King approved that, in cities which already had insignia of office, such insignia could be used even if they had not been approved, provided they didn’t violate the provisions of the City Order. There were regulations for insignia of office produced after that.
A royal order dated 9 April 1851 stipulates “that wearing of chains and medallions required by the older City Order as insignia of office for local authorities, after the City Order was rescinded by introduction of a new Municipal Code on 11 March of the same year, is only to be permitted in future as a special recognition, to be approved by Me in every individual case.”
The Lord Mayor of Magdeburg, Hasselbach, was given express permission by the king via a cabinet order in 1853. In 1858, the same honour was accorded to the Chairman of the City Council. As reception ceremonies were due to be held in the following days, he was soon able to exercise this right.
Today only the Lord Mayor wears the Chain of Office on special official occasions and for representative purposes.
For example, such occasions include welcoming state guests and diplomats, awarding Honorary Citizenship, making entries in the Golden Book of the State Capital Magdeburg and award ceremonies.
There are no stipulations in the Main Statutes of the State Capital Magdeburg on wearing of the Chain of Office.
3. Description of the current Chain of Office
The Chain of Office of the Lord Mayor of the City of Magdeburg is silver-gilt and was made in 1987.
It consists of corals (baroque stones), rose quartzes, rock crystals, ivory, bone, a marble fragment (excavation finds from the Domplatz Magdeburg - Otto I’s palace building). The smallest medallions bear reliefs of the destruction of Magdeburg in 1631 and 1945. There is a 5-leafed rose at the rear of the municipal coat of arms. An ivory panel is inscribed: FUNDATA EST DCCCV (founded in 805),the rear shows the signature of Charlemagne.
The marble fragment bears the signature of Otto I. on the rear.
(Source: City Archive)