Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Is There a Prussian Military Expert in the House?

Is There a Prussian Military Expert in the House?

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 18, 2010

My friend Ingrid has recently found and purchased two family photographs on eBay — it’s miraculous what the internet can do, no?

The photos, viewable temporarily here (they’re protected so I can’t just copy them into this post) show two different images of a Prussian military officer, Leopold Ollendorff (1843-1889) of Berlin, in uniform.

Are there any Keepa readers who can tell Ingrid anything about this man based on these images? Can you discern a rank, or unit, or anything else? The images are now en route from England — perhaps when they arrive we can get a clearer closeup of the medal he’s wearing.

Any advice, including references to websites (English or German) which could help Ingrid wrest any information from these images, is greatly appreciated.



  1. My area of history is ancient and classical, but i have always had an interest in military flags and regalia

    take a look at page 15 in this downloadable book

    This might be useful

    Comment by DavidT — May 19, 2010 @ 8:53 am

  2. Peter LLC comes to mind.

    Comment by john f. — May 19, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  3. The most obvious identifying item is the medal on his chest, although it appears that it’s different in each photo. (On the right, the central band of the ribbon is darker.)

    Two websites which may help in figuring out what the medal represents (and it appears you can contact the webmaster directly) are and

    Perhaps the gentlemen running these sites can help with uniform ID as well. If you have the time, there are entire books on the subject (written by guys who are more of a military history nut that I am) like this one on Amazon

    I’ll bet this guy was involved in the Franco-Prussian war…

    For as organized as the Prussians were, chances of finding his actual records are slim; most Prussian army records were lost in the WWII firebombing of Berlin… Nevertheless, it may be possible to find something. A good overview of where to start is available here

    Comment by Clark — May 19, 2010 @ 9:32 am

  4. Thank you, gentlemen. I’ll make sure Ingrid sees your suggestions. (I didn’t know where to start, but I had a feeling YOU would.)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 19, 2010 @ 10:02 am


    is a great site… I use the translate function in google chrome to advantage

    heres an image url from that site

    Comment by DavidT — May 19, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  6. Dear friends of Ardis & Keepapitchin patrons, My native tongue is German and have no trouble reading it nor the old print or gothic handwriting, so do throw it at me without hesitation. I did find a listing on line in an old military weekly paper from 1875 where it lists him as an assist. physician, 2nd class, in the res. Landw. Bat. Berlin Nr. 35 (what ever that means) These are two different pics, the stripes on the medallion are different. Thanks for all your suggestions.

    Comment by Ingrid — May 19, 2010 @ 11:26 am

  7. Here’s a general description of the type of tunic (Waffenrock) Mr. Ollendorff would have been wearing:

    Given his age and the appearance of the collar, he is most likely sporting an M1867 model with collar tab thingys called “Lizen” like this:

    Lots more close-ups and details of various tunics here:

    In the second picture he is wearing epaulettes along the lines of the one on the top left here:

    Or here:

    Or here:

    Comment by Peter LLC — May 19, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  8. I’ve heard that tradesmen and professionals in later 19th century German states often belonged to associations and wore military-like uniforms, swords, etc. on public occasions.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — May 19, 2010 @ 11:33 am

  9. Reserve Landwehr Battalion Berlin Number 35.

    That’s my guess.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 19, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  10. res. Landw. Bat.

    = reserve(?) Landwehr Battalion

    P.S.- About an hour ago I submitted a bunch of links but the post didn’t show; is it in moderation or shall I post the links again?

    [Sorry, Peter; it should be visible now. Thanks for that! — AEP]

    Comment by Peter LLC — May 19, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

  11. You are all awesome. I do not like this part of history, but with your help it will be a lot easier. The original 2 ‘carte de visite’ will arive next week. Let’s see if it reveals any more details. Vielen Herzlichen Dank.

    Comment by Ingrid — May 19, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

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