Is this German? Polish?

I recently purchased what appears to be a large trophy that has the following inscription on it:
Unkerm Gptfw. Umon
Von Feiner
Dez. 1941

Any ideas what language and what it might say?

Gptfw. looks like it could be a German abbreviation, but I don’t know of what. Von Feiner–“of the fine” I think–is probably a name. I’m drawing a blank on Unkerm & Umon, but Google indicates that Unom might be Magyar?

December is *Dezember *in German, *Grudzień *in Polish

To non-German speakers, fraktur lettering can be quite confusing - and that’s what I’m guessing the OP has on the shelf. I suspect that “Von Feiner” is really “Von seiner” - that is, “From your”. I can’t make out the next word as given - maybe it’s a name.

Got a picture of this? I bet it’s fraktur, which would itself immediately mean that it’s German - I’m pretty sure.

It definitely does not look Polish or Hungarian (Magyar) to me. Looks absolutely German.

Native German speaker here. I’m confident that at least part of this is abbreviated German. The “Dez. 1941” part certainly means December of 1941.

I didn’t serve in the army myself, but the German military (both pre-1945 and today) is notorious for its cumbersome way of abbreviating things (especially compound words), and much of this would be very much in that style. The …fw bit of a word could refer to Feldwebel, the German word for Sergeant which can be preceded by prefixes like Hauptfeldwebel. According to German Wikipedia, the military rank of Hauptfeldwebel is indeed abbreviated Hptfw (and according to English Wikipedia, this rank corresponds to an American Company First Sergeant). Would it be possible that you misread an H for a G?

Similarly, Stawifo looks like an abbreviation to me - composed of three words, one starting with the syllable Sta-, the second with Wi-, and the third with Fo. I guess Sta- could be a shorting for Stabs- (staff, as in general staff), which was used in a lot of ranks or names for functions. I can’t think of something explaining the other bits, though.

Von Feiner is certainly a name. If the words preceding Umon are military ranks or functions, as I suppose they are, then Umon would be very likely to be a name too.

I just read what Civil Guy wrote. It’s true that a Fraktur S can look very much like an F to a reader not familiar with that script (Cecil explains), so his theory that “von Feiner” means “von seiner” sounds plausible. The text would then read “von seiner Stawifo” - from his Stawifo, whatever that be. It would then be a trophy presented to Mr Umon, whatever his rank be, from his Stawifo colleagues or subordinates in the December of 1941.

Maybe you could put a photo of it online, so we could take a look at the writing?

I suspect it is also probably not “Unkerm” but rather “Unterm”, the contraction of “Unter dem” or “Under the”.

StaWiFo could be *Staats Wirtschaftliche Forschungsgesellschaft * (WiFo) - these were government-controlled front organisations set up to manage secret “tank farms” in the late 1930s in Germany to help army logistics teams prepare for the coming war.

Wikipedia article here:

Any chance of a photograph?

Or “Unserm” - an contraction of “Unserem” = “our” in the dative case.

Which suggests “to our” as it’s dative?

That makes sense – putting everything together, one would get ‘Unserm Hauptfeldwebel Umon, von seiner Staatswirtschaftlichen Forschungsgesellschaft, Dezember 1941 = To our First Sargent Umon, from his tank farm, December 1941’. However, ‘Umon’ isn’t exactly a very German name, and since the Fraktur A looks a lot like a U in some types (like here), it’s perhaps more likely Amon…

That’s an interesting suggestion, but the article you link to doesn’t mention that the company was ever known as Staatswirtschaftliche Forschungsgesellschaft, or that it was ever abbreviated Stawifo. Seems the thing was known as WiFo throughout.

Yeah, that was a bit of a stretch. There was a tank farm at Stassfurt, but I don’t now whether it’s common to abbreviate the name of the place along with the WiFo.

I’ve got some pictures that might clear it up, but I don’t think I have the ability to post them yet.

In that case wouldn’t the “von” be uncapitalized? I’m not a native speaker, and I don’t know why this is, but “von Feiner” sounds very odd for a surname.

Civil Guy, “von Seiner” would be "From (or By) his, if it isn’t a name. I’m thinking Schnitte must be right in suspecting that it was an award to somebody, given by his staff, crew, subordinates, or whatever.

Yes, when you write the “von” bit as a part of a surname (which, incidentally, does not necessarily indicate an aristocratic background - most aristocratic families used to have a “von” somwhere in their name, but some bourgeois families did too) you would put it in lowercase. However, People might have capitalised it because (1) it’s the first word in a line, or (2) because in that inscription, to make it appear more solemn or whatever, they capitalised every word. Or maybe (3) a lower-case v was simply misread for an upper-case V. But see my next comment.

I’ve never heard it, but it wouldn’t sound odd to me - “fein” is an adjective, “Feiner” would be the adjective used as a noun in a grammatically correct way, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it existed somewhere. I ran a search for “Feiner” as a family name in a German online telephone directory and it yielded quite a number of results.
Having said that, I now agree that the “von seiner” theory is more plausible than my initial reading of “von Feiner” as a name. It would make sense and fit well into the overall picture of that trophy presented to someone by friends or colleagues on some occasion.

This board doesn’t actually permit anyone to post images. The usual work-around is to use a third-party image hosting site like Flickr, PhotoBucket, or imgur.

Okay, here are the pictures: