Story This Week: A Treasure Trove Of Letters

Our story this week takes place in the present time. Francine Kiefer of Washington D.C., granddaughter of Felix Kiefer, has travelled over from the USA to Ettlingen to present our municipal archive with an entire trunk of letters from the years 1911 through 1919 for safekeeping and research purposes.

The trunk contains over 2,000 letters, written mainly between Felix and his wife Erne during the Great War years of 1914 through 1918. It also includes letters from Felix to the rest of his family in Ettlingen as well as several letters exchanged between other members of the family, his war diaries, First World War maps, a family "Chronicle" written by Felix's father Alexander Kiefer (Ettlingen's master builder) and Felix's WW1 medals.

Felix's story, together with the story of his brother Tor, will be told in our partner blog The Kiefer Brothers.

Excerpt from one of Felix's letters to his wife Erne.
The collection of letters between Felix and Erne tells the love story of the couple separated by the war, Felix serving as an officer first at the Western and then at the Eastern Front, Erne serving as a nurse in a lazaret on the Western Front.

Felix kept various diaries during the war, all of which have likewise been perfectly preserved in the trunk. Although most of these are handwritten, we are very fortunate that one has been typewritten and therefore presents no problems as far as reading is concerned.

An excerpt from Felix's meticulously kept handwritten diary of 1916.
We hope that these diaries and letters will provide us with more insights into life at the front. Felix's brother, Tor, also spent much of the war stationed at the Eastern Front and the two apparently met up on several occasions. Tor's letters, which have been held in our municipal archives for several decades, have so far proved extremely interesting and informative, both with regard to historical and social aspects.

The letters, diaries, maps and medals were presented by Francine Kiefer and her husband to the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen.

Francine Kiefer, a political journalist based in Washington D.C., who writes for the Christian Science Monitor, hopes that the collection will attract the interest of historians and academics worldwide.

Kathy Quinlan-Flatter, the creator of this blog, who first contacted Francine Kiefer in March 2014 to discuss the collection of Kiefer letters held in the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen.

As a result of their correspondence and the current global interest in the Great War, Francine Kiefer decided to present the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen with her treasure trove of letters.

This Week's Story: The Soldiers Of Spessart Part 2

This week our story comes from Brigitte Weber of Ettlingen-Spessart, which lies in the hills above Ettlingen. Brigitte's two uncles fought and died in Laffaux on the Western Front when they were both just 20 years old. During the Great War, Brigitte's family received letters and photos from relatives and friends, and collected some of the memorial cards of soldiers who had died from the village.

These two photos, sent home to Brigitte's family from the Western Front, show soldiers recovering in the lazaret together with the nurses who worked there.

During the Great War, the need for prosthetics escalated immensely as tens of thousands of soldiers lost limbs. As a result, there were unprecedented developments in the design of artificial limbs.

Soldiers also suffered from a new phenomenon known as "shell shock", which was the reaction of some soldiers to the trauma of battle. Unfortunately, this "nervous and mental shock" was poorly understood, as there were often no signs of physical injury. At the start of the war, it was assumed that there was a link between the symptons and the effects of explosions from artillery shells. However, an increasing number of men who had not been exposed to artillery fire began to suffer from the phenomenon. Symptons included tinnitus, amnesia, headache, dizziness, tremor and hypersensitivity to noise.

Carl Ludwig Wilhelm Maisch, of Foot Artillery Regiment 14, born on October 3, 1895 in Ettlingen-Schöllbronn near Spessart, was wounded on April 26, 1916 at 9:30 a.m. at Verdun, and died in the lazaret at Villiers on the Western Front on April 27, 1916

Kanonier Anton Weber, born on August 31, 1885 in
Ettlingen-Spessart, fell on July 19, 1916 "on the field of honor"
at Biaches on the Somme.

A hero's death I died,
I won the best death for myself,
God holds all gifts in his hand.
I am at peace in France's cool grave,
A grenade struck me down
But heaven is open to warriors.
Mother, brothers and sisters and all my loved ones,
Remember me in your prayers,
Don't forget your Anton
Who is lying buried in foreign earth
God's will was done
We'll meet again up there.

Unteroffizier Stefan Weber, born on May 25, 1892 in Ettlingen-Spessart, and fell on December 1, 1916 at Verdun.

This Week: Leutnant Felix Kiefer - A Venturing Spirit

Our story this week comes from Francine Kiefer of Washington, D.C., USA, whose grandfather Felix Kiefer of Ettlingen fought in the Great War.

Felix was born on September 11, 1891 in Ettlingen, the youngest of seven surviving children in his family. He was the younger brother of Ettlingen's sculptor Oskar Kiefer, who designed Germany's first "anti-war memorial" for Ettlingen, shown in the section List of Fallen, of Tor Kiefer, who worked as a doctor at both the Eastern and Western Fronts, and of Sylvestra Kiefer, who worked as a nurse at the Western Front.

Like his brother Tor, Felix also served at both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He volunteered for the Army in 1914 in Munich, where he was studying chemistry at university, and entered a Bavarian regiment - the RIR 16. Felix first served in the 4th Company of the Königlich Bayerisches Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment 16 as an Unteroffizier. When the RIR 16 was formed in September 1914, it consisted of approximately 3,300 officers and men, and was part of the Reserve-Infanterie-Brigade 12, which in turn belonged to the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division.

In 1916, Felix was promoted to Leutnant and had moved to the 3rd Bavarian Regiment of the 11th Bavarian Division.

Tor (left) and Felix Kiefer (right)
Photo copyright Francine Kiefer

Felix's son Alexander, who later wrote an account of his father's life, recorded that Felix served in "several major battles in France", and that he was twice decorated. In the East, he served in Galicia (present day Ukraine) and Romania, as well as spending time in Budapest, Hungary. He was wounded on various occasions - once in October 1916, when he was sent to a lazaret in Brest-Litowsk (present day Belarus) and once in October 1914 in Belgium, after which he was sent to a lazaret in Hamburg.

According to his son Alexander, "deeply scarred by war, Felix was released from military service in the spring of 1918 and resumed his studies".

Erne Maria Schumann was born on October 29, 1887 in Papenburg. Four years older than Felix, her relationship with him developed in Munich while he was a university student and they married on July 20, 1916. One year later, they had their first child, Alexander - Francine's father - in Munich on August 20, 1917. Their second child, Judith, was born on April 9, 1922 in Elz.

Erne Schumann, September 11, 1915
Photo copyright Francine Kiefer

Like Felix's sister Sylvestra, Erne served as a nurse on the Western Front. She was stationed in Sedan in 1915, but was back in Munich in 1916 for the rest of the war. Felix and Erne corresponded almost daily and sometimes twice a day when they were apart from each other.

After finishing his studies in Munich, Felix took a PhD at the Bavarian University of Erlangen, which he completed in 1919. He subsequently worked as a chemist at various factories until the collapse of the German economy during the period of the Weimar Republic in the 1920s. Felix saw no other option but to emigrate to the United States. He arrived in New York in February 1927, but was then posted to Honduras, where he worked as the head chemist of the Standard Fruit company. Here, he directed the agricultural laboratory, which dealt mainly in bananas. In December 1927, his family arrived in New Orleans, then later joined him in Honduras.

Tor (left) and Felix Kiefer (right)
Photo copyright Francine Kiefer

Malaria and lack of educational opportunity for the children caused him to relocate permanently to the United States in the fall of 1928, where he worked in the states of North Carolina, Maryland and New York as a chemist and a college teacher.
His specialty was food chemistry, and he held various patents for food preservatives, including breakfast cereal, dry milk, and margarine.

Felix and Erne both became US citizens. When Erne died on October 1, 1938, Felix grieved deeply. He eventually remarried a German woman, Gisela Menzinger of Bruchsal (near Karlsruhe) in 1953, and they lived together in Florida. In 1961, after turning 70, he was forced to retire and he and Gisela moved back to Bruchsal in Germany, where he died on August 24, 1965.

Felix loved camping and took his young family on many camping trips. In keeping with the rest of his artistically inclined family, he had an artistic streak and loved to paint watercolors - several of his letters to Erne included pressed flowers and poems. He supported his family in Ettlingen with care packages after the Second World War.

Francine's father described Felix's life as one that spread "great good" and characterized him as a "venturing spirit".

Story This Week: "A Mighty Fate Descends Over Europe" - Ettlingen Reports On The Declaration Of War By England

Ettlingen's state newspaper, the Badischer Landsmann, reports on the declaration of war on Germany by England on August 4, 1914.

The War.
England Declares War.

Berlin, August 4, 1914: Shortly after 7 o'clock, the English ambassador appeared in the Foreign Office to present the declaration of war and to demand the pass papers.

[England declares war on Germany in retaliation for Germany's violation of neutral Belgian territory].

Regarding Mobilization.

Berlin, August 4. An official announcement states that the mobilization of our army and our fleet has proceeded excellently up to this point. The conscription of the drafted men, their transportation to the assigned positions, in short, everything has functioned very smoothly. The people's trust in our military organization is completely justified. The mood among the drafted men must be particularly praised. Full of enthusiasm and commitment, but also infused by the gravity of the hour, all followed the order to report for service. The German people may be confident that future military measures will also be executed with the same order and systematic planning. It has also been reported that we are absolutely innundated with spies and persons from abroad intending to perform criminal attacks. Numerous attempts have already been made to explode important engineering structures, railway bridges, tunnels and similar, to disrupt the march of our troops. All such attempts will be strictly punished by death in the prevailing circumstances. However, all attempts to date by French and Russian agents in this regard have been unsuccessful. The perpetrators were all executed immediately. The people are requested to do everything in their power to ensure that such criminal attacks will continue to be rendered ineffective. For we are surrounded by spies. Even the most insignificant incident could be of importance. Whoever fulfills their duty in this regard will be performing a service for the Kaiser and the Empire.

The Session.

Berlin, August 4.
Today’s session of the Reichstag was opened by the President Dr. Kämpf at a quarter to 4, and the House and the galleries were extremely heavily attended. The Reichskanzler appeared with the Secretaries of State and Ministers. The present Presidium was reelected to loud applause.
President Dr. Kämpf reported that the Kaiser has consented to receive the Presidium this evening and to accept the announcement of the constitution of the House. (Bravo!) He hopes to be able to inform the Kaiser that drafts received have met with approval.

Reichskanzler von Bethmann Hollweg

rose to speak. A breathless silence prevailed throughout the room. A mighty fate – thus began the Kanzler – has befallen Europe. Russia has lit the tinder of the fire in the house. The Kanzler then outlined the immensely dramatic development of the last few days, in particular of Russia’s conduct and the violation of the border by France. We find ourselves, continued the Kanzler, in a position of self-defense. And necessity knows no laws. Our troops have occupied Luxembourg and possibly entered Belgian territory. This contravenes international law. But a French invasion in our flanks at the Lower Rhine could have been disastrous. We will, however, right this wrong once we have achieved our goal. We have issued a declaration to the English government that, as long as England remains neutral, our fleet will not attack the North coast of France, and that we will not infringe the territorial integrity of Belgium. I repeat this declaration publicly for the whole world.

[Apparently, Bethmann Hollweg does not consider the neutrality of Belgium to have been violated at this point, or at least only violated to the extent that it was necessary as an action of self-defense against the French attack without declaration of war (see below). Bethmann Hollweg's speech takes place during the late afternoon/early evening of August 4. At 7 o'clock in the evening, as reported above, the English ambassador arrives at the Foreign Office to present the English declaration of war, which is in retaliation for Germany's violation of neutral Belgian territory].

August 3: Ettlingen's newspaper the Mittelbadischer Courier reports on the state of war with France.

War In The East And In The West.

State of War with France
Berlin, August 3 (official report). Up to now, German troops have not trespassed over the French border, in compliance with the commands issued. In contrast, French troops have been attacking our border posts since yesterday without any declaration of war. They have trespassed over the German border at various points, although the French government assured us a few days ago that an unoccupied zone of 10 kilometers would be observed. Since last night, French companies have occupied the German towns of Doppeltal, Wetzeral and Markirch as well as the Schluchten Pass. Since yesterday, bomber planes have been flying over Baden, Bavaria, and, violating Belgian neutrality, over Belgian territory to the Rhein Province and are attempting to destroy our railways. France has thus opened the attack against us and compounded a state of war. The security of the Empire forces us to take countermeasures. His Majesty the Kaiser has issued the necessary commands. The German ambassador in Paris has been instructed to demand his pass papers.

Metz, August 3
A French doctor yesterday attempted, with the assistance of two disguised French officers, to infect wells with cholera germs. He was court-martialled and shot.

[Once again reports are received of French troops attacking without declaration of war. According to the official report from Berlin, French bomber planes have in fact been violating the neutrality of Belgian territory one day earlier than the reported violation by Germany].

This Week: "A Grave Hour Has Befallen Germany Today" - Ettlingen Reports The Outbreak Of War

Ettlingen's newspaper, the Mittelbadischer Courier, reports on the outbreak of the Great War on July 31, 1914.

State of War Declared

Ettlingen, July 31, 1914: Ettlingen's Mittelbadischer Courier announces:
State of War Declared for Germany
As Russia has not issued a declaration of neutrality to Austria, the latter is commencing complete mobilization. As a result, the mobilization of Germany has become necessary.

The Kaiser's Speech

The Courier reports on the events in Berlin. We can see from the Kaiser's speech that he is not happy to be addressing the people with news of possible war.

Berlin, July 31. A vast crowd of people had gathered [on] Unter den Linden [the name of the street] near the Palace and the Crown Prince’s Palace, and continually broke forth in enthusiastic cheers for the Kaiser and the Crown Prince. Patriotic songs were also sung. Finally, the Crown Prince appeared with his lady consort on the balcony of the Crown Prince’s Palace and thanked the crowd for its lively homage. Shortly after this, the Kaiser and the Kaiserin appeared, together with the imperial princes, on the balcony of the Palace and thanked the people for their lively homage. The crowd broke out in tumultuous cheers.
The speech that the Kaiser held to the jubilant crowd from the balcony of the Palace this afternoon was as follows:

"A grave hour has befallen Germany today. Envy everywhere leads us to defend ourselves, and justifiably so. The sword is being pressed into our hands. If my efforts at the last hour to preserve the peace and to chasten our adversaries are not successful, I hope that we will, with God’s help, wield our sword such that we can place it with honor in our sheath. War would demand enormous sacrifice of possessions and life from us. But our adversaries would discover what it means to antagonize Germany. And now I advise you to pray to God. Go now to church, kneel before God and beg Him to help our brave army."

Germany and Peace

Berlin, July 29. The "Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung" noted in today’s evening issue that the official Russian notification submitted yesterday, July 28, has caused lively reverberations here. The imperial government shares the desire to preserve peaceful relations. It hopes that the German people will support it from afar by the moderate and calm manner of its actions.

The Kaiser Calls to Arms

Baden's Grand Duke Friedrich II addresses the people of Baden (the state in which Ettlingen is situated) through an announcement in the Mittelbadischer Courier (and other local newspapers) on August 2, 1914:

My beloved people of Baden!
Our Kaiser calls to arms.
In the difficult battle that Germany is preparing to wage, the honor and existence of our Fatherland, as well as our highest and most sacred values, are at stake.
I know that my dear people will perform the difficult duties with which we will be confronted with absolute devotion and loyalty, especially our sons and brothers who will go to battle, and of whom I am certain and expect that they will – mindful of the military exploits of their fathers – bravely and selflessly risk their lives for the Fatherland. However, the other members of our community will also – of this I am certain – be prepared to make the most difficult sacrifices that must be called for, with true conviction.
God protect and preserve Germany!
Karlsruhe, August 2, 1914

The German Ultimatum to Russia

The Courier reports on more events in Berlin on July 31, the day of the outbreak of war. The Kaiser has sent an ultimatum to Russia to stop mobilization.

Berlin, July 31. The "Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung" officially reports: After the mediation activities performed by the Russian government upon the request of the Tsar himself were interrupted by the general mobilization of the Russian army and navy, the government of His Majesty the Kaiser today allowed it to be known in St. Petersburg that German mobilization is to be expected if Russia does not discontinue its preparations for war within 12 hours and issues a confirmation to this effect.
At the same time, an inquiry has been sent to the French government regarding its stance in the event of a German-Russian war.

The speediness and safety of our deployment requires the consistent and systematic leadership of the entire executive power

Freiherr von Hoiningen, a Prussian officer and the Commanding General of Karlsruhe's XIV Army Corps, addresses the population of the Karlsruhe district through the Mittelbadischer Courier on July 31, 1914:

To the population of the district of the XIV Army Corps
[this included Ettlingen]
His Majesty the Kaiser has declared a state of war in the German Empire. As regards national measures, this merely means that mobilization must be executed rapidly and smoothly, and not that the population need be concerned about the lack of national support. The speediness and safety of our deployment requires the consistent and systematic leadership of the entire executive power. If laws are tightened as a result of the declaration of war, then no one who observes the law and complies with the instructions issued by the authorities will be restricted in their actions as a result. I trust that the entire population will support all military and civil authorities joyfully and wholeheartedly and thus make it easier for us to fulfill our noble patriotic duties. The long-standing military glory of our army will thus be upheld and will persist in honor in the eyes of the Kaiser and the eyes of the nation.
Karlsruhe, July 31, 1914
The Commanding General
Freiherr von Hoiningen gen. Huene

Story This Week: The Ludendorff Spende für Kriegsbeschädigte

Our story this week concerns the Ludendorff fund, set up during the the First World War for disabled German soldiers. The cards have been provided by Rainer Görlacher, whose grandfather Karl Görlacher of Ettlingen fought in the Great War.

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (1865-1937) was a German general who was victorious at Liège and the Battle of Tannenberg during the Great War. In 1916, he was promoted to Erster Generalquartiermeister (Quartermaster General) and together with Paul von Hindenburg, became the chief power behind the management of Germany's military efforts in the First World War, until his resignation in 1918.

Erich Ludendorff:
"Ohne Opfer kein Sieg!
Ohne Sieg kein Friede!"

("No victory without sacrifice,
No peace without victory")

The Ludendorff Spende für Kriegsbeschädigte - the Ludendorff Fund for Disabled War Veterans - was set up in May 1918 by Emma Tscheuschner to assist war-disabled soldiers help transition back to civilian life. The fund collected around 150,000,000 Reichsmarks and continued until 1923, when it was dissolved probably due to the currency inflation of the Weimar Republic. Erich Ludendorff was the Honorary Chairman of the fund.

A number of postcards were printed and the proceeds from the sale of these cards went to the fund.

This depiction of a crippled soldier holding a set of tools was painted by Ludwig Hohlwein, a poster artist (1874-1949), and is one of the most cited postcards. This picture is in sharp contrast to the euphoric mood of the 1914 posters, which focused on feats of heroism and the honor of war.

Art nouveau poster for postcard by Wilhelm Schulz called "Ackerpflug Spendenkiste" (Field plough, donation box).

Donators were presented with this receipt:
"The owner of this certificate has donated 5 Marks for the Ludendorff Fund for Disabled War Veterans. I thank the donator on behalf of their war-disabled comrade.
The Honorary Chairman Ludendorff".

Poster for postcard by Olaf Guldbransson, a Norwegian artist, 1873-1958

This Week: Ettlingen Reports Assassination In Sarajevo

The Mittelbadischer Courier, Ettlingen's newspaper on June 30, 1914, reporting on the murders of the heirs to the Austrian throne in Sarajevo, Bosnia

Murder of the Heirs to the Austrian Throne
Serajewo, June 29. Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Duchess von Hohenberg, yesterday fell victim to an assassination. As the heir to the throne and his wife arrived yesterday morning in Serajewo, the capital of Bosnia, and were making their way to the City Hall in automobiles together with their retinue, a large crowd of people gathered on the streets to reverentially greet the ducal couple. Suddenly, a bomb was flung at the car of the heir to the throne. The Archduke reacted promptly to the danger, jumped up and threw the bomb to one side. It fell on the ground behind the car. A number of people in the crowd, as well as various gentlemen travelling in the car behind from the Archduke's retinue, were severely wounded by the exploding fragments. Oberstleutnant Graft Boos-Waldeck and Oberstleutnant Merezzi, the adjutant to the state leader of Bosnia, who had taken their seats in the car following the Archduke, were slightly injured, while four bystanders were severely injured. The perpetrator, who was struck to the ground by police who hurried to the scene, stated that his name was Gabrinoviz and that he was a typesetter by profession. He declared that he came from Herzegowina. 

Following this incident, the heir to the throne and his wife, who was extremely alarmed by the catastrophe, adjourned to the City Hall, where, deeply agitated, he addressed the Mayor with the following words, "We come with the most peaceful of intentions to visit Serajewo and we are greeted here with bombs". In his address the Mayor expressed his outrage at the cowardly act. The Archduke had one of his accompanying officers inform him of the condition of the wounded. He then boarded the automobile again together with his wife, to finish the tour through the the city as planned. But barely had the Archduke and his wife once again boarded the car, than a young person pushed forward through the crowd and before the police, racing towards him, could prevent it, delivered in quick succession several shots aimed at the Archduke and the Duchess von Hohenberg. The Archduke was hit by a shot to the face and was covered in blood. The Duchess, who had stood up in the car crying out loudly, received a shot to the abdomen and toppled over her seriously injured husband. The retinue attended to the severely injured couple and the Archduke and his wife were then brought at top speed to the Konal (the government building). The Archduke passed away on the way, while his wife breathed her last a few minutes later. Only with great effort were the police able to drag away the perpetrator who had fired the deathly shots from the angry crowd, who tried to lynch him. It is a 17-year old high school pupil in the 8th grade by the name of Prinizip, of Serbian origin, born in Grahovo on the Serbian border.

The article goes on to report on the reactions in Austria, Germany, Serbia, Hungary and Bosnia.

This Week: Privates Johann and Josef Berger

Our story this week comes from Franziska Langer of Ettlingenweier in the district of Ettlingen, whose father und uncle fought in the Great War.

Franziska's family was originally from Bavaria, but she has lived in Ettlingenweier most of her life. At the outbreak of war, the family owned a small farm in the village of Hintergrub, Bavaria. Back then, in order to be accepted by the community, a farmer's obligations were to build a house, plant a tree, and to produce a son and heir.

Franziska's father Johann Berger was born on August 20, 1877 in Hintergrub. Before the outbreak of war, he had already been called up for military training and in 1914, aged nearly 37, he was sent to fight in France.

Private Johann Berger, 1914

As a farmer, Johann had valuable experience in working with horses and as such he was entrusted with the task of looking after the horses with which his regiment went to battle.

Johann fought in the Ardennes, one of the opening battles of the First World War, and Sedan. He spent the rest of the war at the Western Front.

Johann survived the war and returned home, where in 1920 he married Anna, who was 20 years his junior and with whom he had a total of thirteen children. Franziska was the sixth child.

Johann died on January 24, 1949.

Franziska is still able to recite some of the songs of the Great War sung by her mother, such as "Der Gute Kamerad" ("The Good Comrade"):

Eine Kugel kam geflogen
Gilt sie mir oder gilt sie dir?
Ihn hat es weggerissen
Er liegt vor meinen Füssen
Als wär's ein Stück von mir.
Will mir die Hand noch reichen
Derweil ich eben lad.
"Kann dir die Hand nicht geben
Bleib du im ewigen Leben
Mein guter Kamerad.

The song is about two soldiers, one of whom is killed by a bullet that could have hit either one of them. The dying man reaches out to his friend, who cannot give him his hand because he is loading his rifle. His friend tells him, "Kann dir die Hand nicht geben, bleib du im ewigen Leben mein guter Kamerad" - "I can't give you my hand, but you will always remain my good comrade, in eternal life".

Anna and Johann with eight of their thirteen children in 1938

The other five children in 1938. Franziska is in the middle of the back row in this photo. Her brother Hans, next to her, was reported missing in World War II and did not return.

Johann's older brother, Josef Berger, was born in February 1875 and went to war together with his brother in 1914. He also returned home after the war in 1918, when he left the farm to live in Munich.

Private Josef Berger in 1914

Story Of The Week: Professor Karl Görlacher

Our story this week comes from Rainer Görlacher of Karlsruhe, whose grandfather Karl Görlacher of Ettlingen fought in the Great War.

Karl was born on September 21, 1869 in Villingen. He married Sophie Regensburger, born on February 19, 1880 in Eppingen. Their marriage took place on November 20, 1900 in Freiburg.

Karl and Sophie lived in the Bismarckstrasse in Ettlingen, and Karl worked as a teacher at the local school - the Realprogymnasium with Realschule - where he held the title of Professor.

Karl and Sophie Görlacher

By the outbreak of war in 1914, Karl and Sophie had three children: Gertrud, born in 1901 in Heidelberg, Hans, born in 1903 in Ettlingen and Werner, born in 1905 in Ettlingen.

Although Karl was almost 45 when the Great War broke out, he was called up to fight in August 1914. Karl held the rank of "Hauptmann der Landwehr", which is equivalent to a Captain.

This extract from the school's accounts records of December 10, 1914 shows that "the married Professor Karl Görlacher, employed at the Realprogymnasium with Realschule in Ettlingen has been called up as Hauptmann der Landwehr following military mobilization. According to notification by the military authorities, he will receive his monthly salary as 'battlefield remuneration' in August and September 1914 and from October 1, 1914 he will receive a monthly salary as a Hauptmann at the Ettlingen Military Preparation Establishment". (The figures in Reichsmark have been eliminated in this photo).

In his "War Diary" of 1914, Dr. Richard Barth, editor of Ettlingen's newspaper "Mittebadische Courier", reported the following on September 2, 1914. Here, he mentions that Professor Görlacher, brought wounded to the lazarett in Ettlingen, provides news on the fighting at the Vosges in France:
"At 12 o'clock, Town Councillor Buhl came to my office. He reported that wounded soldiers transported to Karlsruhe brought the news that the French had once again penetrated German territory at Saarburg. He reminded me that the French Supreme Commander had announced that he would send his troops to the threatened northern part of France. Buhl believes that this maneuver was intended to confuse the Germans, as our wounded arriving from Alsace, such as the sick Professor Görlacher, report that the French have large numbers of armed forces at the Vosges. He considers it worrying that we are no longer hearing anything from the army of the Crown Prince of Bavaria [Prince Ruprecht of Bavaria] other than that they have stalled at the fort belt and the last news we had was that they and the army of the Crown Prince [presumably of Germany, Prince Wilhelm] are in battle with the French.

Karl with his pupils, a pre-war photo

Strict accounts of the payments to men called up to fight from the school were kept in the school's accounts records.
Karl's entry is shown on the left (the figures in Reichsmark have been eliminated in the photo).

Karl together with his colleagues. An arrow has been inserted to show where Karl is standing.

Karl survived the war and returned to Ettlingen, where he once again took up his position as Professor at the school. He and Sophie had one more child, sadly, their son was stillborn on July 28th, 1919.

This photo shows Karl with his colleagues in the 1920s. Karl is standing directly in front of the stove. In contrast with the photo above, there are now four ladies on the teaching staff.

Karl died on March 9, 1943 in Karlsruhe, but he is buried in Ettlingen. Sophie died on May 24, 1945 in Furtwangen.

This Week's Story: Parades and Feldmesse

This week our story contains original photographs sent from both the Eastern and Western Fronts, of parades and the "Feldmesse" (field church service).

This photo was sent by Tor Kiefer to his family in a letter dated August 24, 1916. Tor's regiment is fighting near the Stokhid (Stochod) river on the Eastern Front at this time, and is lying between Polish and Austrian legions.
Tor served in the RIR 249 and later in the RIR 250.

"Hab acht!" Tor writes on the back, which means "Stand to attention!"

"The German and Austrian officers in front of the altar" Tor captions this photo.

Tor's regiment joined the mass held by the Austrians on August 18, 1916, in honor of the Austrian Kaiser Franz Josef's 86th birthday. The Austrians were very pleased that the Germans participated in the mass. The Kaiser died 4 months later.

It was a Catholic mass, a "Feldmesse". A Protestant service would have been a "Feldgottesdienst".

This photo was sent by Rudolf Kessler to his family from the Western Front.

The troops are marching past a commanding officer. Rudolf served in the Leibgrenadier-Regiment 109.

Rudolf also sent this photo, which shows troops on parade and about to be inspected by a commanding officer approaching from the left.

Story This Week: Grenadier Nikolaus Maurer

This week our story comes from Hermann Sattler of Ettlingenweier in the district of Ettlingen, whose grandfather on his mother's side fought in the Great War.

Nikolaus Maurer was born on December 6, 1882 and joined up to fight at the outbreak of war.


Nikolaus' Military Pass book, which was held by his company. The Military Pass recorded all the soldier's missions, the battles he had fought in and the type of warfare (such as trench warfare) that he had participated in. It also recorded any stays in the lazaret and vaccinations (as shown in the Pass above). The "Soldbuch" on the other hand, remained with the soldier and served as an identification document as well as recording the soldier's salary and the equipment he had been issued with.

The missions, battles and types of warfare are shown here, together with dates.

Nikolaus fought on the Western Front, with the 2nd Badische Grenadier-Regiment No. 110, at the Battles of the Somme and the Marne. He was wounded twice.

Nikolaus survived the war and died on March 15, 1956.

Hermann has also provided us with this photo of wounded soldiers sitting outside the lazaret set up at Ettlingen's Palace, in December 1915.