Story This Week: Private Karl Friedrich Baader

This week's story is brought to us by retired parson Engelbert Baader of Ettlingen Town. Engelbert's father Karl Friedrich Baader was born on July 18, 1898 and served as a private in the Great War.

Karl kept a diary during his time at the front and some excerpts from this diary will be shown in the section Diaries.

Karl was working as a lathe operator at the company Lorenz in Ettlingen when the war started. In his diary, he writes "I worked as an apprentice until August 1914, when the war broke out. I wanted to sign up as a volunteer, but Father wouldn't allow it".

After his 18th birthday, Karl was finally able to sign up and in November 1916 he was sent to Emmendingen in South Baden for recruit training. On May 29, 1917, his unit set off for the battlefields, and on the next day, the unit was greeted personally by the Grand Duke of Baden in Mannheim. On May 31st, 1917, Karl arrived in Beverloo in Flanders, on the western front. In his diary, Karl describes this as "the Algiers of the German foreign legion".

Karl belonged to the 38th Infantry Division of the "94" Thüringen Regiment, which was located in Flanders. In his diary, Karl records that the unit was in Merpen near Antwerp in early August of 1917 and positioned forces in late August. By September 5, 1917, they had been on the front continuously for six days.

Karl was brought to the lazaret (small military hospital) on several occasions, the first on October 23, 1917, when he was shot in the left hand. Barely back in the field, he was sent back to the lazaret in November 1917 with appendicitis. Interestingly, such a large number of the men were suffering from appendicitis that the lazaret undertook several tests to find out if there was a common cause. We have no information regarding the results of these tests.

In December 1917, Karl was back at the front in Flanders, at Passchendaele. The Battle of Passchendaele, or the Third Battle of Ypres, had taken place between July and November 1917, and the conditions had been among the worst of the war. On December 1, 1917, Karl writes of Passchendaele in his diary, "Our position is lousy. Many a soldier falls into the Flanders mud and dies a miserable death". The heavy rain and mud at Passchendaele were notorious, made movement difficult and little artillery could be brought very close to the front as a result.

In July 1918, Karl was positioned near Lille and at the end of August he was at Colmar.

In his diary entry of August 29, 1918, Karl writes that everyone is returning from the Battle of the Somme. This was the Second Battle of the Somme, which resulted in heavy casualities and losses. Karl records "When you think how very many have fallen, then it makes you very sad. My general impression is that something has gone very wrong. Nobody wants to follow orders properly any more. How will it all end?"

On September 1, 1918, Karl was once again in the lazaret with a shot in his upper leg. As a result, he was sent to a lazaret in the Rhineland in Germany, where he stayed until the end of the war in November 1918.

Karl died on March 1, 1960.

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