This Week: Karl Albiker - A Bridling Yoke In 1919 Europe

Our story this week is based on a letter from the Ettlingen sculptor Karl Albiker, discovered in our town's archive, combined with his sculptures in our town's museum and located around the town.

Karl Albiker and Oskar Kiefer, two Ettlingen sculptors, were also friends who exchanged a good deal of correspondence. After the Great War, Oskar Kiefer designed the "anti-war memorial" shown in the section List Of Fallen. During the war, he also worked as a driver behind the front lines.

Karl Albiker was born in 1878 near Freiburg. He studied with Rodin in Paris and in 1905 moved to Ettlingen, which he made his home until his death in 1961. Karl joined up to serve in the war as a volunteer in 1915, but in 1917 was severely wounded when he fell from his horse, and was declared unfit for war service in 1918.

In a letter found in our town's archive, dated November 4, 1918 - one week before the end of the war - and addressed to his friend Oskar Kiefer, Karl Albiker expresses his relief to hear that Oskar, serving behind the front lines, is well - although he would have been happier to hear that he was not in the field at all, Karl says. The war is coming to an end, the American president Woodrow Wilson is pushing for his "14 Points" postwar peace proposal to be accepted and Karl asks, how will the Europe of 1919 look?

"I was very pleased to receive a sign of a life from you from the field, after you disappeared from the face of the earth at such short notice. Of course, I would have been much happier not to have received word from you in the field. Now I can only hope that you are riding your steed somewhere in safety, where you can await the liquidation of this sad undertaking. This is not a happy time and what is to come will probably hit us harder than you out there! We all know the proverb of the pitcher that goes to the well until it breaks, but nobody could have imagined that the end would suddenly come crashing upon us at such a speed. What will the Europe of 1919 look like? I regret now that I am not a lithographer. One could have at least earned one's living as a cartographer afterwards. There certainly won't be any victory monuments now. What a terrible world! Meanwhile, we wait to see, calmly and with dignity, what bridling yoke Mr. Wilson intends to impose upon us. We are, after all, used to waiting and lobbying higher authorities. I hope to see you back here soon."

Karl Albiker (1878-1961)
Fallender Krieger (Falling Soldier)
Model for a memorial in Greiz, Thuringia, 1926
Bronze Wvz. KA 161
Ettlingen Museum/Palace

Karl Albiker, 1913
Figures, Town Park, Ettlingen

Karl Albiker, The Young River Alb
Friedrichstrasse, Ettlingen
Created posthumously in 1964/65 by Walter Rössler from a design by Karl Albiker

This Week's Story: The Soldiers Of Spessart Part 1

Our photos and stories this week are brought to us by Brigitte Weber of Ettlingen-Spessart, which lies in the hills above Ettlingen Valley. Brigitte's uncles Josef Martus and Albert Fang both fought and died in Laffaux on the Western Front. Friends and acquaintances from Spessart often sent postcards and photos from the front, and the family also collected the memorial cards of those who had fallen.

The memorial at Spessart to those who fell in the Great War

The names of the fallen of Spessart in the form of a prayerbook leaflet

Those who fell from Spessart's choral society

Brigitte's Uncle Bernhard Fang, brother of her uncle Albert Fang, who fell at Laffaux. Bernhard served in the Reserve Batallion of the Foot Artillery Regiment No. 14 at the Western Front. He survived the war and went on to have four children and twenty-three grandchildren.

A postcard from the front sent by Bernhard on November 22, 1917.
He writes: "Dear Parents, I received your package with joy and thanks. Today I am back in the lazarett and will come out on the 27th. I don't have much more time to write. If only you knew what we are going through here. I dreamed about Albert again all night" (his brother Albert who had died four weeks previously).

Josef Weber was a young friend of the family who died at the front on April 25, 1917

Wilhelm Rauenbühler and Karl Lauinger (right) of Spessart, friends of the family.
Karl fell at the front on October 19, 1915

Story This Week: Bahnobersekretär Adolf Sattler

Our story this week comes from Hermann Sattler of Ettlingenweier, whose grandfather on his father's side fought on the Western Front at the Somme, Flanders and Kemmel in the Great War.

Adolf Sattler was born on November 18, 1888 and before the war he worked at the company Dynamit Nobel-DWM in Karlsruhe, Ettlingen's nearest city. Here, he tested and fired the weapons that were produced there.

Adolf's own weapon, a 7.92 mm caliber 1898 Mauser model, with bayonet attached

Adolf was a Bahnobersekretär (Senior Railway Secretary) in the Badische Feldartillerie in a Rastatt regiment. He earned the Kriegsverdienstkreuz (medal for war service in Baden).

Adolf's steel helmet. In 1916, steel helmets were introduced at the front, and in 1918, this camouflage painting (known as Tarnbemalung in German) was added.

Adolf survived the war and subsequently worked for the railways, both at Ettlingen-Bruchhausen and Rastatt. He died on October 14, 1956.

Hermann has also provided us with the memorial cards of two other soldiers from Ettlingenweier who served with Adolf and who fell at the Western Front:

Josef Vielsäcker, who held the rank of Pionier. Josef was born on May 28, 1898 in Ettlingenweier and fell on October 20, 1917 in St. August, France
The memorial cards were distributed in church and contained a "Nachlassgebet" ("abatement" prayer), intended to reduce the number of days that the soldier had to suffer in Purgatory for his actions in battle.
Emil Speck served in the 94th Infantry Regiment as an officer (lieutenant and company commander) and was born on June 18, 1896. He fell at the Western Front at the Somme on May 1st, 1917 and lies buried at Selvien in France.

This Week's Story: Musketeer Albert Fang

Our story this week comes from Brigitte Weber of Ettlingen-Spessart. Her uncle Albert Fang, born on January 7, 1897 in Spessart, fought on the Western Front during the Great War. Albert fought with the Infantry Regiment No. 111 and held the rank of Musketeer.

Musketeer Albert Fang, January 7, 1897 - October 20, 1917

This photo, sent home to his family, shows Albert with his fellow soldiers in front of their dugout. Albert is standing at the far left, marked by the X. The other X marks a friend of his also known to his family.
The soldiers have hung up a sign "Villa Gansrieme" outside the dugout, which is the name they have given to their trench home.

Albert fell at the Western Front in the tiny village of Laffaux, France, on October 20, 1917, at the age of 20.

Albert's memorial card.
Baden is predominantly Catholic. It was believed that soldiers had to suffer in Purgatory for their actions in war. The memorial cards were distributed in church after the mass, and contained a "Nachlassgebet" ("abatement" prayer), intended to reduce the number of days that the soldier had to spend in Purgatory for these actions.

This Week: Privates Leopold Maisch and Robert Laub

This week our story comes from Mathilde Heinrichs (born Laub) of Ettlingen-Spessart. Both Mathilde's grandfathers served at the Western Front as privates in the Great War.

Leopold Maisch, the father of Mathilde's mother, was born on August 17, 1888 in Ettlingen-Oberweier. He was married to Rosa, who worked as a midwife. Their daughter Hedwig was Mathilde's mother.

Leopold in uniform with his wife Rosa, a midwife, and daughter Rosa (Mathilde's aunt)

After the war, Leopold worked for the German railways and died in Ettlingen-Oberweier on January 1, 1975.

Mathilde's father's father, Robert Laub, was born on August 13, 1884 to Maria Laub (1844-1924) and Johann Laub (1835-1916).

He is shown in this photo together with his parents.

Upon returning home, Robert received the official letter of thanks presented to all the soldiers from Baden who had fought in the War, from "The Temporary People's Government of Baden", on November 16, 1918. Although it states that it is signed by "The President", it bears 11 signatures.

The Kaiser had fled to Holland, and Germany had become a republic. The country was in the hands of workers' and soldiers' councils.

The letter contains the line "Späte Jahrhunderte werden noch von Eurem Ruhme sprechen" - "You will be renowned for hundreds of years to come", which is an interesting quote in light of the centenary of the Great War this year.

In addition to his work as a gardener, Robert was very active as a paramedic for the town of Ettlingen in a Red Cross-type organization.

He died on January 29, 1953.