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

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