Story This Week: Kitchen Chef August Goldschmidt

Our story this week comes from Maria Goldschmidt of Ettlingen-Spessart, whose grandfather on her father's side served at the Western Front in the Great War.

August was born on November 7, 1879 in Karlsruhe-Durlach and came from a long line of blacksmiths - the family could trace their trade in Durlach back through six generations. August, however, went to work as a chef in the Hotel Wilhelmshöhe in Ettlingen, where he met his future wife Christine, from Ettlingen-Spessart.

Christine and August had four children together, but she passed away in 1916 at the age of 35. As Christine's family came from Spessart, the children were dispersed to friends and relatives in the village, as August had been called up to the army at the outbreak of war in 1914.

August with his unit and other members of the kitchen staff at the Western Front. August is the first on the left in this photo

August worked as a kitchen chef at the Western Front but as the war progressed, he was eventually called up to fight. He fell on September 25, 1918 and is buried at the military cemetry in Lille.

August with other kitchen staff. August is the first on the left.

Treasured by Maria: one of August's favorite cake molds

This Week: Post From The Western Front

This week we return to Sergeant Rudolf Kessler from Ettlingen Town, who fought on the Western Front at Champagne,Verdun and the Somme.

Rudolf wrote home regularly to his family in Ettlingen and his letters included a great number of photos from the front. The landscapes of the western front battlefields contained large amounts of chalk. Rudolf made chalk carvings while serving at the front, memorials of the Champagne offensives and the battles at La Boisselle and Loretto, which can be seen here in our Memorabilia section.

Rudolf sent home this photo of a 21 cm Mörser in artillery position on the Western Front

In February 1917, a friend of Rudolf's, Georg Roth, wrote a postcard to the Kessler family in Ettlingen. Georg was in the Baden Field Artillery Regiment No. 76 and the regiment had been stationed at the Somme throughout the fierce trench warfare battles that took place at the end of 1916 and the beginning of 1917.

The postcard that Georg sends is a photo of his trench at the Somme:

He writes: "After a very long stay with varied experiences, we have now left the Somme and currently all is quiet. This picture is a souvenir of our command post at the Somme. You will have heard that our dear Robert has passed away, it is not clear whether this was due to injuries or illness. Please forgive me that I have not written for so long. I hope you are all well, as am I."

Georg Roth is referring in his letter to Robert Schuler of Ettlingen, born on June 7, 1897, who fell in the Battle of the Somme, sourthern Serre, on November 23, 1916. Robert had trained as a commercial clerk and both he and Georg worked for Rudolf Kessler's father.

Georg's letter of February 24, 1917 in Sütterlin (old German script)

A photo sent home by Rudolf of captured French prisoners at the Western Front

This Week's Story: Sergeant Josef Brehm

Our story this week comes to us from Maria Goldschmidt of Ettlingen-Spessart, whose grandfather on her mother's side, Josef Brehm, served as a Sergeant on the Western Front in the Great War.

Josef was born on September 29, 1881 and could trace his family's roots in Ettlingen-Spessart back to 1790. At a young age, he joined the military to train with the 5th Badische Infantry Regiment No. 13, 6th Company, in Freiburg, where he held the rank of Musketeer.

When war was declared, Josef joined up to fight on the Western Front in the Alsace. In 1914, he held the rank of Sergeant.

Josef Brehm with his wife and four children

Josef was stationed for a long period of the war at the Hartmansweilerkopf in the Alsace, a strategic area that was bitterly fought over. The most severe fighting occurred in January, March, April and December 1915. Some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place during these battles, with the French Chasseurs Alpins pitted against the German Sturmtruppen. It is estimated that around 30,000 French and German troops lost their lives here.

Josef is second from the left in this photo, which was taken with other officers on September 27, 1914. Apparently they had a dog, which can just be seen at the back

Out on patrol. Josef is second from left in this photo

Sergeant Josef Brehm on November 6, 1917 in Colmar, Alsace

A photo from 1914. Josef is standing second from left in this photo

Josef survived and returned home to his family. After the War, he worked at Eto, a company in the foodstuffs industry, in Ettlingen. He died on January 6, 1975.

Josef's bayonet and dagger

Josef's Iron Cross

Story Of The Week: Unteroffizier Berthold Görig

Our story this week comes from Hermann Sattler of Ettlingenweier, whose great-uncle Berthold Görig fought in the Foot Artillery, Batallion XIV in the Great War.

Berthold was born on January 16, 1870, and joined the military at the age of 20 in 1890. He first held the rank of Kanonier, and on April 23, 1896, he was promoted to the rank of Unteroffizier. At the beginning of the 20th century, he returned to work on his land in Ettlingenweier, where he was a farmer. After war was declared, he joined up again in 1915.

Berthold joins the ranks again in 1915 as an Unteroffizier

Berthold's service medal and leather wrist watchstrap. This is an unusual item, which was designed to hold a watch previously used as a pocket watch

Berthold's "Schiessbuch". This book contained the soldier's individual shooting record. We can see that the Schiessbuch must have been kept since Berthold first joined the military, as his personal information, including rank and batallion, has been changed by hand.

Berthold's "Soldbuch". This was the pay book carried by every member of the German armed forces. It contained unit information, a record of all equipment issued, and other important details.

Inside the "Soldbuch". We can see that Berthold would have once again had a brief period at home to tend the land, and returned to the military on March 1, 1917.

As a successful and respected farmer in Ettlingenweier, Berthold was a highly regarded member of the local community. In March 1918, while he was in the field, the village of Ettlingenweier elected him to the office of Mayor, and the military released him from service for this purpose.

Telegram from the authorities in Ettlingenweier to Berthold, informing him that he had been elected as Mayor.

The letter from the village authorities on March 28th, 1918 to Berthold's military company, requesting that he be released from military service to take up his office as Mayor.

The approvals by the military authorities

Berthold Görig as Mayor of Ettlingenweier

While Berthold was at home serving his term as Mayor, soldiers were billeted at his house, which was a common practice at the time. A billeting note that he received is shown below.

A soldier called Stobel was billeted at Berthold's house. If Berthold had handed in the "Quartierzettel", he would have received money, but apparently he kept it rather than claiming for the billet.

In September 1918, shortly before the end of the war, Berthold received tentative call-up papers informing him of how he needed to conduct himself should he be called up. Fortunately for him, the war ended before he could be called up.

The tentative call-up papers