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

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