Story This Week: Grenadier Nikolaus Maurer

This week our story comes from Hermann Sattler of Ettlingenweier in the district of Ettlingen, whose grandfather on his mother's side fought in the Great War.

Nikolaus Maurer was born on December 6, 1882 and joined up to fight at the outbreak of war.


Nikolaus' Military Pass book, which was held by his company. The Military Pass recorded all the soldier's missions, the battles he had fought in and the type of warfare (such as trench warfare) that he had participated in. It also recorded any stays in the lazaret and vaccinations (as shown in the Pass above). The "Soldbuch" on the other hand, remained with the soldier and served as an identification document as well as recording the soldier's salary and the equipment he had been issued with.

The missions, battles and types of warfare are shown here, together with dates.

Nikolaus fought on the Western Front, with the 2nd Badische Grenadier-Regiment No. 110, at the Battles of the Somme and the Marne. He was wounded twice.

Nikolaus survived the war and died on March 15, 1956.

Hermann has also provided us with this photo of wounded soldiers sitting outside the lazaret set up at Ettlingen's Palace, in December 1915.

This Week: Private Alfred Schottmüller

Our photos and stories this week once again come from 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. Brigitte's family collected the memorial cards of friends and others who had fallen, as well as postcards sent home from the Front.

A typical postcard sent home during the Great War. The theme of many of these romanticized portrayals of the Front was to let the soldier's loved one (girlfriend, wife) know that he had died "true" to her.

"Und sag' ihr, dass ich treu,
Ihr treu gestorben sei.
Es soll nicht sein, ich kehr' nicht heim
Nach Stolzenfels am Rhein".

"And tell her that I died
True only unto her.
'Twas not to be, I'll not return
To Stolzenfels am Rhein".

Alfred Schottmüller was a friend of the family and a member of Spessart's Choral Society. A photo he sent home, taken at Christmas at the Front, is shown here. Alfred is standing and marked by the x in this photo.

Alfred served with the Infantrie Ersatz Bataillon 110, which was assigned to the 28th Division of the German Army. He spent the latter part of 1914 and early 1915 in training at the 8th Korps recruit training center in Heidelberg-Schwetzingen.

The recruits of the Ersatz Bataillon 110 at Heidelberg-Schwetzingen in early 1915. Alfred is standing at the far right of this photo, marked again by the x.

In August 1918, the bataillon was stationed in trench warfare in the Champagne region on the Western Front. Alfred fell on August 15, 1918 at Maronvilliers.

This Week: Private Hermann Baader

This week our story is brought to us by retired parson Engelbert Baader of Ettlingen Town. Engelbert's uncle Hermann Baader was born on June 12, 1896 and served as a private in the Great War.

Hermann was 18 when war broke out, and was therefore able to sign up straight away. His brother Karl was also eager to join the army, but because he was only 16 their father would not allow it. However, excited by the prospect of one day being able to fight at the front, Karl visited his brother Hermann during his period of military training at Rastatt, near Ettlingen, and Schwetzingen near Heidelberg.

Private Hermann Baader in 1914 at the age of 18.

After training, Hermann was sent to the Eastern Front, while his brother Karl, who joined up in 1916, fought at the Western Front. Despite the difficult weather conditions and heavy fighting in Russia, Hermann survived and returned to Ettlingen, where he married his wife Ida in 1923. Following Ida's death, Hermann later remarried in 1936, this time to Martha, with whom he had a son.

Hermann died on June 10, 1969 in Karlsruhe.

Story Of The Week: Landsturmmann Wilhelm Kunz

Our story this week comes from our town's municipal archives, the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen. The archives hold the pocketbook of Landsturmmann Wilhelm Kunz, of Ettlingen Town. We have no photos of Wilhelm, and, as his papers have been submitted to the archives, he appears to have no living relatives. However, we have been able to discover a number of details based on the pocketbook and official records.

Landsturmmann Wilhelm Kunz's pocketbook (Notizbuch)

Wilhelm was born on February 4, 1874 in Ettlingen Town. He first entered the army at the age of 22 on October 14, 1896, when he joined the ranks of the 12th Company, IR 113 in Freiburg. In 1899, he left the army to get married.

Extract from Wilhelm's "Soldbuch", showing details of his military history

Wilhelm had trained to be a carpenter, and he took up this trade when he married Josefine Rosa, with whom he lived in the Schöllbronnerstrasse in Ettlingen.

Wilhelm and Josefine had three children together: Rosa, Wilhelm and Elise.

Wilhelm returned to the army on June 25, 1915. This time, he joined the 3rd Company of the Armierungsbataillon No. 114, with whom he served at the Eastern Front in Russian Poland until January 10, 1916.

During the Great War, the Armierungsbataillons were pioneer-type troops of the German army. They were deployed primarily to set up defence systems and trenches, but also streets and border fortifications.

The photo above shows an extract from Wilhelm's "Militärpass" (the soldier's identification document in the Great War). We can see that it must have been close to a fire.

The photo on the left shows an extract from Wilhelm's short diary. He mainly recorded where he was located, and how many kilometers the unit had marched on particular days.


Wilhelm's Soldbuch and his Militärpass. The Soldbuch was the soldier's paybook and record of equipment issued.

On January 10, 1916, Wilhelm was released from duty at the Front to go and work at the Badische Anilin und Sodafabrik (Baden Aniline and Soda Factory - BASF) in Ludwigshafen.

It is unclear whether he was released following a period spent in the lazaret due to illness or injury. However, Wilhelm spent 14 months working at BASF, after which he returned to the Front, where this time he joined the 3rd Company Ersatzbataillon of the Landwirtschaftliches Infantry Regiment No. 116.

Wilhelm was admitted to the lazaret on December 1, 1917 due to illness, according to the statement issued on the left, where he remained until March 23, 1918.

Altogether, he was with the IR 116 from March 1, 1917 until November 24, 1918, when he was discharged. The documents also record that he received a civilian's suit (the "demob" suit).

He returned home to his family. His wife Josefine died in 1944 in Ettlingen, and his daughter Rosa in 1931, also in Ettlingen. His daughter Elise died in the 1980s in Karlsruhe and his son, also called Wilhelm, emigrated to the USA. Wilhelm himself died in Karlsruhe near Ettlingen on September 11, 1941.

This Week's Story: Top Brass

This week our story consists of photos and brief descriptions of some of the military commanders who led the Central Powers during the Great War. The photos shown here were contained in letters sent from the battlefields by soldiers from Ettlingen, which have recently been discovered by their families. The photos are copyright of the Stadtarchiv Ettlingen.

Generalleutnant Hermann von Stein, 1854-1927

This photo was sent by Rudolf Kessler of Ettlingen to his family on July 28 1915. Rudolf served in the Badische Leib-Grenadier Regiment 109, 28th Reserve Division XIV Reserve Army Corps.

Generalleutnant von Stein commanded the XIV Reserve Corps from September 14, 1914. During the Great War, he was a Prussian officer, General of the artillery and Minister of War. He was awarded the Iron Cross I and II Class, and the medal Pour le Mérite.

Rudolf writes: "I'm sending you this picture of our Corps Commander, His Excellency Generalleutnant von Stein. I'm safe and sound, and hope you all are as well".

His Royal Highness the Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden visits his Leibgrenadiers in the trenches

Rudolf sent this photo, which was printed on a postcard, to his family in Ettlingen on February 17, 1916. In his letter, Rudolf thanks his parents for the package they sent him and the meatballs it contained.

Grand Duke Friedrich II of Baden (1857-1928) was the last Grand Duke of Baden (the state in which Ettlingen is situated), abdicating on November 22, 1918 as a result of the German Revolution of 1918/19 which abolished the Grand Duchy.

For health reasons, Friedrich was unable to actively serve in the Great War, but he held the ranks of Generaloberst and Generalfeldmarschall. He was the leader of the Badische Leibgrenadier Regiment 109 based in Karlsruhe.

This photo was contained in a letter of August 24,1916 from Tor Kiefer of Ettlingen, and is captioned "Polish legion and Reserve Infantry Regiment 249".

Tor tells his family that his company (the RIR 249) is lying between parts of the Polish legion and the Austrian regiments. "Of course", Tor writes, "relationships are established. We make jokes about the Austrians as they do about us. The Polish legion consists of volunteers and is an excellent troop".

Legend of numbers for Polish legion:
1: Div. Kom. Janusz von Gluckowski
2: Rgt. Kom. Ritter von Belina-Prazmowski
3: Esk. Kom. Oberleutnant von Saruski
4: Esk. Kom. Oberleutnant Skarga-Guertig
5: Brig. Adj. Leutnant von Mieschszkowski
6: Zugs-Kom. Leutnant von Felszynski
7: Zugs-Kom. Leutnant von Kulesza

In the center is Oberstleutnant Laue, with others from the RIR 249:
Hpt. Freiherr von Schönau Wehr
Regt. Adj. Oberleutnant Leuthner
Feldwebel Lt. Lindemann

This photo was also sent by Rudolf Kessler to his family. Unfortunately it has no caption and no date, but we can see that it shows an important parade with officers and a band.