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.

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