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.

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