This section contains Great War memorabilia, as well as some personal stories.
Rolf Kessler of Ettlingen has contributed the story of his father Rudolf Kessler, who served as a staff sergeant on the western front.
The landscapes of the western front battlefields included a large amount of chalk. Rudolf made the following chalk carvings while serving at the front:
The inscription is "Den in den Kämpfen um Loretto ruhmreich gefallenen Helden. Die 28.I.D" (Dedicated to the glorious fallen heroes of the battles of Loretto, 28th Infantry Division).
The Battle of Loretto or the Second Battle of Artois was fought on the Western Front from May 9, 1915 to June 18, 1915.
In the 28th ID, the 40th Fusilier Regiment was part of the 56th Brigade, along with the 111th Infantry Regiment. Both regiments fought with heavy losses in defence of the Loretto-Hohe in 1915. The 28th I.D. was transferred from the Champagne to the Verdun front in early February 1917.
Rudolf has inscribed the carving 1914-1916, although the battle took place in 1915. We assume that he finished the carving in 1916 and that this date refers to the time he had served on the front up to this point.
Some of Rudolf Kessler's personal possessions are shown here:
Rudolf's boots, which still have the mud of the trenches on the soles
A hand grenade and bits of shrapnel. We believe that these might be bits of shrapnel that were removed from Rudolf's leg
Beatrix Braun of Ettlingen has provided us with the story of her paternal grandfather Sergeant Franz Alois Lemmen, who served as a doctor's secretary at the front. Beatrix's maternal grandfather, Florian Castellazzi, was Italian, with close ties to the Black Forest in Germany. His tobacco pouch, bearing the inscription "Verdun 1916" is shown below.
Florian's tobacco pouch, bearing the inscription "Verdun 1916".
We are not sure how the tobacco pouch came to be in Florian's possession, as Italian soldiers were not stationed at Verdun.
The pouch with the original matchsticks
Florian was born in 1885 in Asso, in northern Italy, near Lake Como. In 1903, when he was 18 years old, he came to the Black Forest. He was the youngest in the family, and all his older brothers had already left Italy to work in the Black Forest.
Florian's uncle had come to Germany in his mid-20s to work on tunnel construction in the Black Forest railways.
During the Great War, the whole family returned to Asso. From there, Florian was sent to Verdun, where he served in the Italian army. After the War, due to poverty and possibly their yearning for the Black Forest, the brothers returned to Germany.
Florian married a Black Forest girl and remained there for the rest of his life.
Florian Castellazzi, who fought in the Italian army during the Great War and then married a girl from the Black Forest, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Zeiss binoculars, made in 1914