WW1 German soldier recalls moment he bayoneted foe to death
A series of previously unseen interviews with First World War veterans are to be made available online via the BBC iPlayer. Here is the transcript of one of them. Stefan Westmann was a German medical student when called up for national service in April 1914. He served as a Corporal with the 29th later as a Medical Officer.
Gunther Pluschow: A German PoW who escaped from Britain to Germany
Gunther Pluschow was the only German servicemen to escape from Britain after breaking out of a First World War POW camp in Derbyshire. He showed amazing effort - swimming across the Thames Estuary and hiding aboard a Dutch steamer ship - and enjoyed good luck during his daring escape in 1915. After returning to Germany he received a hero's welcome and was granted the Iron Cross First Class. Now his amazing adcenture is told in a book called "Gunther Pluschow - Airman, Escaper and Explorer," written by Anton Rippon.
Germany still paying off First World War reparations because of the Treaty of Versailles
Germany is still paying off the 'reparations' demanded from it after the end of the Great War. The German Finance Agency revealed tens of millions of euros are still being transferred to individuals holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles signed on June 28, 1919. The bonds were issued at the time to investors. With the signing of the Versailles accord Germany accepted blame for the war. Article 231 of the treaty - the war guilt clause - declared Germany and Austria-Hungary responsible for all "loss and damage" suffered by the Allies and laid out the basis for reparations. The treaty was hated by Germans and catapulted the Nazis into power.
Biography profiles heroic WWI German general Baron Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein [book review]
"The Desert Baron: Friedrich: A Warrior for All Seasons" - by Conrad Crease - explores one of the most decorated German First World War generals, Baron Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein. The Desert Baron outlines his many feats, like leading 20,000 men for over 150 miles through the Sinai Desert in an attack on the Suez Canal, and leading the Turks in the Battle of Romani. The book also describes his work to save the Armenians from Turkish genocide, the Georgians from both the invading Turks and the Bolsheviks of the Russian Revolution. Kressenstein - who won 21 decorations by 9 kingdoms and countries - also smashed Adolf Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch in 1923.
Ethnic Germans' Sufferings After WWI in the United States and Europe
German-Americans were the most visible non-Anglophone group in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries. Upon the start of the First World War, anti-German feelings rapidly reached fever pitch. Many Germans supported their (former) homeland's side in the war, in which America long remained formally neutral. The situation came to a crisis with America's entry into the war in 1917. By the time the soldiers returned from Europe, the German community had ceased to be a major force in American culture, or was no more viewed as German. In Canada thousands of German born Canadians were interned in detention camps and subjected to forced labour.
Motorcycle believed to have carried the German Kaiser's letter of surrender
A motorcycle thought to have carried the German Kaiser's letter of surrender to the Allies at the end of World War I is to go on show in Denbighshire. Built in 1916, the 550cc Triumph Model H will take centre stage at the first Llangollen Motorbike Show. Owner Brad Jones says the vintage bike is a piece of world history. "I acquired the Triumph back in 1997... The bike had been in the same family since the early 1920s, with the father of the person I bought it off being a colonel in the British Army, who kept the bike when he left the forces. It came with letters from previous riders... stating they believed this was the very bike that carried the letter of surrender."
Rehearsals - A detailed look at the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914
Their possessions slung over shoulders, a small group of Belgians is leaving their country for fear of being killed by German soldiers. Jeff Lipkes had one look at the painting and knew it would work well on the cover of his book, "Rehearsals," a look at the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914. The book traces the killing of nearly 6,000 people and the burning of 25,000 buildings during a 3-week period. Although those acts usually have been ignored as propaganda, Lipkes states that the carnage was real and "part of a deliberate campaign of terrorism ordered by military authorities."
Germany: A Neurotic Nation - still unable to come to terms with its past
Death of Germany's last known veteran of the First World War, Erich Kastner, was significant because it shows the neurosis that Germany still suffers from. Unlike most other countries that took part in World War 1, Germany doesn't pay much attention to the people of that time, and WWI veterans aren't commemorated. The Great War is seen as part of a historical line that led to the Second World War. Therefore, any form of commemoration is problematic. All this demonstrates how deeply planted victor's justice has become within the German psyche. WWI was an unjust war from all sides, and should not be remembered as a struggle between good and evil...
Last German WWI Veteran, Erich Kästner, believed to have died
In Britain and other countries, the death of a World War I veteran makes headlines. Not in Germany. The man considered to have been the last surviving soldier of the Imperial German Army died on Jan. 1, aged 107. No official verification was available, since Germany keeps no records on its veterans from the two world wars. Dr. Erich Kästner, born on March 10, 1900, died on Jan 1, 2008 (based on an announcement by his family). He joined up in July 1918, 4 months before the end of the war, and served on the Western Front. Only one other WWI veteran is thought to be living in Germany: Franz Künstler, who served in the Austro-Hungarian empire's army.
Herero offered apology for 1904 German massacre
The descendants of Lothar von Trotha, a German military commander who instigated the mass slaughter of Herero people, have met with their representatives to apologise for the actions of their ancestor. Representatives of the von Trotha family visited the chiefs of 6 Herero royal houses Omaruru, after an invitation from Alfons Maharero, the grandson of Samuel Maharero who led the wars against the German incursion in 1904, to express regret. Wolf-Thilo von Trotha said: "We ... are deeply ashamed of the terrible events that took place 100 years ago. Human rights were grossly abused that time. We say sorry, since we bear the name of General Lothar von Trotha".
Erwin Rommel pictures from the first world war
Erwin Rommel pictures from the Great War era 114-1918 : thread from the AxisForum.
William Seegers - Draftee into the army of Kaiser Wilhelm II
William Seegers was a reluctant draftee into the army of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1917. Two years later he was hospitalized with the Spanish flu pandemic that killed more people than the Great War itself. By the time he returned to duty, "the German government was falling apart and the Bolshevik revolution was going on. So he just walked home. He never used the word deserted, but I realize now that's what he did. He wanted to get away." Realizing the penalty for desertion - execution - he returned to a different infantry regiment, where he served until he was discharged in April 1919.
Secrets of Adolf Hitler the soldier of the Great War unearthed
An amazing find in a German archive now sheds new light on Adolf Hitler as a trench-fighter in World War I. Hitler's years in the German army during the Great War have long been a mystery because of the lack of first-hand accounts. Now a memoir written by young medical assistant Alexander Moritz Frey has been rediscovered. It paints a picture of a madman in the making: a warrior who braved shells and bullets but who even amid the destruction found time to rail against the English and all other enemies. "When people claim he had been a coward, that's not true."
Hyperinflation in Germany, 1914-1923
The German inflation of 1914–1923 had an inconspicuous beginning, a creeping rate of 1-2%. On the first day of the war, the German Reichsbank suspended redeemability of its notes in order to prevent a run on its gold reserves. Since taxes are always unpopular, the Germans preferred to borrow the needed amounts of money rather than raise its taxes. To this end it was assisted by the Reichsbank, which discounted most treasury obligations. By the end of the war the amount of money in circulation had risen fourfold and prices some 140%. Yet the German mark had suffered no more than the British pound.
WWI German POW camp in Japan
A "road station" for motorists opened in Naruto featuring a local prisoner of war camp built for German soldiers captured in World War I. The city was home to Bando Prison, which housed about 1,000 German POWs between 1917 and 1920 who had been captured in the Chinese city of Qingdao during the first world war. The prisoners were known to have been well-treated and were allowed to engaged in a variety of activities. They even set up an orchestra in 1918 to perform Beethoven's entire Symphony No. 9 for the first time in Japan.
The Warlords: Paul von Hindenburg and Erich von Ludendorff
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich von Ludendorff personified the fortunes of WW1 Germany. They were the authors of the victory at Tannenberg in August 1914, when German forces on the eastern front shattered the invading Russian armies and drove a salient into Russian Poland. But they were also deeply involved in the disasters that forced Germany to its knees in the autumn of 1918. They were warlords in the most literal sense. By the closing months of 1917 they were the most powerful men in Germany. The military apparatus they ruled held the German Empire in an iron grip. Not even the Kaiser himself could challenge their pre-eminence.
Kaiser's soldier: I remember the stench of death and mud
Ninety years after the start of the First World War, Charles Kuentz still feels he has to apologise for his role in it on the German side. Mr Kuentz, thought to be the only surviving soldier to have fought on both the eastern and western German fronts in the war, has now written his memoirs with the help of his children. His home region, Alsace-Lorraine, now part of France, has been claimed by Germany several times during modern history, as was the case at the outbreak of the war, and he was obliged to fight for the Kaiser.
First World War Service of Adolf Hitler - Corporal with two Iron Crosses
Adolf Hitler too is part of the heritage of the WWI. Much has been written to play down his war service on the Western Front. A close scrutiny shows he was a dedicated and brave frontline trooper. His fellow soldiers and officers seem to have uniformly remembered him positively. Hitler declined promotion to full corporal - it would have reassigned him away from the messenger group. Besides two Iron Crosses, he was awarded the Bavarian Military Medal 3rd class with bar. The List Regiment and the headquarters messenger group had tremendous casualties during the war, but Hitler avoided many close calls and often indicated he expected to survive the war.
Herman Goering in the First World War
Hermann Goering, the son of a senior army officer, was educated at a military school and became a member of the Prussian Cadet Corps. He served with the infantry during the first few months of the war, but was hospitalized with rheumatoid arthritis of the knees. After recovering, he transferred to the German Army Air Service. At first Goering was an observer for war ace Bruno Loerzer, but later he became a fighter pilot, scoring his first victory on 16th Nov. 1915. After the death of Manfred von Richthofen Goering became the leader of his JG 1 squadron. By the end of the war Goering had 22 victories - and the Iron Cross and the Pour le Merite for bravery.
Adolf Hitler's life was once allegedly spared by a British soldier
Private Tandey led a bayonet charge against outnumbering enemy troops which helped bring fighting to an end. As the battle wound down and enemy troops surrendered or retreated, a wounded German soldier limped out of the maelstrom and into Private Tandey's line of fire, the battle weary man never raised his rifle and just stared at Tandey resigned to the inevitable. "I took aim but couldn't shoot a wounded man. so I let him go." The young German soldier nodded in thanks and the two men took diverging paths. Hitler retreated with the remnants of German troops. Tandey put that encounter out of his mind and rejoined his regiment, discovering that he had won the Victoria Cross.
Historians dispute legend that soldier spared Hitler's life (Article no longer available from the original source)
A WW1 legend that Adolf Hitler's life was spared by a soldier who had him in his sights has been questioned by new research. Pte Henry Tandey, who was serving with the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, reputedly had a chance to kill the future Führer during fighting at Marcoing, near Cambrai, France, on the day he won a Victoria Cross, Sept 28, 1918. But he could not bring himself to kill a wounded man and instead let Hitler go. Hitler was indeed wounded in northern France, but work by historians has cast new doubt on the story. Documents in the Bavarian State Archive show that Corporal Hitler was on leave on the day in question and nowhere near the battle.