Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Guest Post: “Died in the Service of Their Fatherland”: Latter-day Saints in Germany, World War I — part 1
 


Guest Post: “Died in the Service of Their Fatherland”: Latter-day Saints in Germany, World War I — part 1

By: Amy Tanner Thiriot - March 16, 2011

As I turned the pages of Der Stern (1917), the publication of the Swiss-German Mission, I was rather startled to see an Iron Cross. To my eye, the Iron Cross is an enemy symbol, something akin to a swastika. Then I noticed the text accompanying the Cross: “Ehre ihrem Andenken,” literally, “Honor to their Memory” or as translated here, “In Memoriam.” The black-bordered notice listed three recent war deaths, all of them young men of mission age, two from the Chemnitz Branch and one from Hamburg.

As the Kaiser’s military forces continued to fight the First World War in the trenches and at sea, Der Stern continued to publish the death notices of the members of the church who died in the service of their Fatherland, among articles on doctrine and explanations of church procedure and letters from the battlefield like the one from Karl Püschel. Sometimes the cause of death is noted, sometimes the place of death. Sometimes the editor includes a personal note. In a couple of cases, the member is listed as missing, presumed dead.

These notices are the first in a series.


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Images of all notices are posted here.

January 1, 1917:

John 15:13
[Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.]

Revelation 2:10
[Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:
... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.]

In Memoriam

The following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in the service of their Fatherland:

Heinrich Paul Schneider

Member of the Chemnitz Branch, died on September 15, 1916 in the field hospital in Piunes, France. He was born on October 9, 1895 in Chemnitz, Saxony, and was baptized on November 27, 1909.

Georg Emiel Cletus Franke

Member of the Chemnitz Branch, died as a result of an injury and operation on December 15, 1916. He was born on September 10, 1894 in Grüna by Chemnitz, baptized on April 22, 1909, and died in a military hospital in Chemnitz.

Johannes Drewes

Member of the Hamburg Branch, he was killed on the western front on October 9, 1916. He was born on July 4, 1896 in Wilhelmsburg by Hamburg and was baptized on July 4, 1904.

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We express our deepest sympathy to the bereaved. May the Lord richly bless them and strengthen their belief in a glorious resurrection.

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April 1, 1917:

John 15:13
Revelation 2:10

In Memoriam

The following member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in the service of his Fatherland:

Heinrich Georg Lehwalder

Son of Elder Ludwig Lehwalder, member of the Frankfurt Branch, he was killed by a grenade on February 18, 1917. He was born on January 1, 1896 in Frankfurt am Main and baptized on November 5, 1905. His brother was killed a number of months before at the Battle of Verdun.

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We express our deepest sympathy to the bereaved. May the Lord richly bless them and strengthen their belief in a glorious resurrection and reunion with the departed.

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May 15, 1917:

John 15:13
Revelation 2:10

In Memoriam

The following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in the service of their Fatherland:

Georg Max Schulzke

Member of the Memel Branch in East Prussia, died as a hero on February 26, 1917. He was born on July 30, 1897 in Memel, East Prussia, and baptized on August 30, 1911.

Richard Neugebauer

Died after an operation in the military hospital in Insterburg. He was born on November 14, 1877 and baptized on April 26, 1896. He leaves behind a wife and three children.

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We express our deepest sympathy to the bereaved. May the Lord richly bless them and strengthen their belief in a glorious resurrection and reunion with the departed.

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July 15, 1917:

John 15:13
Revelation 2:10

In Memoriam

The following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in the service of their Fatherland:

Karl Laskowski

Member of the Königsberg Branch, died following an operation on June 8, 1917 in a military hospital in Danzig. He was born on August 9, 1891 in Insterburg, East Prussia, and baptized on April 14, 1911.

Johann Friedrich Kreile

Member of the Frankfurt Branch, died on May 29, 1917 in a military hospital as the result of a bullet wound. He was born on June 10, 1894 and baptized on September 16, 1906.

Otto Emil Mayer

Member of the Karlsruhe Branch, he died on the western front on May 8, 1917. He was born on January 11, 1896 in Karlsruhe and baptized on October 3, 1909.

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We express our deepest sympathy to the bereaved. May the Lord richly bless them and strengthen their belief in a glorious resurrection.

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October 1, 1917:

John 15:13
Revelation 2:10

In Memoriam

The following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in the service of their Fatherland:

Karl Jakob Hermann Eisenacher

Member of the Stuttgart Branch, died at Bullenwart [probably Bullecourt] on July 17, 1917. He was born on November 22, 1894 in Stuttgart, and baptized on August 14, 1904. A head wound brought his life to a close.

Eduard Brandl

Member of the Nürnberg Branch, died in the military hospital in Neuhaus in Böhmen on September 29, 1917. He was born on July 2, 1875 in Pöcken, Austria, and baptized on September 24, 1908. According to the report of the branch president, he was one of the best members of their branch.

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We assure the bereaved of our deepest sympathy. May the Spirit of the Lord fill their souls with comfort and hope.

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December 15, 1917:

John 15:13
Revelation 2:10

In Memoriam

The following members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died in the service of their Fatherland:

Jakob Bauer

Member of the Frankfurt Branch, died on September 13, 1917 at Verdun. He was born on June 18, 1892 in Rodenbach, Hessen, and baptized on October 25, 1908.

Johann Herrmann

Member of the Munich Branch, missing in action. He was born on June 24, 1878 in Munich and baptized on May 23, 1890.

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We express our deepest sympathy to the bereaved. May the Lord richly bless them and strengthen their belief in a glorious resurrection.



23 Comments »

  1. My grandfather, whose parents were both German (born in Germany), fought in WWII and was taken prisoner rather than killed because he was Mormon.

    I first learned about WWII when I lived in Germany. That and my ancestry certainly has helped me see the war differently.

    Comment by SilverRain — March 16, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  2. I’m waiting for Mark B. to explain–off the top of his head, no doubt–the battles each of these deaths are associated with…

    Comment by Clark — March 16, 2011 @ 11:06 am

  3. Thank you for this, Amy. While they are small biographies, they represent whole worthy lives — I like the way that they stress the LDS-ness of those lives (their baptismal dates, their branch memberships) more than military rank or worldly achievements.

    Seeing the Schulzke name again, and knowing something of the fine LDS background of that one young man, reminds me that each of those boys had friends and family and branch members who cared about them and — hopefully — found comfort in those Bible verses that appear with each notice.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  4. By the way, the unnamed brother of Heinrich Georg Lehwalder mentioned as having died a few months before Heinrich’s February 1917 death would have been

    August Edmund Lehwalder
    1895-1916

    who was baptized on 5 November 1905. Seems appropriate to remember him here, too.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  5. Wonderful stuff. On the Stern masthead you’ve included, note that the Jan. 1, 1918 issue was the 50th year of publication!

    As to the translation, in the postscript I think the second sentence should be in the third person — i.e. consider replacing “you” and “your” with “them” and “their” in the following:

    “May the Lord richly bless you and strengthen your belief in a glorious resurrection.”

    Comment by john f. — March 16, 2011 @ 11:24 am

  6. This is wonderful, Amy! Thanks.

    And I’d like to do what you suggest, Clark, but the top of my head isn’t big enough. Yet.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 16, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  7. Minor editing done. How about the 1 October notice? The wording there is different so I don’t know whether it should be edited, too.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  8. Thanks, Amy.
    The World War I era is interesting because it represents the first war in which there were significant numbers of Mormons on opposing sides. Church leaders in the USA encouraged American members to remain neutral; however, European leaders, including Hyrum Valentine, the mission president in Basel, Switzerland, encouraged the members of the warring countries to be “patriotic” and act in accordance to the Twelfth Article of Faith. Church membership in Germany prior to World War I was between 5,500 and 7,000; most joining the Church after 1900 (the bios in Der Stern support this). Of the German Mormons who fought World War I, about 75 lost their lives.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 16, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

  9. Thanks, all. I should probably add a disclaimer as to my German skills, John. : ) I find that in a quick translation like this, I spend so much time working on finding the right English words for something like “trauernden Hinterbliebenen” that a simple “sie” escapes my notice. Perhaps Ardis would be so kind as to correct that.

    The 1917 and 1918 copies of the Stern list a total of 28 servicemen. I don’t know if additional men are listed in other years. If you read through the notices, it seems that these are being sent in by branch presidents, so I guess some under-reporting is to be expected.

    Thanks for the additional context, Steve C.

    Comment by Amy T — March 16, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  10. And, a final note: a fascinating article on the topic of the First World War and its connection to Mormon scripture is by George Tate: “‘The Great World of the Spirits of the Dead': Death, the Great War, and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic as Context for Doctrine and Covenants 138″ which you can download and read here. It was summarized not long ago in the Ensign, but is worth reading in its entirety. It lists a number of sources relevant to this topic and mentions the experience of another German soldier who is not listed in these death notices.

    Comment by Amy T — March 16, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  11. Thanks, Ardis. Yes, it would apply to all of those notes from the editor, including October 1.

    Perhaps your readers will not mind if I mention that I found it a very touching experience to go through and translate each entry and think about their experiences, how old they were when they died, when they were baptized, where they attended church, how they died.

    Two of the men listed on this page died at Verdun. They were among more than 300,000 French and German soldiers who died in this horrific ten-month long battle which took place on a small piece of ground in northeastern France.

    Max Schulzke, as we learned previously on Keepa (see the link), was part of a U-boat crew. He “died as a hero” when his submarine was sunk in the British channel.

    I will also mention that I come to this topic with mixed emotions, since my grandfather’s father was in the trenches on the other side of the conflict. I am personally glad that he made it home, having survived both the fighting and the flu pandemic.

    Comment by Amy T — March 16, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  12. Whoa. I’m halfway through the Tate article and need to stop for a while to catch my breath and dry my eyes. What a picture he paints. Thanks, Amy.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  13. It is ironic in some way that the USA declared war on Germany (and her allies) April 6, 1917.

    Is there anyone else here that recalls that it was just called “The World War” and we didn’t add the “I” to differentiate it until the late 1930’s or early 40’s?

    Comment by CurtA — March 16, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

  14. You are probably our elder statesman, Curt, and the only one who might have a direct memory of that. I knew that we did just call it “The World War” or “The Great War” but don’t have any personal memory there. Oh, those were the days, before we had to start numbering our world-wide wars …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

  15. The Battle of Verdun was one of the greatest and costliest battles not only of World War I but of all recorded wars. Looking at the date that Jakob Bauer died (September 1917) that would have been nearly a year after the tragic battle ended.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 16, 2011 @ 4:29 pm

  16. Has the temple work been done for these Saints?

    Comment by Coffinberry — March 16, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

  17. I haven’t checked them all (yet) but I did see this morning that the work has been done for at least some of them. I’ll finish checking and report back, if no one beats me to the punch first.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 5:15 pm

  18. Though the “Battle of Verdun” is considered to have begun in February 1916 and to have ended in December of that year, the French and German lines remained close to Verdun, and there were continuing casualties–from the regular artillery barrages or from small arms fire (when soldiers left their trenches). Thus it’s all too likely that additional thousands of men died at Verdun after the “Battle” ended.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 16, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  19. I’ve also looked up a few of them. The answer so far is “yes and no.” Some of the work was done as early as 1917, much of it was done in the 1920s and 1970s, and someone in Salt Lake City tied up a few loose ends in 1996. At least two of the men (that I’ve seen so far) have not been sealed to their parents, and much of the genealogical data in New Family Search is incomplete.

    Interesting about Jacob Bauer. I wonder if his dates were incorrect, or if the note about Verdun was, or if he died at or somewhere near Verdun, but not during the battle.

    Comment by Amy T — March 16, 2011 @ 6:00 pm

  20. Mark B.: That was my thinking on the Verdun bit. Given how little the lines actually changed anyway, I imagine that Jakob Bauer died somewhere close by.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 16, 2011 @ 7:40 pm

  21. One other comment on this post–I don’t equate the German Iron Cross with a swastika. The Iron Cross was a military symbol dating back to the Prussian era and is still currently used by the German military as a designation (aircraft markings, for example). The swastika was a Nazi party symbol and is specific to the party (It should be noted that swastikas have been used as symbols in other contexts for thousands of years). So the use of the Iron Cross in honoring fallen soldiers in Der Stern is, imo, simply a matter of being patriotic.

    Comment by Steve C. — March 16, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

  22. This isn’t the first time that the iron cross has appeared at Keepa. It decorated the invitation to the German National Day of Mourning in 2009. Also, Charles Henry Wilcken was wearing his iron cross when he left the American army and crossed over to the Mormon lines during the Utah War of 1857-58. (Don’t let the title of that post bother you — it wasn’t meant to demean either Wilcken or Romney, but to mock the national press and its breathless discovery of 19th century Mormon polygamy — quelle horreur!)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 16, 2011 @ 8:08 pm

  23. Thanks for bringing up the topic of the Iron Cross, Steve.

    I was surprised at my reaction to it for a couple of reasons: first, that I had a name for it in some dusty recess of my brain, and second, that I identified it as an enemy symbol. As you know, the Iron Cross actually had a swastika on it during the Second World War, but that was only a few years of its long history, and I agree that the Iron Cross itself is not a symbol of anything sinister.

    Although they may have been firing at my great grandfather and others, I do not find it inappropriate to honor the memory of these men as patriotic Germans and dutiful members of the Church. They found themselves on the wrong side of history, but they did their duty to their country.

    Wilhelm Kessler, formerly a missionary and editor of Der Stern as well as a recipient of the Iron Cross, wrote to President Valentine before his death:

    Before I leave as a German soldier, I want to say good-bye to you….I want to thank you for your fatherly guidance….I hope that I might not hurt you in any way and please don’t argue with yourself that I did wrong in joining the German Army. Consider my patriotism.

    Comment by Amy T — March 17, 2011 @ 7:02 am

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