Skip to comments.Unseen World War I Photos: German Trenches
Posted on 08/08/2013 2:13:46 PM PDT by nickcarraway
The following photos were taken from 1914-1918 by my great-grandfather Lt. Walter Koessler during his time as a German officer in the first World War. They're part of a collection of over a thousand photos, stereographs and their negatives that my family has been saving for a century. This is an unusually large and complete collection, and I've taken on the task of preserving it and printing it so other people can experience this history too.
These photos have never been published before.
Thanks for the link!
You are welcome!
You are welcome!
Thanks for posting these great shots.
I once invited in to my Civil Air Patrol Cadet Squadron a veteran of WWI. He was a German veteran. He told several great stories about life in the trenches. One that I remember was when he was leading a brand new Lieutenant through the trenches out to their unit. They heard an incoming artillery shell and the Lieutenant dove to the bottom of the trench. This experienced guy just ducked down a little and leaned against the trench wall. The shell landed and blew their trench walls in. Rescuers dug him out in time but the Lieutenant, lying at the bottom of the trench, was dead by the time they got him dug out.
He also handed around his Iron Cross. He said that it was a real Iron Cross, not like the ones given out by the Austrian Corporal.
That looks like fun.
That's weird, Hitler won two iron crosses, one 1st. class and one 2nd. class and they were both legit.
Maybe he means ones Hitler gave out during WWII since it does say, "...given out by the Austrian Corporal". There's no doubt that Hitler gave them out to reward people but most were earned.
You should have asked him why he didn't shoot the b**tard when he had the chance?
I got the history of the 113th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion (WWII) from my uncle today. My grandfather wrote the the history of Battery D (Dog Battery). I put it on scribd because it came to me as a 76 page pdf.
Ping for later
Thanks for posting. My great-uncle was with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Killed in action in France. He’s buried in a British Military Cemetery there. I’ve got a picture of him in uniform on horseback.
VERY nice. Thanks.
“European culture has never been the same since WW I.”
I read that 50,000 British were killed in ONE DAY during WWI, not with firebombings or an A-bomb, but with shells and bullets - and generally, they had their officers (i.e., the upper class) at the front of the line, not the back. Given the population of England and the world at the time, this is mind-boggling.
My daughter had the opportunity just this past spring to tour some of the WW1 battlefields for a college course. She took some tremendous pictures but said the pix didn't do it justice...the experience was quite moving.
Forty-five years ago I often golfed with several WW1 vets, a couple of whom had been gassed in their trenches. I made sure they knew I appreciated them and their service.
Thanks for the photos.
My grandfather was in the 307th Ammunition Train of the 82nd Division. Although late to the front, they were hip deep in the Meuse-Argonne offensive.
The 307th was split into truck and horse units and Pop, being a farmer, was not in the automotive portion.
He told stories when I was young-like delivering artillery shells to the guns then being run off by the crews because the resupply wagons would draw enemy fire.
The worst was when he was running down a road with an officer when he came upon a poor dying soul (of unknown origin) crawling across the trail with his intestines out.
He wanted to stop to help but the fire was coming ever closer and the officer turned the whip on Pop forcing him to run over the man to get back to safety.
This bothered him greatly to his dying day.
What a sad thing was this war.
Here's an interesting bit of trivia. The great character actor Walter Brennan had a very distinctive voice. Brennan got that voice from being gassed while serving in France during WW 1.
Yes, you’re right about that. It was truly the end of an age. I’ve read extensively about that war and the period leading up to it.
It all could have been avoided so easily.
First day of the Somme Offensive in 1916. 57,000 British casualties, of which a little over 19,000 were killed.
There are descriptions of the men climbing out of the trenches and advancing into the machine gun fire. They leaned forward, like men walking into a heavy rain.
“I read that 50,000 British were killed in ONE DAY during WWI, not with firebombings or an A-bomb, but with shells and bullets - and generally, they had their officers (i.e., the upper class) at the front of the line, not the back.”
It was the beginning of the battle of the Somme in 1916; they lost 60,000 killed and wounded on the first day. The officers that led were low-ranking officers (one was kicking a soccer ball as he led them out of the trench); the senior officers knew it was a deliberate sacrifice to draw German troops away from the French fortress at Verdun (which was close to collapsing). It worked, but the price was horrific; supposedly by the end of the first day British troops weren’t even running for the German trenches anymore. They’d walk towards them until they were shot.
The attack was bungled from the start; a mine that was supposed to explode under the German trenches as the British troops approached blew up before they left their own trenches; this alerted the Germans and let them move up additional machine guns.
“European culture has never been the same since WW I...And for what and why?”
Europe had turned its back on its Christian roots; after WWI fascist (not Nazi) states tried to re-claim them, but only Spain and Portugal were really successful (until the 1970s).
Anyone who is familiar with the world wars and still enlists is naive; too many of our servicemen today were alive when BJ Clinton attacked Serbia to keep his sexual trysts out of the news. People in Serbia were killed - for nothing. A friend has a son serving now; he took comfort in the fact that he wasn’t in a bad place and he’d be OK. I told him I’d be just as concerned that he might kill people who’d done nothing wrong.
“I interpreted his meaning the Iron Crosses awarded in “The Great War” were untainted compared to those awarded in WW2 to those soldiers who no doubt ranked an such an honor but were done in association with horrible war crimes.”
Hitler went so far as to exempt Jews who’d received the Iron Cross in WWI from persecution; while he thought they were foreigners, he respected that they felt and thought of themselves as Germans (and proved it in combat).
Hitler earned his iron crosses in WWI where by all accounts he was a brave soldier. Or nuts and not worried about the danger. I vote for nuts.
You are exactly right.
He was saying his Iron Cross was won by his sacrifices for his country.
WWII’s Iron Crosses were given out for sacrifices for the NAZI party and Hitler.
Very interesting about ol’ Walter. It’s been a long time, but now that you mention it I seem to recall something similar from my old golfing buddies. Or perhaps it’s just the power of suggestion. Anyway, thanks for that.
Comprising the main Allied attack on the Western Front during 1916, the Battle of the Somme is famous chiefly on account of the loss of 58,000 British troops (one third of them killed) on the first day of the battle, 1 July 1916, which to this day remains a one-day record. The attack was launched upon a 30 kilometre front, from north of the Somme river between Arras and Albert, and ran from 1 July until 18 November, at which point it was called off.An Allied myth that persists to this day is that the Germans were "running out of men" -- basically British and French propaganda that was nevertheless believed by both the civilian populations (who otherwise might have balked by 1916) and all the way up the chain of command. The Somme Offensive was just feeding the flower of British manpower into the German guns until the BEF was wrecked. Call-ups for more men -- because the Germans were running out of men -- went not only to Canada, but throughout the British Empire.
The offensive was planned late in 1915 and was intended as a joint French-British attack. The French Commander in Chief, Joffre, conceived the idea as a battle of attrition, the aim being to drain the German forces of reserves, although territorial gain was a secondary aim.
The plan was agreed upon by the new British Commander in Chief, Sir Douglas Haig, although Haig would have preferred an offensive among the open ground of Flanders. [http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/somme.htm]
For all his faults, Hitler earned those awards and after he was “Elected” chancellor didnt award himself any other medals.
The German military was very strict about who was given the Iron Cross at the beginning of the war. It was a high honor.
I always wondered how he only made it to corporeal after four years of combat.
bump for later
Don’t know...He volunteered to be a runner and that job wasn’t very healthy.
Exactly - so there should have been plenty of attrition in his unit leading to his necessary advancement. It is odd that he did not advance.
I remember reading a book several years ago and, if I remember correctly, one of the guys in his unit moved to the United States after WWI and this guy eventually supplied info to U.S. intelligence to help them try and build a profile of Hitler. This man related that Hitler would have had no problem fitting into obama's new military.
I have read that Hitler wasn’t really too popular with his comrades in arms.
I think Hitler’s nephew also provided intel on his uncle.
As for Hitler fitting in with Obamas regime, I don’t know. Hitler was big on military spending and was anti-gay.
That was the allegation made against him - that he had been caught cuddled up with another soldier. During the "Night of the Long Knives" there were several people who were killed that were not S.A. or military. One of those people was an innkeeper who owned an inn that Hitler used to frequent. It was speculated that he may have seen too much.
Wow.....So Hitler and Obama have a lot in common then.
Both are ass pirates.
Yeah, many of the main battles that were supposedly “won” by the allies, the Germans lost less men.
The BEF was decimated fairly early in the war.
Please, put me on your ping list if you have more of these coming.
It’s a wonder, how after the abattoirs of Battle of the Somme and similar battles, the tremendous losses the Bits and French took in “The Great War”, they ever alowed themselves to be dragged in another world war...
“the collapse of the Russian Empire led to a massive reinforcement of the west”
The Germans were never able to capitalize on the victory over Russia, because they feared the troops had become too radicalized through fraternization. At the time of the German surrender they still had 1 million troops in Russia.
You’re right that many Jews supported Hitler (and also Mussolini) early on because they viewed them as protection for private property rights against Communists (who threatened to take over both countries).
I am Walter Koessler’s granddaughter, and he passed away in 1966 when I was seven years old. I have wonderful childhood memories of him. He was a very kind and gentle man. I know very little about this part of his life, though I am blessed to have some of the color pencil renderings he made during this time, of churches and farms where he happened to be. He went on to be a successful art director in Hollywood from the 30’s to the 50’s.