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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Germany's compulsary service and noncitizens


BottsGreys

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I am researching a young man, Martin, who along with his siblings was born in Chicago (thus, was a U.S. citizen) to immigrant parents from Bavaria. At some point between 1902-1910, the father (who was by then a naturalized U.S. citizen) moved the family back to Bavaria in order to assume the running of an ancestral family business. Martin and his brother served in the German Army during the war, with Martin being killed in 1915.

My belief is that Martin and his brother probably voluntarily enlisted, especially since they entered service long before the United States entered the war. However, in the absence of any information to indicate that they renounced their citizenship, could Martin and his brother have been compelled to serve in the German Army although they were U.S. citizens?

Chris

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Hi Chris

Perhaps this will be the start of an interesting story.

There will be one or two pals to help.

Can you post the surname and region they went to .

Martin

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The German attitude to nationality was confusing, and yet in essence failry simple. If you or your parents had held German nationality, you were German and if you didn't turn up for conscription (whether notified or not) you could/would be arrested as a deserter.

There are many examples of men who were born outside Germany but who were arrested as deserters when the Germans conquered where they were - Luxembourg, Belgium and the parts of France. Many of these men had no idea that they were German (according to the Germans) and a lot quite definitively held another nationality and produced their birth certificates and national ID cards to no avail.

Men thinking they were US citizens would have been in the same boat. Of course, it may be that your man enlisted voluntarily, but he could well have been given no choice.

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There are about 20 men listed in the Bavarian personnel rosters on Ancestry as born in Chicago... but none called Martin.

What's the surname?

Adrian

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Thanks guys, I appreciate your replies. Healdav's explanation of the German attitude regarding nationality is what I was looking for. The soldier I am interested in was named Martin Grader, born Chicago 17/11/1895, who served in Bavarian Reserve Pioneer Company No. 16 and was KIA on 31/8/1915 on the Schratzmannele in the Vosges (Alsace). His brother, Georg, born Chicago 18/08/1892, served with the 12th Kompanie, 15th Bavarian Infantry Regiment throughout the war. Their parents were George and Mary (Maria) Bartel Grader, both Bavarian natives who met and married after immigrating to Chicago. George was from Wolfratshausen.

I have been able to acquire a fair amount of information regarding Martin Grader and his family. In addition to my on-line research, several months ago I hired a genealogical researcher from Munich who did research on the family for me in Wolfratshausen. I think I have amassed enough information to perhaps write an article for publication. I do want to find additional information about the neighborhood where they lived in Chicago.

Thanks again,

Chris

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Very interesting Chris.

Healdav's explanation of the German attitude is also very helpful to me and understanding my family history.

Martin.

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loads about this topic in meeting the enemy Richard van emden

Biff :thumbsup:

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Ken:

Martin was a pioneer. His brother Georg became a gefreiter on 1/6/15 and unteroffizier on 16/2/17.

Thanks Martin, glad to hear this thread has been helpful not only to me, but to you as well.

Biff:

Thanks for the "heads up" about the book Meeting the Enemy. In checking Amazon.UK, I see it will be released later this month. It looks like an interesting read, and I'll be sure to pick up a copy.

Forum pal Dragon, whom you may know from her excellent threads on the battlefields of the Vosges, has kindly agreed to photograph Martin Grader's grave at Hohrod on her next visit to the region.

Chris

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