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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

WWI German Uniform ID Please.....


MichelleE

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I am hoping that someone might help me identify this uniform...my great grandfather, all I know is that his name is Otto Wachsmuth and that he died in WWI 1915. Thank you! Michelle post-19641-1173119586.jpg

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Hi, Michelle! Welcome to the Forum.

As I am sure you can make out, your g-g-f was a medical orderly; he would have been called a Sanitaetsmann (the "ae" is actually a letter with an "a" with two dots over it). The flowers in his blouse suggests that this was what was called an Aufsmarschbild , a picture taken when a man was called up and was about to leave for the front. As you see he was a bit older, from hundreds of photos I have seen these men were typically older men. A soldier was called up at 20, traditionally, usually served two years' active duty, but then progressed through four different levels of reserve formations until his obligations ceased in the year when he turned 45.

Do you have any idea where he came from, a city (Berlin?), a region (Bavaria?), or a nationality, like "Schwab"? The records of the different areas are in different states of preservation and location.

Do you have anything else at all? Military stuff, or even a civilian post card? They can tell volumes. Sometimes a picture in an album turns out to be a PC when the reverse is peeked at.

I or someone else could run his name against the German War Graves Society, which has an on-line database of about 2.2 million war dead, generally those with known graves. Sadly for WW I this is only abbout a third of the dead. As a Sanitaetsmann it would have been more likely that his body was recovered than the typical infantryman. (I have not used the database more than once or twice, with mixed results, although I have no problem with the German.)

These are no signs of rank that I can make out. In the photo he is probably a private.

Do you know anything else? Any PCs at all, odd scraps of document, little booklets?

Bob Lemble

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I just searched on the German War Graves Society site and came up empty. The only Otto Wachsmuth they had was a World War 2 casualty (born in 1914) who died in 1944.

This is obviously not the same individual, although they may be related?

Wachsmuth

Vorname: Otto Emil Paul

Dienstgrad: Wachtmeister

Geburtsdatum: 10.02.1914

Geburtsort: Meißen

Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 09.1944

Todes-/Vermisstenort: Kgf.Lg. 188 Tambow b.Moskau

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post-19641-1173141280.jpgThank you for all the information....I only wish I had more to offer. I only found this photo last summer in my grandmothers (Otto's ex-daughter in-law) basement. She only knew his name and that he died in 1915 in WWI. Otto had 6 children, the last of which was my grandfather Otto Walter born in 1913, who died in 1981 and I never met. I am hoping to meet some of the descendents of the other 5 children in May on a return trip to germany and find out more info then. My grandfather was in WWII, does anyone know what his uniform would suggest? Thanks so much for the help. Michelle
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Your family should at least know where they came from. There were four German armies, and most of the records of the largest, the Prussian Army, were destroyed in a bombing raid on the archive. The other three armies have more surviving records. I understand that there are medical records that were stored somewhere else, so if a guy was in hospital there might be data. Possibly medical staff data was also stored whereever the other stuff is.

Post again when you have more info. Better, post before then. Six children! You can see that he was older. 35-40?

Bob Lembke

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I just spoke with my mother and she says that Otto's children were all born in Aken, Germany which is very near Berlin. His wife was born in Aken in 1879 so he may have been near her age? That could make him about 35-40, like you said. Does this help with where I could begin looking for records? Michelle

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Does this help with where I could begin looking for records? Michelle

So most of his records went up in a RAF firebombing raid on Potsdam 1944/45.

But you may find civil records. Germans love to keep records. I got stuff from the Hamburg City Archive on my grand mother from ca. 1913. They told me that the data 1926 to 1944 were destroyed in the great fire raid, but that the earlier records were in distant storage and survived.

But I don't know much about these civil records. I guess that they are spotty. You can find where Akin is, where it was in (municipality) in 1914, and have an efficient hunt if you go there. Your German relatives will probably be tickled pink and help you, give you photos, etc. Lots of Germans really don't want to think of those times.

I got tremendous help with a cold e-mail to the Hamburg Archive. Cities seemed to maintain annual bound registers of resident families. I usually to write in German, then I just used English. How is your German? So many people speak English over there, but using German is a really nice touch.

Bob Lembke

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Oh, your g-g-f probably served in III. Armeekorps or even more likely in III. Reservekorps. My grandfather commanded one of the four operations sections in that army corp's Generalkommando. Probably in the 6th Infantry Division or the 6th Reserve Division. If the latter, which is a bit more likely, he probably died in Russa; my grand-father got malaria there in 1915.

You might be able to get a death certificate!

Bob Lembke

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My german is not good at all, only able to get by with my grandmother. My mother was born in Berlin and is still speaks and writes perfectly! Who or where would I contact to find a death certificate? Michelle

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My german is not good at all, only able to get by with my grandmother. My mother was born in Berlin and is still speaks and writes perfectly! Who or where would I contact to find a death certificate? Michelle

Michelle;

Not sure that there was an Aken very near Berlin. I think that your Aken is a town on the Elbe River north-west of Leipzig. They have a web-site www.aken.de, and you can reach the mayor, Handsjochen Mueller, at his e-mail address: h.mueller@aken.de . I would write him and ask if the records of that era have survived. Is your mother on board with this project? Perhaps she might write in German.

I have been able to find the German White Pages on the Internet and do a search in a given city on a given family name. I am drawing a blank mentally at the moment, have not done it recently. You could size up how common the name is and even send out a few letters or cold calls. Where are the relatives you know of? I think that Aken was in the former DDR. Beware, Aken is also the Dutch name of the city Aachen.

Bob Lembke

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Bob,

You are correct...Aken is northwest of Leipzig....my reference of "near Berlin" was because my grandmother lives in Himmelkron, about 210 km south of Aken. I have forwarded the web address you supplied along with the e-mail address to my mother, she is on board with this project, and she will write to them for me. Thank you so much for the information! You know alot on this subject, have you been to Germany?

Michelle Erdman

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post-19641-1173239129.jpg

Bob,

I located this on the German War Graves site you suggested, I can't read it but I can see Aken listed. Is it possible this is this who I am looking for? His wife is also buried in Aken, but I am guessing this is a cemetary with only men who died in war.

Michelle

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Michelle;

Most of the post is "boiler-plate", the only information of interest is that he was a Gefreiter when he died (Not really a NCO, sort of a private first class-US or lance-corporal-Brit or Marines), that he was born on June 1, 1873, and died on March 25, 1916. The place of birth and death is not known. The cemetary is a military cemetary in Aken, and the row and grave is given (row 1, grave 6? from memory). He was not a Gefreiter in the photo; he would have had a large button on his collar on each side, mid-way from front to back.

It is quite unusual that he was buried in Germany, as I said. Posibly he died in a hospital in Germany. (Note how your supposed year of death was off). With the name, and dates of birth and death you might get a death certificate, or at least the info on it. E-mail the mayor. They might have other information. Or none. I have worked with detailed death rolls of German units, and quite a number of soldiers died in Germany.

He was 41 at the time of the war, so he was in the Landsturm, and so would not have been in combat if he just was in a Landsturm infantry battalion (he would have been guarding a bridge, or POWs, etc.), so he probably volunteered for duty that would have taken him into harm's way.

I have not actually spent a lot of time in Germany, and not much lately; a lot more in Eastern Europe, and lately in Turkey. Often used to fly into Stuttgart or Munich to pick up a car and head east for a few weeks. Used to work in (ex) Jugoslavija for both the Department of State and a couple of Jugoslav governments, at the same time. Odd situation in the Communist era.

My wife is from Vermont; they have been farmers up in New England for 373 years. We came over in 1926.

Bob Lembke

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Bob,

Thank you for the translation, I sent the dates to my mother last night and she is sending an email to the Aken mayor to see if they have any information available.

I've never been to Turkey, my grandmother used to go a few times of year (she just loved shopping there!) but has been unable to travel the last couple of years. Now I mother and I travel to see her once a year, I am hoping that she will be well enough to make the trip to Aken. The Wachsmuths owned a large farm and she still knows where it is. My mother came to the US in 1965 after marrying my father stationed in Berlin, and I was born in Nurnberg.

Wow, New England farmers for 373 years! My husband and I moved to New Hampshire about 12 years ago from Alaska via Wyoming. It is beautiful here but I miss Wyoming and my parents.

Well, thanks for all your help!

Michelle

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Guest sandz@xtra.co.nz

Hi Michelle

Just been checking out some Wachsmuth ancestors of mine and came upon your and Bobs messages.

My Wachsmuths came from Goettingen (near Hannover), and I don't think my Otto is related to yours. But there was an Otto Wachsmuth who left Southampton on 21 April 1894 for New York. Age 24, Single, Male, Occupation - Performer. Aboard the ship "Berlin". On the manifest came with more than 20 other performers, all listed as Foreigners. Maybe this is your Otto?

Sandy

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Hi Sandy,

Couldn't be my Otto Wachsmuth, he never left germany, was in WWI and died abt 1915-16...Thanks

Michelle

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Zum Gedenken

K0388872

Nachname: Wachsmuth

Vorname: Otto

Dienstgrad: Reservist

Geburtsdatum:

Geburtsort:

Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 12.04.1915

Todes-/Vermisstenort:

Otto Wachsmuth ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Lambersart (Frankreich) .

Endgrablage: Block 3 Grab 589

Zum Gedenken

J0276965

Nachname: Wachsmuth

Vorname: Otto

Dienstgrad: Kriegsfreiwilliger

Geburtsdatum:

Geburtsort:

Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 21.11.1915

Todes-/Vermisstenort:

Otto Wachsmuth ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Souain (Frankreich) .

Endgrablage: Block 1 Grab 1069

Zum Gedenken

Z0313468

Nachname: Wachsmuth

Vorname: Otto

Dienstgrad: Trainsoldat

Geburtsdatum:

Geburtsort:

Todes-/Vermisstendatum: 15.10.1916

Todes-/Vermisstenort:

Otto Wachsmuth ruht auf der Kriegsgräberstätte in Sissonne (Frankreich) .

Endgrablage: Block 6 Grab 654

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