Misery down to the smallest farms

Siegfried sesselmann as the 11. November 1918, an armistice finally ended the first world war, and 17 million people lost their lives from 1914 in the most extensive war in history to that time. Unprecedented material battles with submarines, tanks, airplanes and the use of poison gas staged unimagined cruelties on all sides. The age of modern weapons of destruction had arrived, and air warfare and naval warfare replaced previous man-on-man warfare on the battlefield.

"Trip to paris"

This destructive by-product of industrialization and technical progress required an unprecedented mobilization, also of young men fit for military service, who had to leave their families, their wives and children, and their village. 70 million people were under arms. Almost the entire economy ceased production and had to switch to a war economy. Millions of young people lost their lives in the most cruel way in senseless trench warfare in mordant wars of position, in which countless soldiers had to fight a senseless battle in the mud for weeks in fortified front lines.

No town, no village did not track the recruitment of the able-bodied men. Some ran as volunteers to the barracks to participate in the "excursion to paris" to have been there, as the euphorically enthusiastic wrote on the train heading west. But things were to turn out completely differently.

The formerly independent municipality of zaubach had 64 and the small town of vorderreuth 22 participants in the war. 17 young soldiers from romersreuth also went to war. From the former district town of stadtsteinach, 336 young men had to leave their families. From this small area alone, 435 young men were no longer on the farm, with their crafts and with their families.

And far too many do not return home. Almost all of them read france as the country where they are buried now for more than 100 years. There was no fighting on german soil until shortly before the capitulation, so that the graves are scattered outside their german homeland.

Nine soldiers did not return home to zaubach, vorderreuth and romersreuth each reported three casualties, four young men lost their lives in schwand and 43 war veterans did not return to stadtsteinach. Also in the parish of wartenfels with the surrounding villages the names of 50 soldiers are known, who did not find their last rest in wartenfels or reichenbach.

In the war memorial chapel in zaubach as well as in the chapel at the cemetery in stadtsteinach you can find the names and dates of death of the fallen of the first world war. The parish of wartenfels also remembers its fallen in its church st. Bartholomew. Especially already a memorial plaque of the vorderreuth war participants, which is located in the chapel of the family schubler in the middle of the village, shows. On an oval porcelain plaque is written: "built in 1921 by johann and anna schubler von vorderreuth. In commemoration of the 1914-18 campaign. In the hail of bullets, storms and weather, god was always our savior."

The last ones returned home in 1920

By the end of 1918, more than 800,000 germans had become prisoners of war, the last of them returning home from allied camps in 1920. Not to be forgotten, however, are the almost 2.5 million people, not only soldiers, from 13 countries who have been german prisoners of war since the beginning of the war. A cruel display of numbers, behind which each individual fate deeply affected the hearts of the followers.

But the experiences, injuries and agonies experienced by those who returned home can hardly be described. Many were characterized by severe infections such as gas gangrene, unprofessional amputations, and the most severe forms of post-traumatic stress disorder, as these phenomena are known today. Unpaid died from infections that today could have been easily defeated, but penicillin was discovered only in 1928.

The "war tremblers – a clinical picture among some of the war returnees of that first "rough war" -, it is believed that the refugees suffered such a heavy, continuous artillery bombardment that they lost their coordination for the rest of their lives. This kind of "new war machine overburdened the soldiers psychologically in an inhuman way and made young men in need of severe care for the rest of their lives. The days of november are traditionally used to remember the saints, the dead and the fallen in our cemeteries. The fact that an inhumane death ended 100 years ago should always be remembered, even in the smallest communities and families. 

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