The past in the frame

The past in the frame

Johannes schlereth the coincidence played eugen reiter from reichenbach a special memory piece into the hand. While cleaning up the attic, he discovered two rolls of parchment. The content: the war chronicle of his grandfather stephan back, who fought as a soldier in the first world war. An important memento for his grandson, since he only has a wedding picture from 1902 as a souvenir.

"The story of my grandfather has been on my mind since I retired", says rider. "That’s about ten years." During this period he went in search of clues. "My mother told me all about him back then", the reichenbacher names the starting point of his research. Because of the war experiences his grandfather did not tell anything all his life. Clarity about his military career and the various places of deployment was provided by the war chronicle.

Over 100 years old

The heavy paper neatly lists in black ink where back was and when on the western front. In january 1916, the military drafted the rhoner at the age of 38. After about six months of training, he was sent to the front. The late recruitment had a happy coincidence in store for him: it enabled him to avoid the mission in the blood mud of verdun.

He still experienced the rough death in the trenches. According to the war chronicle, his regiment "honorably participated in the campaign" involved. Fought in 1916 on the somme and in the champagne, the high command transferred its unit in 1917 to the chemin des dames on the aisne. There, the french tried to defend themselves in a minutely prepared offensive in april 1917. The goal was to capture a high train, which was in german hands. However, the imperial troops had strongly fortified it, so that the french army suffered heavy losses there. The mood of the attackers sank to zero, mutinies began. The gruesome balance after the battle broke off in may: 190000 dead frenchmen, 160 000 dead germans and the hugelzug was still in german hands.

Last attempt at an attack

In 1918, the year of the war, the germans began their last offensive in the west in the somme region. This should – according to the propaganda – bring the victory. Also back had to be with his unit, the 24. Bavarian infantry regiment to attack with. The imperial troops came within about 100 kilometers of the french capital. But the advance was dearly bought with human lives. Added to this was the poor morale of the germans and the shortage of supplies: the spring offensive collapsed in on itself. The infantryman from reichenbach then served until the end of the war in the french-belgian border area. Even if the war on 11. November 1918, the army did not leave back until about ten days later.

Fortuna was on backs side

"He had a lot of luck", says his grandson. The chronicle is adorned with the saying "the song of the guns has faded, the old times have sunk". This was to prove true once again in his life. When the U.S. Army made its way through the region during world war II, his four sons were already allied prisoners of war. Back still had to fight in the volkssturm. His place of action would have been in steinach. There, on sunday 1945, fierce battles broke out with retreating troops. But: "he had luck again. They had already planned for it, but in the end the americans were faster in steinach, so that he was not used anymore." At the end of the war, his sons returned from captivity in good health. To commemorate the many happy fugues in life, the family built the chapel at the reichenbach sports home.

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