Siegelau, 23 Nov. 1919
Dear Brother and Family
We received your precious letter quite some time ago and it made us all very
happy to hear something from you once again. I did write half a letter some
weeks ago but was unfortunately prevented from completing it. I put off
from one Sunday to the next, and too much time went by. I have to apologize.
You will probably have waited for an answer for quite some time now.
Well, dear brother, you ask how things stand with us concerning that there
is quite a lot to write which I will take care of later. To be sure one does
not know if things will improve or get worse. But dear Brother and family,
everything would be possible to bear if we could only get our son dear son
Wilhelm back again. This sorrow is almost impossible to forget. The oldest,
Joseph, was drafted in May 1915. He was temporarily buried from a shelling
attack, and in 1917 poisoned by gas from which event he recovered only after
a long period of time. He has been with us again for a year now.
The second son, Wilhelm, was drafted in October 1915. He went to France in
1916 and was wounded in the spring of 1917. After recuperating he was
posted to the reserve units in Hamburg and then was assigned to the mountain
artillery, and in June of 1918 went to the hot country of Macedonia. When
they had to withdraw under extremely taxing circumstances in the middle of
September, he who had been such a strong individual, fell sick on the 5th of
October and suffered pneumonia in both lungs which he was unable to resist,
and he breathed out his young life in a military hospital in Neusatz,
Hungary, at the age of 22. This loss almost kills me but unfortunately there
is nothing to be done about it. All I want to write you is that we lost 30
young people (from Siegelau). I want to name them later. It does agitate me
terribly. Our cousin Winterbauer lost all of his 3 sons. Of those of our
sister Rosa, one is gone too; 3 came back.
I do not care particularly to write how things are going here. Everything is
terribly expensive. A suit that could be purchased for 30 marks before, is
400 to 500 marks now. That way you can figure things out approximately.
Horses are 7000 to 8000 marks. I have not had one for two years now.* The
"fox" (light brown) mare that I had, died of colic two years ago and I have
been doing everything with oxen since, and it works all right that way.
Now dear Brother we notice too that two of your sons were put in military
uniform but were fortunate enough not to have to come over here. One could
not help thinking at times whether perhaps dear sons would meet in this
This summer an American soldier with the occupying forces notified parents
in Elzach that he buried their son, sought for so long, in France.
Coincidence can bring everything, but unfortunately nothing good.
The division of our father's estate will be completed soon now and something
will go to you.** That which he actually farmed or used will not be much, I
am afraid; I believe about 600 marks. It will probably have to be deposited
in a bank here since the exchange value is very low.
As far as other things are concerned everything is all right with us. One of
the boys, August, is 15 years old and suffers from a lung ailment and has
unable to work since spring when I make good use of him. Vitus, who is two
years older and who has been trained in the craft of a mechanic, does not
particularly care for such matters (farming). The girls have come through
the miserable war very well. Since I took care of the duties of the mayor
too, I would like to give it up shortly.
Yesterday we auctioned off the right of the hunt. Up to the war it was 800
marks, and now it is 2610; to someone from Freiburg.
Now I want to conclude, hoping that this letter will reach you well and will
arrive soon. Your letter took a little more than three weeks to get here and
arrived here well and still closed.
Well, best regards from all of us. Farewell now, hoping for better times.
Please write again soon too and do not wait as long as I have
I will send you a picture of my late son Wilhelm later.
* Horses were conscripted in the war, as well as men.
** Franz Anton, the father, died April 15,1915
NOTES: (Helen Ramsey)
Of the brother Franz Anton's sons, Joseph was born July
24, 1895; Wilhelm on October 15, 1896.
Franz Anton, the father, died April 15, 1915, some 14 months after shipping
the clock and about eight months after Germany entered World War I. Any
letter telling of his death was not found among the letters preserved.
Partial sequence of war declarations of World War I pertaining mainly to
Wilhelm's presence in Macedonia and death in Hungary:
June 28, 1914 - Arch-duke Francis Ferdinand assassinated in Sarajevo,
July 28, 1914 - Austria declared war on Serbia.
August 1, 1914 - Germany declared war on Russia, ally of Serbia.
August 3, 1914 - Germany declared war on France (France refused to give
guarantee of neutrality; was ally of Russia.)
August 4, 1914 - Germany invaded Belgium.
England declared war on Germany.
August 6, 1914 - Austria declared war on Russia.
August 9, 1914 - Serbia declared war on Germany.
May 24, 1915 - Italy declared war on Austria.
October 14, 1915 - Bulgaria declared war on Serbia. This was followed by
declarations against Bulgaria by England, France, Serbia, Russia and Italy
within the following 5 days.
April 6, 1918 - United States declared war on Germany.
November 11, 1918 - Armistice.
Also might be added here the fact that in the period from July 28, 1914 to
December 10, 1917, there were a total of 48 declarations of war extending
from North and South America eastward to the orient to include Japan, Siam
and China, and in our hemisphere, even little Cuba and Panama.
Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in 1915 when it appeared that Germany
might be winning and Germany could promise to return to Bulgaria, Macedonian
territory annexed by Serbia in 1913, something the Allied Powers could not
do at the time. Bulgaria struck Serbia from the east and the Austro-German
forces attacked from the north. Serbia collapsed. Bulgaria occupied areas of
Macedonia in October 1915. The remains of Serbian army found refuge on
Although Germany had granted Bulgaria her wanted lands, she also exploited
her food supplies resulting in an ill-fed and ill-clothed Bulgarian army,
and when German help was needed most, Germany needed her men and supplies
elsewhere. Bulgaria, aware of her mistake, made peace quickly, agreeing to
demoblize her army, evacuate all occupied territory, and permit Allied
armies to cross Bulgaria to attack Turkey. The Serbian army returned and
attacked the small Austro-German detachments left in Serbia, and by November
1, 1918, were in Belgrade.
Franz Anton writes, "...they had to withdraw under extremely taxing
circumstances in the middle of September". Wilhelm was with the German
troops escaping Serbia and being pushed nowthward. He fell ill on October
and died in a military hospital in Neusatz, Hungary. Neusatz is now known as
"Novi Sad", a city in Yugoslovia located on the Danube, and 50 miles
northwest of Belgrade; population was about 102,500 in 1972 atlas.!