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    Deutschland, Deutschland über alles!

    Deutschland, Deutschland über alles!


    1. The legacy of Langemarck



    1.0


    This is the story of a Ritterktreuzträger and his family as seen through the diverse parts of a konvolut, this mosaic has been bonded together by feats of heroism and stands as the last witness to those incredible deeds. Beyond all the awards and Hitler’s National Socialism, there will always be two brothers' eternal love for the Fatherland, a love so intense that it has miraculously survived obliteration and two World Wars in order to reach us today.
    *
    *
    *********




    In the beginning, there was the Legend of Langemarck....
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Robert T.; 11-22-2020, 02:00 PM.

    #2
    1.1

    Kriegsfreiwilliger


    At the outbreak of war, the early German youth movement did not hesitate to wholeheartedly embrace the Empire's entry into World War I. War was viewed as highly idealized combat and struggle in battle as natural and organic need. Thousands of German university and technical college students volunteered enthusiastically for the army. Poorly prepared they were sent into action after less than seven weeks of training – much of it from elderly Officers of the reserve who had little idea of the killing power of modern artillery and machine-guns. Instead of being divided up and sent to different units, almost all these volunteers and other reservists went to make up the numbers in the hastily reformed German fourth army.

    “We had left lecture rooms, school benches, and work tables behind and in the short
    weeks of instruction we’d been melted together into a great, inspired body, the carrier
    of German idealism since 1870. Grown up in materialistic age, we all longed for the
    unusual, for great danger. The war had gripped us like an intoxicant.”

    Ernst Jünger [Storm of steel].

    ____________________



    Hermann Koopmann, a 21 years old “Kriegsfreiwilliger" (war volunteer) and law student at Marburg University found himself on the road to West Flanders, Belgium along with his fraternity brothers(*) and classmates to experience his baptism of fire as a soldier of 5./R.I.R.216 (XXIII. Reserve Corps).

    (*) As long as there have been universities in Germany, the students have banded together into associations like Burschenschaft and Corps, those different groups can be separated by their style of uniform, hat, and a brightly coloured sash done in the colors of that fraternity. The Corps were the most inclusive of student organizations with their houses, ritualized practices and stringent codes of conduct which often included duelling but always demanded consuming large amount of beer. They were elitist, nationalist, conservative and, with varying degrees of explicitness, anti-Semitic in thought and action. Hermann is shown here wearing the (green) cap and (coloured) sash of Corps Hasso-Nassovia Marburg. One interesting story is that student volunteers were often seen wearing their caps on the battlefield instead of the regulation spiked helmets!
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Robert T.; 11-22-2020, 06:20 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      1.2

      THE RACE TO THE SEA (First Battle of Ypres)



      After numerous losses in the Battle of the Marne and the collapse of the Schlieffen Plan in September 1914, the "race to the sea" began. Over the course of this race, the Fourth German Army advanced in the direction of Ypres. On November 10th 1914, the ill-fated German infantry regiments of XXIII. and XXVI. Reserve Corps suffered catastrophic casualties while launching badly prepared attacks against British army positions west of Langemarck and were shot down and slaughtered by experienced British riflemen.

      __________________________________________________

      “Our allied enemies had also been driven back over the canal, south of Dixmude, on the 10th November. The XXIII Reserve Corps had made a successful attack on Noordschoote and through Bixschoote against Het Sas. A long and bitter struggle took place for the high ground south-west of Bixschoote; but by evening the canal had been reached along almost its whole length between Noordschoote and Bixschoote, whilst about a brigade of the 45th Reserve Division and weak detachments of the 46th had crossed it. The inundation had however gradually extended southwards as far as this district, and put any far-reaching extension of this success out of the question. The XXIII Reserve Corps took prisoner about 1000 men and captured a considerable number of machine-guns in this operation.”

      YPRES, 1914
      AN OFFICIAL ACCOUNT PUBLISHED BY
      ORDER OF THE GERMAN GENERAL STAFF

      ________________________________________________

      On November 11th, the German high command released a communiqué about the ongoing battles around Ypres, which was printed on the first page in newspapers all over Germany;

      "Freiburger Tagblatt, No. 263, November 12, 1914:

      WTB [Wolff Telegraph Service]. Berlin, November 11. Report from General
      Headquarters. On the Yser section of the front we made good progress yesterday. We
      stormed Dixmuiden. Approximately 500 prisoners of war and about nine machine guns
      fell into our hands. Further to the south our troops forced their way over the canal. To the
      west of Langemarck our young regiments attacked, singing “Deutschland, Deutschland
      über alles” while advancing against the enemy lines and taking them."

      ______________________________________

      From this announcement, the basis of a long-lasting and influential myth was formed. Legend has it that the young infantry soldiers sang the first stanza of the song “Das Deutschlandlied”, as they charged and marched to certain death, the event became known in Germany as “KINDERMORD VON YPERN” (The Massacre of the Innocents at Ypres). The young victims were regarded by their surviving peers as symbols of a tremendous sacrifice for the nation and the youth of future German generations. The fallen symbolized the triumph of youth. They were not really dead but were sleeping in the lap of Christ, according to pictures widely distributed at the time.


      Hermann Koopmann was mortally wounded during the November 10th assault and died 8 days later at the Houthulst forest.

      ​​​
      Attached Files
      Last edited by Robert T.; 10-24-2020, 07:44 PM.

      Comment


        #4
        1.3

        LETTERS FROM HEAVEN


        Several touching letters from the war front (dated Nov. 7 - 8 - 9 - 10, 1914), written by Hermann to his family in the days before his death, were originally entrusted to a publisher by the grieving parents and appeared in a printed journal in 1915; for a privileged glimpse into the heart and soul of the thoughtful and religious young man.

        ______________________________


        THE WAY OUR YOUTH DIES
        Last letters of a young law student from Oldenburg addressed to his parents.


        “Saturday, November 7th 1914

        Dear Parents!
        Today begins with great joy. The dear letters of father, mother and Erwin from the 17th to the 19th of October arrived, and in addition to that, a care parcel sent by mother came into my hands. Thank you very much, dear parents. I have already read the letters once, but I will peruse them several times again today and in the following days. I must shamefully confess that I have not written yet to dear M. G. who delighted me by sending some chocolate. At the same time four newspapers arrived, among them one from the 29th and 30th of October. Thank God, now I have got something to do again. Yesterday it was no longer pleasant. Now you can see bright faces everywhere and people indulging in chocolate and other things. Do not send any more tins and rags to swaddle my shoes, rather send sweets and sausages. Last night everybody received hot soup, half a loaf of bread and a small piece of bacon. We can really be satisfied with that. If nothing unexpected happens, I will right away snuggle up in my hole, write a letter to M. G. and then read the “news for town and village” while enjoying chocolate and peppermint. I also found H’s postcard. Until now he has not been through much. I really believe that the artillery is much better off. I am healthy as can be.

        Farewell and thank you very much and best wishes.

        Your Hermann.”

        __________________________________

        "Sunday, November 8th 1914

        Dear Parents!

        Sunday, a day of peace. A magnificent morning. The sky is wholly blue and the
        November sun is spreading its warm rays upon our cold hands and clothes which are
        soaked from the nightly fog and humidity. I can hear the Sunday bells ringing in the
        distance – I am certain of it! This beautiful Sunday calm is disturbed only by the bullets
        hissing above us, aimed at us from the enemy trenches only 250 meters away, and the
        cannons that are roaring further away from us today. We are lying on straw and I have
        never been so content and serenely cheerful as on this wonderful day.
        Father’s dear third letter and the “news” from October 31st which arrived this morning are
        lying just next to me. They have made us extremely happy. Thank you very much, my
        dear parents, for the good news. So you have heard about my experiences from the
        wounded soldiers and meanwhile you must have also received my accounts. I am
        overjoyed even to receive the smallest message from you, and I am especially pleased
        that everything arrives, it seems, even though often quite late. The chocolate tastes
        wonderful! I don’t want to be immodest, but send more of it. May I list all my wishes? I
        believe that I am immodest and have talked too much about such things, but on the other
        hand, it is all part of our diet as the food is always the same here and often there is none
        at all.
        It seems that the enemy knows that we receive a hot dinner at 7 p.m. when night falls. In
        the last few days they have regularly opened such murderous fire around that time that
        our cooking team could not come near to us, and as a consequence we had cold pea or
        bean soup at half past eight – there is nothing else but we are satisfied. Otherwise there is
        just bread and every now and then we receive a small piece of bacon as a special treat –
        father was right. So you can imagine how delicious your presents are. Please send more
        and plenty! Above all, it is chocolate we wish for, or candy, sausages and simply
        anything which is edible. Quantity is more important than quality. And now the joyous
        Christmas season is approaching, so there will be soon marzipan and other delicious
        wonders. You might think that your Hermann is quite demanding, but if you could see
        what is going on here and how happy you will make us with your presents, then you will
        pardon my gluttony.
        Our battle is hard and, as I have read in the newspaper, the subject is being followed with
        the greatest interest and suspense. How many lives it has cost us! Last night, our third
        company commander succumbed to his wounds and D. was wounded, there is a spot
        in our trench where 20 soldiers were killed or wounded. God has really been mercifully
        protecting me until now and truly I have a premonition that I will see my native country
        again. And these premonitions often come true. How many have had premonitions about
        their death and, as I have heard in many cases, were then killed in action. Whatever that
        might mean, the most important thing is to be brave and that is what I have been doing
        so far. Victory is imperative and thanks God that the chances are favourable.

        Sincerely, your Hermann”

        _________________________

        ​​​​​​
        “Monday, November 9th

        Dear father!

        Thank you very much for your card from the third of November that I received today. We are still lying in the same trench, but unfortunately the beautiful and sunny weather has changed – it started to rain which has made our stay far less than comfortable. I hope that we will soon be replaced so that we can leave the trenches. Our bones are becoming terribly stiff and I am afraid that when it starts raining I may have to deal with a case of rheumatism, something from which I fortunately had been spared so far. Farewell sincerely,

        Your Hermann.”
        Attached Files
        Last edited by Robert T.; 11-23-2020, 07:39 AM.

        Comment


          #5
          1.4

          THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DEATH


          Hermann’s last ever message, written down as he was suffering from his wounds and hopelessly expecting to die. The laboured characters bearing witness to painful effort and losing strength, along with the journal’s article and comments from the publisher;
          ________________________________


          “My dearest parents!
          Myself too, I must die the most
          beautiful death. These are my
          last regards. Farewell and
          do not weep. I am
          eternally grateful for
          all the good that I have
          received from you. Farewell
          eternally. I will see you
          in heaven. Your
          Hermann"


          These last farewell greetings dated the 10th of November were written from the battlefield
          half an hour after an assault in which H. was gravely wounded. H. succumbed to his
          wounds on the 18th of November and lies buried in consecrated ground in Flanders.
          Deeply moved and shaken we read your last letters, dear, young hero. We did not know
          you, but we have grown fond of you and let you into our heart. When one day the great
          hour of reunion in heaven draws near, we will also look out for you, press your hand
          firmly and persistently and look into your big, childlike, heroic eyes. Until then, sleep
          protected by God’s care! You have done your duty for our dear Fatherland, and nobody
          could have achieved a greater feat. We thank you!
          GERMANY, WHAT HEROIC SONS YOU HAVE GOT!
          Attached Files
          Last edited by Robert T.; 11-22-2020, 09:41 AM.

          Comment


            #6
            1.5

            DER STUDENTENFRIEDHOF


            The Langemarck cemetery was begun when a small group of German graves was placed here in 1915. Between 1916 and 1918 the burials at Langemarck were increased by order of the German military directorate in Ghent. From the mid-1920s, the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge [VDK], the private German war graves organization, and the newly established Official German Burial Service in Belgium, began to renovate German cemeteries in Flanders. At that time there were fifteen German burial sites in the Langemark area, and this cemetery was named “Langemarck-Nord”.

            The VDK secured private funds, in the form of sponsorship from its members, and was able to carry out significant work on two cemeteries in Flanders; Langemark-Nord, that contained 10,143 war dead, and another further north at Roeselare, called Roeselare-de Ruyter and contained 2,806 war dead. In 1930, more work was carried out and the cemetery was renamed the “German Military Cemetery Number 123” that was officially inaugurated on 10 July 1932. The oak trees were planted at that time, the oak is the national tree of Germany, and over the intervening years these trees have grown very tall to dominate the very somber atmosphere of the cemetery.

            About 3,000 of the graves at Langemarck are those of the Student Volunteers who died in October and November 1914 and as a result of this, the cemetery became known as the Student Cemetery - Der Studentenfriedhof.



            Hermann’s grave was formerly marked by a wooden cross.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Robert T.; 10-22-2020, 10:16 AM.

            Comment


              #7
              1.6

              Journey's end.

              The original black wooden crosses have been replaced with stone slabs, Hermann’s grave is located at the burial plot A/3936.

              Inside the cemetery entrance building, carved into oak panels, are the names of the Student Soldiers: University students who volunteered to join the war, but were only given six weeks’ training before being sent to the Western Front.
              Attached Files
              Last edited by Robert T.; 10-22-2020, 12:50 PM.

              Comment


                #8
                1.7

                True love never dies


                A cenotaph was kept by the family in remembrance of the fallen son, a sombre wooden chest designed to conserve some of the memorabilia. Also preserved is a souvenir pamphlet containing the speeches delivered at the 1915 inauguration of a Memorial for fallen German soldiers (Battle of Yser 1914) at the Roeselare Military Cemetery (*)

                (*)The 2,449 fallen German soldiers in this cemetery were reburied in Menen in the 1950s and the Memorial probably dismantled.



                The voices of over 2,000 unfortunate souls were silenced on November 10th, 1914 and are now confined within a sole battlefield artefact; a quiet message to the living, still vibrant with emotions after 106 years and perhaps.....
                *
                *
                *
                The last tangible link between the Legend of Langemarck and our reality.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by Robert T.; 11-21-2020, 09:39 AM.

                Comment


                  #9
                  1.8

                  Memory of a loved one


                  Excerpt from the book of names.

                  Attached Files
                  Last edited by Robert T.; 10-23-2020, 07:32 AM.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    2. Bloodlines







                    2.0

                    The shattered dreams


                    Hermann Koopmann was born in Oldenburg in 1893, the son of a railway administrative official. His family had just moved in the region a few weeks before his birth, he grew up there with his older brother Otto (*) and Erwin in comfortable upper class surroundings. The youngest boy, Erwin, was born on New Year's Day 1900, and only 14 years old when Hermann died in the Great War. They were raised believing that they could accomplish anything they wanted in life, their father Otto (Sr.) stressed the need for a good education and they were encouraged to attend institutions of higher learning, but the war came and shattered all those dreams.

                    (*) The oldest boy Otto was named after his father as a symbol of familial fealty, he also volunteered to a WWI Reserve Infantry Regiment. He fortunately survived the 1st World War and later joined a Freikorps unit with his brother Erwin in 1919. He pursued a career in dentistry in the late 1920s and beyond.
                    *
                    *

                    *
                    ________________





                    In the first part of this presentation, I've tried to present a broad overview of the Langemarck legacy, we will now see how it played into Erwin's life and forever changed his existence.
                    Attached Files
                    Last edited by Robert T.; 11-23-2020, 07:45 AM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      2.1

                      OUR FATHER

                      Otto Johannes Koopmann

                      * October 30, 1859 in Elmshorn
                      † October 26, 1924 in Oldenburg
                      Married to:
                      Christiane Asmussen († July 28, 1930)



                      Architect and civil engineer:
                      • 1881 and 1883–1886, studies at the Technical University in Hanover.
                      • 1887, government building supervisor.
                      • 1891, government master builder (civil engineering subject).
                      • 1891-1892, government master builder in Erfurt.
                      • 1893, dismissal from civil service at his own request / Transfer to the building administration in the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg / Railway Building Inspector in Oldenburg.
                      • 1898, Railway District Inspector for the Oldenburg-Wilhelmshaven District.
                      • 1902, Senior Building Inspector.
                      • 1908, Building Council.
                      Memberships: From 1885, member of the "Bauhütte zum Weiße Blatt" in Hanover.


                      For his support to the war effort in 1916 (precious metals donation), he received a Commemorative Medal as a token of appreciation, a “thank you” note given to the big-hearted Germans for their financial help.
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by Robert T.; 11-11-2020, 10:25 AM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        2.2

                        THE FIRST DUTY


                        In the closing months of the war, Erwin now 18 years old, saw battlefront duties in France with Infanterie-Regiment Bremen Nr. 75 of the 17th Infantry Division. After less than 8 weeks of warfare (Sep. /Oct. 1918), he had been promoted to Unteroffizier because of his courageous conduct against the enemy and awarded the:

                        Prussian iron cross 2nd class, Oldenburg Friedrich August cross 2nd class and the Bremen Hanseatic cross
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by Robert T.; 10-09-2020, 06:19 PM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          2.3

                          Freikorps

                          Following Germany’s defeat in World War 1, the new German Republic attempted to stabilize itself and re-establish “law and order” with the appearance of paramilitary units whose job was to defend the nation against Bolshevism. Former senior officers in the German Army began raising private armies called Freikorps; a quasi-military force raised from the remnants of disbanded regiments, unemployed youth, and other discontents. Students were among the main groups to whom the appeal to defend the homeland was directed. In January 1919, a student coalition from Marburg University decided to offer assistance to the new Government, but only if they would receive assurance that classes would be closed and state examination dates postponed, so that the volunteers for paramilitary service would not be disadvantaged in comparison with those who choose not to perform their “patriotic” duties. In February, the Minister of Culture and the Reich Army Minister offered to suspend classes in return for students’ participation in temporary volunteer military service.

                          After facing the grim realities of war, Erwin Koopmann wanted to follow the path already laid down by his brother Hermann and wished to become a lawyer. Didn’t his father say that it was the only thing for an intelligent young man to study… Erwin was already scheduled to attend classes at Marburg University, but he answered the call and joined a Freikorps unit to protect the State against “BOLSHEVISM AND ANARCHY”. He first joined the Freikorps
                          Jäger-Bataillon (Ostpreußisches) Nr. 1. and later the Marinesturmkompanie in the Freikorps 2. Garde Res.Division which was deployed in Kurland from February to May 1919.

                          He was discharged on September 1st, 1919.



                          For his 3 months service “under fire” in Kurland in 1919, he was awarded the Baltic Cross.
                          Attached Files
                          Last edited by Robert T.; 11-07-2020, 11:23 AM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            2.4

                            Massacre at Mechterstädt


                            In early 1919, the strength of the Reichswehr, the regular army, was estimated at 350,000. There were in addition in excess of 250,000 men enlisted in the various Freikorps units. Under the terms of the Versailles Treaty, Germany was required to reduce its armed forces to a maximum of 100,000 soldiers. Freikorps units were therefore expected to be disbanded. On March 13th 1920, the Ehrhardt Brigade (a Freikorps unit) dissolution appeared imminent, its leaders were determined to resist and marched into Berlin to overthrow the Government. Its nominal leader was Wolfgang Kapp, a civil servant and fervent nationalist. The regular army refused to suppress the putsch and the Government was forced to abandon Berlin. The working class rallied to the defence of the Weimar Republic and staged a comprehensive general strike that crippled the Kapp regime's chances for survival. By March 17th, Kapp had resigned.
                            Leftist mobilization against the Kapp putsch could not be simply halted after the removal of the regime and as a result one region of Germany described as “MITTELDEUTSCHLAND” was crisscrossed with conflicts between pro-Kapp putschists, defenders of the republic and Communist revolutionaries. The Government now back in power in Berlin was forced one again to call upon Right-wing volunteer military troops to suppress the Left-extremists. Numerous calls for participation in military battalions appeared in the local newspapers. One of them issued in Marburg on March 19th and signed by the district commanding officer read:

                            “The Fatherland is in serious danger. In Thuringia, chaos reigns. Armed, marauding
                            bands march through the countryside. Immediate help is therefore needed! The troops in
                            Marburg including any volunteers will soon be transported (to Thuringia).
                            All authorities and all political parties that defend the Constitution are called upon to join
                            in securing peace and order. Anyone who can handle a weapon and who is willing to put
                            aside petty strife, has a duty to serve the Fatherland. In the hour of need we must look
                            above our narrow concerns and see the whole picture; (we must) put aside our personal
                            interests and strive for common goals.”


                            An extra edition of the local newspaper published on the same day reported an immediate response. “As a consequence of today’s announcement,” the article read, “numerous volunteers, most of them students, reported to the local battalion. They are being readied for service.” A number of fraternity members from Marburg University had already fought in Freikorps units in Magdeburg and in the Baltic in 1919. Above all, the students who turned out to volunteer for the STUDENTENKORPS MARBURG (Stukoma) were chiefly demobilized army veterans. At least 50 Corps Hasso-Nassovia members volunteered for Thuringia, together with elements from several other Marburg fraternities. On March 25th, a few days after the Stukoma arrival in Thuringia, some students shot and killed 15 unarmed prisoners during an “escape attempt” near Mechterstädt. A total of 14 students were incriminated and in June 1920 were found not guilty by a Military Court; because of the defendants' considerable military experience, the Court believed that their actions could hardly have been unprovoked…
                            In the aftermath, the students were confronted with a series of repressive actions and the Government banned university students' further participation in volunteer military units. Right-wing students throughout Germany recognized the incident as a symbol for war veterans' unselfish patriotism in service to an ungrateful and weak-willed Government. It exacerbated an already violent struggle over the existence of the new state and contributed to a shift of power that benefited the Republic’s growing number of opponents.







                            After serving in Freikorps units in 1919, Erwin enrolled at the Philipps-University of Marburg for Law.
                            On June 19th 1920, he was accepted into the Corps Hasso-Nassovia.

                            Erwin is wearing the Hasso-Nassovia's ritual green cap and sash.
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by Robert T.; 11-23-2020, 07:50 AM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              2.5

                              THE BADGE OF WISDOM


                              After Marburg, Erwin moved to the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel and the Albertus University in Königsberg (*). In 1924 he was also active in the Corps Hansea Königsberg.

                              In Königsberg he entered the police force as an officer candidate in the Stahlhelm Organization.

                              The Albertina University is well-known for having been the “home” of IMMANUEL KANT (1724/1804); a German philosopher considered by many to be the most influential thinker of modern times. Erwin really enjoyed the intellectual challenges that were presented to him, in particular the application of Kantian insights. As a reminder of the period spent at the Albertina, he cherished a German silver coin dated 1724 (Kant's year of birth) that had been turned into a brooch; a BADGE OF WISDOM for the deserving student.

                              (*) The Teutonic Knights founded the castle of Königsberg (the King’s mountain) in 1256. On August 17th 1944, the University celebrated its 400th anniversary and during the nights of August 26th to August 29th, Königsberg suffered heavy damage from British air attacks and burned for several days. Almost 80 percent of the city and the University campus were destroyed, first by the Royal Air Force, and then by Soviet shelling in April 1945 (Kant’s grave fortunately escaped destruction). Almost all German residents who remained at the end of the war, an estimated 200,000 out of the city's prewar population of 316,000, were expelled from the city. Many people died of hunger during the war's closing stages and the shortages which followed. During this time, mass looting took place all over East Prussia, Red Army soldiers allegedly raped a huge number of German female civilians in this region. After the war, Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad, and was installed with predominantly Russian settlers from other areas of the Soviet Union. In 2005, the University was renamed after Immanuel Kant and attained federal status as Immanuel Kant State University of Russia.
                              _____________________________


                              "Two things fill the mind with ever increasing
                              wonder and awe, the more often and the more
                              intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the
                              starry heavens above me and the moral law within me."

                              Immanuel Kant
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by Robert T.; 11-23-2020, 06:26 PM.

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