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#1 archibaldsidney

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:32 AM

Hi
Can any one tell me what was the size of the professional , standing, army of the Germany Empire (Prussia and the Kingdoms and Sates) in 1914. I know how many troops could be mobilised etc and the reserves etc but I would like to know the size of the core- the professionals who each year took the males identified for military service and trained them. Plenty of sources give the number of troops on mobilisation though there are lots of varied estimates. Presumably each regiment in the army list had a peace time professional establishment to which the call up men were added and through which they were rotated.

Thanks in anticipation for your help
Phil

#2 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:30 PM

Phil

Not a definitive answer, but a couple of points in reply. The first thing to note is that there never was an Imperial German Army: Navy yes; Army no. Instead it was made up of contingents, each of which retained its own chain of command. Of the 25 peace time corps, 19 were Prussian, 3 were Bavarian, two were Saxon and one (XIII) came from Wurttemberg. To understand the nuts and bolts of the organisation, I suggest that you obtain from Joe Rookery, who is on the Forum, a copy of his book: Handbook of Imperial Germany.

However, to start you off, here are a few overall figures relating to the collective armies in 1913:

Officers: 27,985
Doctors: 2,379
Veterinary officers: 821
Paymasters: 1162
Skilled tradesmen (armourers, saddlers etc): 1,191
NCOs: 94,535
OR: 540,750 (Including 6,548 musicians, drummers etc)
Horses: 131,046

Jack

#3 bob lembke

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 09:44 PM

Hi
Can any one tell me what was the size of the professional , standing, army of the Germany Empire (Prussia and the Kingdoms and Sates) in 1914. I know how many troops could be mobilised etc and the reserves etc but I would like to know the size of the core- the professionals who each year took the males identified for military service and trained them. Plenty of sources give the number of troops on mobilisation though there are lots of varied estimates. Presumably each regiment in the army list had a peace time professional establishment to which the call up men were added and through which they were rotated.

Thanks in anticipation for your help
Phil


Phil;

First of all, please consider any input from Jack as absolutely authorative.

Let me flesh our for you, a bit, the structure of what could be considered the standing army (as Jack said, more correctly, four armies, plus a number of units associated with smaller states whose rulers were not one of the four German kings).

There were the 25 army corps of active or line regiments and other units. Then, most, but not all of these (active Army corps, composed of divisions, brigades, regiments, and assorted smaller active units) had a related Reserve unit, and usually the numbering of the units was the same. For example, in the corps district from which my family came, there was an active III. Armeekorps, and at the outbreak of war it probably was at about 70% war strength, with a roughly full complement of officers and senior NCOs, but only about two-thirds of the OR/EMs. When mobilization occurred, this unit was put on a war footing; some cadre was added, some withdrawn for other service, and the ranks of the OR/EMs were immediately filled to full war strength from reservists immediately called up. For example, a typical active infantry company might be immediately filled out from 180 men to 260 men. Additional equipment might be drawn. These units were filled up and equipped for war in about four days, and left for the front.

Meanwhile, most of these active units, say a regiment, had a reserve counterpart. (I call them a "shadow unit".) However, for example, a reserve infantry regiment might only have a few cadre on active duty, I don't know, 10-20 (I am guessing here), instead of an active duty regiment being at say 2400 men on active duty to be filled out to 3000 in a few days. At mobilization, in order to "stay out of the hair" of the active counterpart unit, the reserve unit might start organizing in another facility, perhaps a school, instead of the active unit's Kaserne. Som,etimes they even formed in another, nearby town. These reserve units had to add, not the typical 30% more men of the active unit, but perhaps 97%, officers, NCOs, and OR/EMs, generally from reserve rolls. (In the case of my grand-father, he was a Landwehr officer, a lower grade of reserve formation than the Reserve, but at mobilization he was made the Id, a leader of one of the four sub-sections of the Operations Section of the Generalkommando of III. Reservekorps, although most Id's in the commands of the army corps of this Army were active duty General Staff officers. But he was exceptionally able and an excellent professional manager. In some cases an experienced General Staff officer was taken out of the command staff of a regular active duty unit and put in the same position in a reserve unit; my suspicion is that it was done to stiffen the reserve unit's staff, if anything the reserve unit needed a "better" staff officer to help manage the "greener" unit.

The reserve units were similar in structure to its active counterpart, except that generally a reserve infantry division only had half the artillery of its active counterpart. They were freely put into line like their active counterparts and generally performed quite well.

The typical OR/EM was called up at 20, and served in the active army for two years, and then served in the Reserve for five more. Some branches, such as cavalry, serve three years active and then four years in the Reserve, again for a total of seven years. So, at mobilization, there generally was at least two more resevists from the Reserve for each OR/EM on active duty. This was enough to double the number of active units and have some left over for reasons of selection, disability, etc.

The Reserve units "were out the door" in only a few more days; I think in the case of III. Reservekorps perhaps four days later that when the III. Armeekorps was able to "go out the door". The reserve unit had most of their officers from the reserves and civilian life, as well as the EM/ORs.

After these two classes of units formed up and left for the front, a complex stew of other units were formed, Landwehr, Landsturm, Ersatz, Marine=Infanterie; many fit for combat (some only on the Eastern Front, like some Landsturm units), others for guarding POWs and lines of communication. This whole picture is very complex.

Many, many artillery units were formed from warehoused weapons, many stored at fortresses, and reservist manpower. This included the very specialized big 42 cm and 30.5 cm siege guns, which went from non-existant to fully formed from resources drawn from all over Germany and headed for the front in only five or six days.

I hope that this was useful.

Bob Lembke

#4 khaki

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 12:22 AM

Sorry to jump into the middle of your topic but it made me curious, if there were four major armies of each kingdom, what was the oath each recruit took? was it to the king of the recruit's particular kingdom and the Kaiser or was the Kaiser only involved in the Prussian oath
khaki

#5 joerookery

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 12:27 AM

Presumably each regiment in the army list had a peace time professional establishment to which the call up men were added and through which they were rotated.




Phil,

True but it did not work exactly the way most people think of it. Let me start off with saying thank you to Jack as anything he says always carries much weight. This was not a matter of having a cadre that people rotated into. Rather it was a system designed to expand very rapidly.

In general the 4 specific armies were on a 2 year service commitment for foot troops. That means that half of the soldiers on active duty had completed year 1 and were well on their way to completing the year 2 in October, when the war broke out in August. So half of the soldiers on active duty were in year 2. Half of the soldiers on active duty were in year one. Based on a fairly standard training calendar an individual recruit would go through those 2 years and be trained at various levels by a cadre. The authorization of soldiers and leaders is best specified in detail in the book:

Friedag, B. (1914). Fuhrer durch Heer und Flotte 1914. Krefeld, Germany: Prussian Kriegminister.

Now the percentages that Bob alluded to really come into being.

Active Units : 54 percent active duty soldiers
46 percent reserve soldiers.
Reserve Units: 1 percent active duty soldiers
44 percent reserve soldiers.
55 percent Landwehr soldiers from the 1st Ban
Landwehr Units: 62 percent Landwehr soldiers from the 1st Ban
38 percent Landwehr from the 2nd Ban


Stepping back from it for just a minute you can see that units were about half full. Of that half-full half of those over one quarter were 2nd year recruits and the other quarter were first-year recruits who had only gone through the summer training cycle. Reserve units and Landwehr did not exist in peacetime. Suddenly there was this massive expansion that stretched the “cadre” as well as the individual soldiers. As Jack has broken down there were about 700,000 authorized peacetime soldiers. Upon mobilization, that number grew to three million. By January 1915, the German army had 4,357,000 men of whom 2,618,000 were in the field. Those astounding numbers existed despite the enormous losses of 1914.

We really started digging when Terence Zuber wrote his books on the frontier and Mons. While we have had some significant umbrage with his training characterization you can see from this little example that the unit you went to war with was not the unit that you trained with.

Bob,

It was really nice meeting you in Baltimore but our talk was way too short to even touch on this subject. We are working on a new book which is greatly expanded and talks about training and doctrine in what we see as far better detail and lacking the slant of current publications. However, despite the fact that it is substantially completed, after our recent meeting with our publisher I'm not so sure we will continue on with that publisher.

Jack,

Have you ever considered the logistical nightmare associated with providing a sanitary environment around so many horses? Staggering!

#6 joerookery

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 12:40 AM

Khaki,

Sorry, just saw your question.


The oath of loyalty or Fahneneid was administered to the recruits several weeks after joining the regiment. The oath was administered one of three ways during a major ceremony: the soldier’s left hand was placed on the colors, the point of an officer's sword, or an artillery piece, and then he raised his right hand. Sometimes this was done in small groups, and sometimes at a larger formation.

The oath in Prussia was : I (name) swear to God the Omniscient and Omnipotent one bodily oath that His Majesty the King of Prussia (Alsace-Lorraine, "the emperor"), Wilhelm II, my most gracious sovereign, in any and all incidents on land and at sea, in war and peace time and location where it may be, to serve faithfully and honestly carry Majesty's benefit and best prevent harm and disadvantage, however, that I follow were read Articles of War and I issued regulations and instructions exactly and I want to be as it is a righteous, intrepid, duty and honor-loving soldiers and behooves. So wahr mir Gott helfe durch Jesum Christum und sein heiliges Evangelium! (Jewish Soldiers. "So wahr mit Gott helfe!")

This stayed the same for the other states with the name of the ruler inserted. For the Hansiatic cities they inserted… the high Senate and the free and Hanseatic state of ________.

#7 khaki

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:32 AM

Joe Rookery,
Thank you for your reply about the individual oaths,
khaki

#8 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

I am glad you came along Joe. It does not take long before I run out of detail regarding this sort of question. By the way, are you aware of the Militaergeschichtliches Handbuch Baden-Wuerttemberg (ISBN 3-17-009856-X) by Hans-Joachim Harder (a long time stalwart of the MGFA) published 1987 by Kohlhammer, Stuttgart under the auspices of the MGFA when it was still located in Freiburg im Breisgau? H-J gave me a copy some years ago, but I suspect that it is still available. I am sure that you would find it useful and interesting.

There is also a lot of useful information about ceremony and military symbols in Symbole und Zeremoniell in deutschen Streitkraeften vom 18. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert by Hans Peter Stein. Mittler, Herford & Bonn 1984 (ISBN 3-8132-0161-9). As well as giving four succesive versions of the Prussian oath of allegiance from as far back as 1713, it quotes the Saxon oath in its 1915 form: 'I (name) swear by omniscient, almighty God a solemn oath that I will, throughout my service as a soldier, faithfully serve His Majesty King Friedrich August of Saxony, be obedient to His Majesty the Kaiser and military law and will always conduct myself as a courageous and honourable soldier.'

It also notes that the formulae used by the other contingents also made specific reference to the binding nature of the relationship of the soldier to, say, the person of the king or duke concerned, the Senate of a Hanseatic city, or, in the case of 'Reichsland' Alsace-Lorraine, the Kaiser himself.

Jack

#9 archibaldsidney

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:33 PM

Sorry to jump into the middle of your topic but it made me curious, if there were four major armies of each kingdom, what was the oath each recruit took? was it to the king of the recruit's particular kingdom and the Kaiser or was the Kaiser only involved in the Prussian oath
khaki



From what I have read after 1871 the States and Kingdom armies retained their traditions etc but swore an oath of allegiance to the Kaiser. Phil

#10 archibaldsidney

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:43 PM

Phil

Not a definitive answer, but a couple of points in reply. The first thing to note is that there never was an Imperial German Army: Navy yes; Army no. Instead it was made up of contingents, each of which retained its own chain of command. Of the 25 peace time corps, 19 were Prussian, 3 were Bavarian, two were Saxon and one (XIII) came from Wurttemberg. To understand the nuts and bolts of the organisation, I suggest that you obtain from Joe Rookery, who is on the Forum, a copy of his book: Handbook of Imperial Germany.

However, to start you off, here are a few overall figures relating to the collective armies in 1913:

Officers: 27,985
Doctors: 2,379
Veterinary officers: 821
Paymasters: 1162
Skilled tradesmen (armourers, saddlers etc): 1,191
NCOs: 94,535
OR: 540,750 (Including 6,548 musicians, drummers etc)
Horses: 131,046

Jack



Thanks Jack.
I understand this but what I am trying to get at is the number of the actual professional body/cadre which exisited - paid as it were, who received in the men choosen for military service from the pool available and trained then during their years with the colours and then were ready to receive the next lot as they came in when those trained were transferred to the reserve. Surely not all the 540,750 ORs were regulars? Was this Cadre NCOs? Where did the NCOs come from? Promising intake who then signed on to become regulars instead of moving into the reserve? I realise that this is a composite for adding the contingents of Prussia and all the states.
By the way I think your books are brilliant.

Phil

#11 archibaldsidney

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 01:50 PM

Phil,

True but it did not work exactly the way most people think of it. Let me start off with saying thank you to Jack as anything he says always carries much weight. This was not a matter of having a cadre that people rotated into. Rather it was a system designed to expand very rapidly.

In general the 4 specific armies were on a 2 year service commitment for foot troops. That means that half of the soldiers on active duty had completed year 1 and were well on their way to completing the year 2 in October, when the war broke out in August. So half of the soldiers on active duty were in year 2. Half of the soldiers on active duty were in year one. Based on a fairly standard training calendar an individual recruit would go through those 2 years and be trained at various levels by a cadre. The authorization of soldiers and leaders is best specified in detail in the book:

Friedag, B. (1914). Fuhrer durch Heer und Flotte 1914. Krefeld, Germany: Prussian Kriegminister.

Now the percentages that Bob alluded to really come into being.

Active Units : 54 percent active duty soldiers
46 percent reserve soldiers.
Reserve Units: 1 percent active duty soldiers
44 percent reserve soldiers.
55 percent Landwehr soldiers from the 1st Ban
Landwehr Units: 62 percent Landwehr soldiers from the 1st Ban
38 percent Landwehr from the 2nd Ban


Stepping back from it for just a minute you can see that units were about half full. Of that half-full half of those over one quarter were 2nd year recruits and the other quarter were first-year recruits who had only gone through the summer training cycle. Reserve units and Landwehr did not exist in peacetime. Suddenly there was this massive expansion that stretched the "cadre" as well as the individual soldiers. As Jack has broken down there were about 700,000 authorized peacetime soldiers. Upon mobilization, that number grew to three million. By January 1915, the German army had 4,357,000 men of whom 2,618,000 were in the field. Those astounding numbers existed despite the enormous losses of 1914.

We really started digging when Terence Zuber wrote his books on the frontier and Mons. While we have had some significant umbrage with his training characterization you can see from this little example that the unit you went to war with was not the unit that you trained with.

Bob,

It was really nice meeting you in Baltimore but our talk was way too short to even touch on this subject. We are working on a new book which is greatly expanded and talks about training and doctrine in what we see as far better detail and lacking the slant of current publications. However, despite the fact that it is substantially completed, after our recent meeting with our publisher I'm not so sure we will continue on with that publisher.

Jack,

Have you ever considered the logistical nightmare associated with providing a sanitary environment around so many horses? Staggering!



I understand exactly what you are saying about the rotation through of those men choosen for military service from the available "Class" but how many and who was there to receive these. There must have been a regimental staff who trained the untrained recruits and processed them through. That is the number I am trying to get at. The professional soldiers. How were these recruited and how many years did they serve. There must have been a professional ooficer class who might be termed as regulars.

Phil

#12 Glenn J

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 03:23 PM

Phil,

As a general rule of thumb, the figures as quoted by Jack for the officers, NCOS, Medical Officers, Veterinary Officers and paymasters should all be considered as the regular full time professional cadre of the individual contingents. The vast majority of the ORs were conscripts who served their two years with the colours before being discharged to the reserve although a smallish percentage did re-enlist (Kapitulanten) for futher periods of service. NCOs generally were found from the graduates of NCO schools and re-enlisted soldiers and typically served for a period of twelve years although not exclusivley so. Some Senior NCOs served for many years in excess of twelve years, especially those in specialist appointments such as Bandmasters, Ordnance NCOs, Ammunition Technical NCOs, Paymaster Aspirants etc.

Regards
Glenn

#13 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 04:31 PM

Phil

Just to address this question of oaths of allegiance. It was laid down in the Constitution of the Reich that the oath was to the relevant contingent commander but that it must include the fact that, 'the orders of the Kaiser were to be obeyed without fail'. As you can see from the quoted Saxon oath, that was exactly the position for that contingent. However, the Bavarians, being Bavarian and viscerally anti-Prussian, insisted, for example, on retaining as many distinctive elements as possible. This included their own regimental numbering system - unlike the other contingents which accepted Prussian numbers in addition to their traditional ones - and they also swore to obey the orders of the Kaiser only in time of war.

As for the size of the peacetime cadre, it was exactly as described by Glenn. I quoted the overall OR figure, just to give you an idea of the size of the standing army just before the war broke out.

Jack

#14 joerookery

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 11:05 PM

Where did the NCOs come from? Promising intake who then signed on to become regulars instead of moving into the reserve?



Non-commissioned Officers (NCO) came from two sources, either promoted from the ranks or graduates of NCO training schools. Students graduated from Volksschule at approximately the age of 14. Military service would not begin until age 17 when young men could be inducted into the Landsturm. In addition to work, there was an option of joining a NCO preparatory training school (Unteroffiziervorschulen) after finishing Volksschule. There were nine such schools scattered throughout the empire (Weilburg, Sigmaringen, Annaburg, Jülich, Wohlau, Bartenstein, Greifenberg i.P., Fürstenfeldbruck, and Marienberg). The preparatory school had a general curriculum with emphasis on physical development throughout the two-year course. Upon graduation from the Unteroffiziervorschulen, students could go to a NCO school (Unteroffizierschulen). There were nine of these (Potsdam, Jülich, Biebrich (in 1914 Wetzlar), Weissenfels, Ettlingen, Marienwerder, Treptow a.R., Fürstenfeldbruck, and Marienberg). The course lasted two years for preparatory school graduates or three years for those who joined the NCO school directly without having gone through the preparatory school. This was strictly a military school, whose graduates were either 19 or 20 years old. Upon graduation, they had a compulsory period of service for four years in the active army. Graduates were posted to the regiments with some coming out as sergeants and others as Gefreiter. These schools accounted for about 25 percent of all NCOs.

The NCOs promoted from the ranks and were generally those who had reenlisted (Kapitulanten). While there was no specific time in grade requirements for promotion, it was seldom done in less than two years. Annually the members of the new class were scrutinized and those expected to reenlist and be suitable as an NCO attended special instruction within the regiment.

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#15 Robert Dunlop

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 07:31 AM

However, the Bavarians, being Bavarian and viscerally anti-Prussian...

:lol: Even to this day, though the area to the north of Bavaria is not allowed to be called Prussia officially. ;)

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#16 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 08:19 AM

... thus giving continuing life and relevance to their favourite adjective of contempt: saupreiss ...

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#17 bob lembke

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 10:34 PM

Phil,

As a general rule of thumb, the figures as quoted by Jack for the officers, NCOS, Medical Officers, Veterinary Officers and paymasters should all be considered as the regular full time professional cadre of the individual contingents. The vast majority of the ORs were conscripts who served their two years with the colours before being discharged to the reserve although a smallish percentage did re-enlist (Kapitulanten) for futher periods of service. NCOs generally were found from the graduates of NCO schools and re-enlisted soldiers and typically served for a period of twelve years although not exclusivley so. Some Senior NCOs served for many years in excess of twelve years, especially those in specialist appointments such as Bandmasters, Ordnance NCOs, Ammunition Technical NCOs, Paymaster Aspirants etc.

Regards
Glenn


My father told me that if an OR/EM served for 14 years, and had a good record as to behavior, he was guaranteed some sort of civil service job, such as mail man. My cousin told me that in our village the mailmen were ex-soldiers and refused to address one of my ancestors by his given name, but insisted on addressing him as "Fuchs III", in the military fashion.

My grandfather was in the peasantry so was of insufficient social status to become an officer in a regular fashion. So he avoided the Ulans, the family's traditional service, and went into the Foot Artillery, where he became a NCO, and then was able to apply and go to the Feuerwerker school for two years and became a Feuerwerker and then an Oberfeuerwerker. Then, with more exams, he eventually became a Feuerwerker=Leutnant. He had a business-like marriage (probably through a broker) but did not live with his wife (one of those marriages where a poor officer married a wealthier woman for the income to be an officer; the woman had the prestige of being married to an officer.), and established a "love-family" at his military post near Denmark, to a Danish woman. (I am from the love-family.) Then his wife found out about the second family, and poisoned him with Deadly Nightshade (which my wife grows in her vegetable garden.). He was paralysed but not killed and had to resign his commission, and instead of criminal charges he went the civil suit route and got a big settlement from his wife, and then he was a gentleman farmer. Then he became the director of the Berlin stockyards, an enormous operation, with about 100 buildings, including a hotel, a bourse, rail station and barge wharves, etc. Upon war he was made the Id of III. RK (of six divisions), and after the war I think he joined the Berlin Stock Exchange.

I have run thru this personal history as it is quite a narrative in the sociology of the Prussian Army and Prussian society.

As this thread has assembled several of the very top researchers of the Imperial Army anywhere, I am selfishly going to post a couple of questions to assist my research.

1. My grand-father, after the war, engaged in a series of lawsuits with a very famous and rich man, a fellow reserve officer, and after besting him in the courts, he challanged him to a duel with automatic pistols. The other officer declined (wisely - when I asked my father about it, thinking it was a joke, and my father said: "Not at all. Your grand-father was an excellent shot, and he fully intended to kill the son-of-a-bitch!"), and was tossed out of the Reserve Officers' Association for his refusal to duel. Are the Berlin court records from say 1920 existant and available?

2. How can I find out who was the district attorney (chief prosecuting attorney) of Thorn in 1914? (He was my grand-father's adjutant in Belgium.)

Again a personal twist in the thread, but I hope an interesting one, one that adds some color to this discussion, for those not that familiar with Prussia and its Army.

Glenn may remember that he kindly provided me with data on my grand-father when he was a non-com in the Army in the 1880's (an amazing research feat!), and supplied me with an article of my grand-father's published in the Feuerwerker Ehrenbuch. (I have since bought the book.) Many thanks again!

Bob

#18 joerookery

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 11:49 PM

Bob some trivia...

There were two separate court systems: the civil courts (controlled by the Minister of Justice, who was responsive to the Reichstag), and the honor court (influenced by the Minister of War and made up of officers of the regiment).

Military officers, according to the army, were supposed to take their grievances to an honor court when the two antagonists were of honorable status. The decision of the honor court made up of other officers was binding and took precedence over any decision in a civil court. The regiment annually elected the honor court and it consisted of a captain and two lower ranking officers. The constitutional thought was that military officers were not liable to the Minister of Justice and the civil courts, but rather would work out their issues in an honor court. Officers were duty bound to shake hands and try to solve the disagreement. If that did not work, the honor court would try to settle the dispute nonviolently. The final option to restore one's honor was a duel. Officers subject to the code of honor were expected to duel. An unwillingness to duel would show unreliability. In general, anyone refusing to duel would be drummed out of the army. This recourse was used widely. Being drummed out of the Army was very bad. The disgraced officer was not simply removed from the officer corps, but excluded from the officer caste (Offizierstand). The individual was almost a non-person, forfeiting his pension and the right to wear a uniform. He also could not use his old title and rank. There really was no way to redeem yourself until the actual casualties of the 1st world war provided an excuse for officials to look the other way. Decisions by the honor court were final, subject to the approval of the Kaiser.

The issue was convoluted as duels were not only illegal, but were also officially quasi-discouraged by a cabinet ordinance from the Kaiser issued 1 January 1897. History shows that regular officers wounded in duels received pensions. Reserve officers dueled much more commonly than regular officers in an attempt to mimic their respected active brothers. Some officers viewed one-year volunteers as not worthy of a duel. Preference for dueling was given to those who were members of dueling fraternities. By dueling, one could prove one's worth.



#19 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 06:04 AM

Though presumably Joe, we are talking about duelling with 'heavy' swords held above the head and with arm guards and semi-protective face masks which left only the cheeks exposed? - rather than pistols?

Jack

#20 bob lembke

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 10:52 AM

I remember Joe's passage from his Handbook. These court cases (two) were in regular civil courts. I am not going to tell the whole story, as I may attempt to approach the famous family for help, and don't want to alert them. When my grand-father's health was damaged by malaria contracted in the marshes of Russia (the same year that my father got malaria at Gallipoli), he could not serve at the front, but as a Feuerwerk=Hauptmann he supervised munitions production. This famous family owned munitions factories, and offered, during the war, him a very large (very) to pass a large consignment of defective and dangerous ammunition, but my g-f refused the bribe (but kept the proof) and condemned the faulty ammunition. My g-f ridiculed the business enterprise of the prominent family in a letter to a newspaper, and the patriarch of the family sued my g-f for a great sum in the courts. In the course of the trial, my g-f produced the proof, an extremely large check, and the case was thrown out. Then my g-f sued the head of the family, but for the sum of one Phennig, to make it clear that it was a matter of honor, not an attempt to extract money from the extremely wealthy family. He won that case, and then challenged the head of this family to a duel. (My g-f was what we would call a "gun nut", and his favorite pistol was the "broomstick" C96 Mauser, which I have heard is very accurate. I have a great photo of him from Russia, full uniform, Pickelhaube, C96 in a large case, sword, map-case, and over all a white snow-camoflage coat with white fur trimmings.) After the war and the end of the Empire I am sure that the honor court system was defunct, or probably not concerned with war-time squabbles. There is another awkward aspect to this case that I will keep to myself for the moment.

I am honored as I have been told that I am a great deal like my g-f, by a cousin who knew him well as a child. I too write letters to newspapers that land me in "hot water", never mind excessively long posts that wander all over the place.

Bob

#21 archibaldsidney

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 11:40 AM

Hi Gentlemen
I am grateful for all your responses to my original post. They have been most informative and helpful. Just shows how us beginners can communicate with the giants on these topics. Well done Great War Forum.
Best Wishes
Phil



#22 joerookery

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:05 PM

Though presumably Joe, we are talking about duelling with 'heavy' swords held above the head and with arm guards and semi-protective face masks which left only the cheeks exposed? - rather than pistols?


This can be sort of tricky and confusing but no Jack I am talking about pistols. There was sort of a graduation from the dueling societies of the universities to be a commissioned officer. Once you got into the latter group the endeavor was really to kill the other guy. All sorts of cases and all sorts of injuries. You have probably read this however for anyone else there is a fascinating little book written in English called “life in a garrison town” that was actually banned in Germany. It was from the turn-of-the-century and was written by Lieut. in an active-duty train Battalion. In that book the author goes through all of the melodrama associated with the officer class in a unit that had marital infidelity, debt problems, corruption and all the bad things still found in units today.

This book written in 1902-3, was banned in Germany , and the author found himself the object of courts martial. . The book was banned as it "libeled superior officers." True, but was generally admitted to be common course by the Minister of War after the trial. The maladies pointed out generally follow what I have learned of Prussian Officers. The author, Lt Bilse, detailed what he saw as horrible problems in a society of the elite officers in a remote garrison in Alsace-Lorraine.
The issues uncovered in "fiction" were:

A regimental commander (Similar to a modern US Battalion commander.) who made what Bilse considered unreasonable decisions.
A regimental commander who was blackmailed under the sway of a subordinate’s dominant wife.
Unfaithful wives and officers.
Officers in horrible debt.
An officer who lied leading to the undeserved punishment of an OR.
Abusive treatment of an OR.
A senior NCO who lied leading to the trial and dismissal of another NCO.
A Senior NCO "on the take".
An officer who deserted and ran away with another officer's wife.

#1 - 3 are fairly standard complaints. Juniors frequently despise and judge seniors (right and wrong) and marital infidelity exists in all parts of society. (Janet would cut my ears off though). What is not standard is that Prussians were expected to duel to avenge their
honor. Dueling had been outlawed by the Kaiser (in an effort to keep up numbers in a chronically short officer’s corps). If you did duel you would be sentenced to fortress arrest for a couple months as it was illegal. If you chose not to duel you would be found a coward by a regimental court of honor and drummed out of the service for conduct unbecoming. Fortress arrest was always for choice. You had no choice but to duel if you wanted to stay in the army. The book relates a sad story of a captain whose wife ran away after a torrid affair with a lieutenant. The captain was obliged to challenge the lieutenant to a duel to defend the honor of his now missing wife. During the duel the captain was horribly wounded and had to be medically pensioned. So he lost wife, family, income, health and job. Once again the unhappy couple picture that dominate German marriages come to light.


Dueling with a sword in a student fraternity was a completely different animal there was no intent to kill anyone but rather just to participate in something known as a Mensur.

The student Mensur is completely foreign to the idea of American doctrinal dueling. The two antagonists are not enemies, and often become close friends after the duel. There is no endeavor to kill one another. And most different of all there is no movement. The only allowed movement is the sword arm itself. The participant is known as Der Herr Paukant. The duel is always between two different fraternities. This is seldom conducted to overcome some slight, but rather to fulfill the requirements the fraternities place on dueling.
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A great piece of trivia on these duels is that this is where dueling scars came from. They were a university phenomenon and not an active-duty deal.
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Short article on these dueling fraternities– http://www.pickelhau...es/Students.htm


and Bob thinks he rambles….

#23 Jack Sheldon

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 02:11 PM

Thanks for that Joe. The whole system sounds to have been barking mad but then, as they say, the past is a different country.

Jack