Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914-1918: The List Regiment

By John F. Williams | Go to book overview

13

1918

By 1 August the Ypres battlefield was a morass and a day later, according to Tubeuf, the regiment entered trenches in Alsace - an impossible logistical feat given the 300 or so miles that separate the two provinces! On the other hand, Meyer claims, reasonably, that it took a week to effect the transfer to Alsace, the regiment entering a quiet sector near Mülhausen (Mullhouse), on 8 August. Alsace had been part of the German Empire since 1871 and, for the first time in the war, the regiment faced the prospect of fighting on German soil.

We believed ourselves transported to the Garden of Eden after all our privations and the constant contact with death. During this time, our group received a fourteen-day training in information technology. Sadly, the months in the Alsace position flew by all too quickly. For the first time in three years, we were able to enjoy the beauty of summer among a German population. We saw happy, laughing soldiers everywhere. 1

They still had trenches to man, but these were 'broad, comfortable, scarcely damaged, boarded up with palings and protected by roofing-felt, splendidly drained in the midst of an idyllic fruit-garden in an unspoiled area. The French in the opposing trenches [are] hardly noticeable.' The regiment lost just 22 men killed in two and a half months in upper Alsace. Not everyone, however, would recall his time in Alsace fondly, certainly not Adolf Hitler.

I remember, it was before we arrived at Colmar. The railway employee who coveted Foxl came again to our carriage and offered me two hundred marks. 'You could offer me two hundred thousand, and you wouldn't get him!' When I left the train at Harpsheim, I suddenly noticed that the dog had disappeared… I was desperate. The swine who stole my dog doesn't know what he did to me. 2

During their first few days in Mülhausen, the men of the List Regiment still displayed a certain 'nervousness', which, as Meyer suggests, was brought 'from

-178-

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Corporal Hitler and the Great War 1914-1918: The List Regiment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - A University of the Trenches 4
  • 2 - 1913-14: 17
  • 3 - Cannon Fodder 34
  • 4 - West Flanders 1914 50
  • 5 - Winter 1914-15 73
  • 6 - Neuve Chapelle 1915 86
  • 7 - Fromelles 1915 98
  • 8 - Nursery Tales of 1915 114
  • 9 - Hugo Gutmann and the Good Soldier Mend 128
  • 10 - Fromelles 1916 136
  • 11 - Hell on the Somme 147
  • 12 - Declining Fortune 161
  • 13 - 1918 178
  • Epilogue: 198
  • Notes 211
  • Selected Bibliography 226
  • Index 233
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