Recently I have been looking through some library books on the First World War. One I happened to come across, Atlas of the First World War by Martin Gilbert, has some maps of interest. There is some detailed background on the Zeppelin airship L.59, which was sent to Africa with a mountain of supplies for von Lettow-Vorbeck, leader of a ragtag band of men in East Africa. Sadly, long after the mission to Africa, this mighty aircraft went down, probably in the Adriatic, and every one of the crew with it.
Ever since reading a brief write-up on him and the campaign in a Reader’s Digest book (Facts & Fallacies: Stories of the Strange and Unusual), I’ve been hooked. It’d make a great movie and I’d love to direct it, on location in Africa. From my copy I also learned about Sławomir Rawicz and his book The Long Walk, which would also make a terrific film, and one I’d love to do mostly on location in Poland, Russia, the Gobi Desert, Tibet and finally India.
Now returning to Gilbert’s Atlas, there are many maps I’d like to note. Of course, Hitler always brings a fair amount of attention, even well into the 21st century. I’ve never known much about his service during WWI, other than that he had a funny-looking mustache and was a corporal, but Gilbert dedicates a page in his book to tracking him during this period.
Young Hitler was in at least five major battles including the infamous Somme, and was repeatedly wounded. He spent time at the Pasewalk Military Hospital in Pomerania (the region where some of my ancestors lived) and at the Beelitz Military Hospital in Berlin. At Pasewalk Hitler recovered from a British gas attack and while there was apparently declared a psychopath by one of the doctors. At the end of war he was on guard duty at the Traunstein POW Camp in Bavaria keeping an eye on Russian prisoners.
Pasewalk isn’t too far from Szczecin (Stettin), where a few relatives lived in the 1930s and 40s. What happened to them during and at the end of World War II, I don’t know. Hopefully they avoided the Soviets and the resulting occupation of Poland. I am sure they either left or were forcibly expelled, as was most of the remaining German population in areas beyond the Oder River. They likely ended up being relocated to places within Germany proper, as we know it today.
During my research on the military hospitals I came across this site with several images: ‘Postcards from the Great War’. I also happened on this site about Hitler as a younger man and his connection to Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front, which is another among the books I’ve been reading.
Awhile back I watched the 1930 film on DVD with Lew Ayres, who I first saw in the original Battlestar Galatica pilot movie. I liked the movie, but like the book even better. Some of the scenes in the book are just too grotesque and horrific to really capture on film. Remarque has a remarkable innocence to his writing and displays a sad honesty. He portrays what my great uncle occasionally, yet briefly mentioned in his letters from France, although he never went into any detail. I cringe at the idea of watching the 1979 remake with Richard Thomas and Ernest Borgnine.
Tomorrow I will be writing about some of the genetics books I have recently discovered.