moormann - genealogy

Heinrich & Heinrich 

I put a few queries on a wonderful website, to see if anyone could help me identify anything from the photo below.  In less than a week, I had responses from three people who gave me some great leads, and lots of insight into something I know little about. (See below the picture for some of those comments or click HERE).


Posted by BR on August 22, 2001 at 16:09:07 from /
In Reply to: Help with German uniforms in picture posted by Betty on August 22, 2001 at 06:55:21:

Try posting that photo on the following website:
Those guys are usually pretty good with Imperial Uniforms.


Posted by Pat Braun on August 27, 2001 at 08:40:24 from /

In Reply to: Re: Help with German uniforms in picture posted by Betty on August 22, 2001 at 08:49:07:

Yes these are typical WWI uniforms worn by the German Heer which is similar to the Army. Unfortunately you can't see any insignias/ranks.

But you can tell that the guy standing is wearing a typical "Gefreiter" uniform which is the rank of a private. The man sitting is wearing a officers hat. The rank is minimum a corporal

 ----- Original Message -----
 From: "Bohannon Shawn TSgt 2 BW/HO" <>
 To: <Email: Shadywood>
 Sent: Wednesday, August 22, 2001 12:01 PM
 Subject: Uniforms


 Hi! I saw your photograph posted to your site and  thought I'd comment.  Unfortunately, there's not much to discern from the  photo. They are both in  the Army and both are privates. Can you make out any  numbers on their  shoulder straps in your original? Usually the regimental  number was worn  there. Other than that, they are both wearing pretty  plain uniforms. Despite  the appearance of a "sailor hat" worn by the man  standing, this was the Army  everyday working headgear. The man sitting is wearing  the more formal peaked  cap.

 As a black & white photo, I can't discern the colors worn on the circular hat cockades. Two were worn on Imperial German Army  headgear with the top  one always being the black/white/red colors of Prussia. 

 The lower cockade  displayed the colors of the man's home "state" (Bavaria,  Württemberg,  Saxony, Baden, etc.).

 Shawn M. Bohannon

-----Original Message-----
  Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2001 8:55 AM
  Subject: uniforms


 Thank you for the information.  My aunt has the original, and had a copy made for me.  This was scanned in.  I zoomed in, and was not able to discern anything new.

 Do you know if they would have been drafted, or if the hats mean they were in different outfits (not clothes)  but just were having picture taken?  I thought it was unusual that both were in uniform at the same time. 

 I looked at the wife's visa (translated to English by  someone) that said the wife was living in Oldenburg at  the time (May 1924), and it also said that the 2 children belonged to Prussia!  (As an American, that
 sounded odd).

 Any suggestions  where I should direct my research?  I  am totally new at the German aspect of research, having  focused on the 'easier' stuff here in the U.S.

 I do appreciate your help.


-----Original Message-----

 Until 11 November 1918, Oldenburg was a Grand Duchy ruled by Grand Duke  Friedrich August. On that date, he abdicated his title and Oldenburg was  declared a republic, later being incorporated directly into Germany proper.

 Soldiers from Oldenburg were assigned to their own regiments, wore the  distinctive cockade of the Grand Duchy, but were otherwise assigned to the  Imperial German Army.

 Unfortunately, research into the Imperial German Army, particularly enlisted  soldiers, is very difficult if not impossible. The entire Prussian Army  records were destroyed in 1945 by U.S. bombers when they hit the archives at  Potsdam. There might be some records in Oldenburg (if the two men were even  in the Oldenburg contingent), but it's a very long shot.    

 I took a copy of the photo home last night and carefully compared it to  photos in a huge reference book I have on the Imperial German Army in WWI. I  was able to positively confirm that the man standing is wearing the M1915  field blouse. This field blouse was first introduced to the German Army in September 1915. The man sitting is wearing the M1910/1915 tunic. Again, this  means it was the older M1910 uniform that was simplified in 1915 by removing  some of the buttons and "frills" from the sleeves. All that to say, your photo couldn't possibly have been taken any earlier than September 1915!

 Thus, your target date for the photo is September 1915-November 1918 (end of  the war).

 This is just an assumption on my part, but the man standing has the "look"  of  a combat soldier: he's lean, in a well-worn M1915 field blouse, and is  wearing the field-gray camouflage cloth covering around the band of his hat.  This camouflage cloth covered the band of the hat that was in the colors of the man's branch of service (infantry, artillery, etc.) and explains why we  can't see the lower cockade. 

 An absolute wave of patriotism and nationalism swept over Germany when WWI broke out in August 1914 that led to entire classes of young student  volunteering en masse and older (some very elderly!) men likewise volunteering for service. Again, this is an assumption, but I would surmise  the man sitting simply volunteered for service despite being a bit long in  the tooth for frontline service. He would probably have been assigned to a  rear area job or a post in Germany. Besides, he would already have done his national service and spent time in the reserves when he was younger. I can't say if the younger man was conscripted or volunteered but by the time he was  18 he would have been conscripted anyway! 


-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2001 10:23 AM


This is great information! 

The younger man (my grandfather) was born 1899, which would place him in the 16-19 age range. Definitely an age where he would have been drafted if he hadn't volunteered.

Requests for birth certificates and such have all been met with "the building was bombed" type responses (which is why I'm trying this angle).

What is the reference book you were using?  Is it something I might find in a library? I think your assumptions are probably pretty accurate.

What I understand from my mom/dad (both dead) is that there was a big depression after that war, which lead my grandfather to go ahead to the U.S. to look for work (in 1923/24) The wife and 2 kids followed June 1924.  (That is the age of my daughter that just got married.  I can't see her picking up and moving around the world with 2 kids in tow!) 

You have given me several leads.  I find it just as interesting studying the history surrounding the times as the actual information on the ancestors. 

Again, thanks for your input.


-----Original Message-----

Big depression is right! Immediately following the war, Germany was plunged into absolute chaos with Communist uprisings springing up in Bavaria, Berlin (the Sparticus uprising), and in the Ruhr area. Oldenburg was hit hard with Communists, mutinous sailors and other riff raff declaring various socialist republics at one time or another!  Regular Army troops and ex-servicemen formed various "Freikorps" (Free Corps) units that were used to ruthlessly suppress uprisings throughout the country.  I recall that inflation was so bad, a cup of coffee (acorn coffee at that) cost something like 5 million marks! Indeed, it was in just this sort of chaotic and uncertain environment that led to the birth of the Nazi Party.

The book I have is "Uniforms and Equipment of the Imperial German Army, 1900-1918: A Study in Period Photographs" by Charles Woolley (Schiffer Military Publishing). It a very large book filled with over 500 photos (most of them formal posed photos like the one you have).  It has only limited historical narrative of the history of the Imperial German Army since it's primarily concerned with uniforms and equipment. It still might be worth obtaining from your local library (probably via inter-library loan). 



Last modified: Friday, 29-Oct-2004 10:31:45 MDT

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