German military historian and blogger, Rob Schaefer, maintains one of the most fascinating military history blogs on the Net: Gott Mit Uns. He recently uncovered a VHS tape of a 1980s German television programme about Verdun; a programme unknown here in the UK and largely forgotten in Germany. It contains several interviews with German WW1 veterans of the battle at the age I remember most of ‘my’ veterans here in the UK; animated and vivid in their descriptions of the war.
The German side of the war has long fascinated English-language students of the conflict. I remember meeting German WW1 author Herbert Sulzbach in the 1980s, and being amazed to hear a voice from the other side of No Man’s Land. Of course I later read the works of Ernst Jünger and was lucky to get copies of Der Angriff, an American publication from the 80s translating German accounts of the trenches. In recent years work by authors like Jack Sheldon has highlighted much of what we did not know about the German side of the war, but I well remember from my own visits to German archives in the late 1980s that there is still much to uncover.
And this is where Rob Schaefer’s excellent work excels: the web is the perfect place to share this new material and excellent place for historical collaboration. Finding a resource like these 1980s television interviews gives us an insight into what, potentially, the WW1 Centenary might achieve: a greater dissemination of Great War resources and an increased understanding.
The interview above, which Rob kindly made specially available for this site, features Wilhelm Ritter von Schramm. Rob states:- He was born 20th April 1898 in Hersbruck; died 27th December 1983. Joined the Army as an ensign in 1915. Knighted when awarded the Military Order of Max Joseph in 1917 (only awarded 251 times). Severely wounded by Shrapnel in October 1918. In WW2 he was serving in the OKW and from September 1944 was responsible for compiling the “Wehrmachtsbericht”.
More interviews are available on Gott Mit Uns.