Tuesday, August 16, 2016

100 years ago my grandfather went to prison

August von Schulmann ca 1943
the earliest picture I know of him dates from the late 20s
In August of 1916 my grandfather August von Schulmann was captured at the Battle of Kowel and became a prisoner of war of the Germans for the remainder of the war.    I am not certain where he was held but I seem to remember K├Ânigstein.

For a lot of people 100 years ago seems close to ancient history but to me it is very real for a number of reasons.   First I grew up being told the stories of my grandfather by my father and aunt and second because I come from a family where  for a long time 300 years ago was the recent past.

August was a Czarist cavalry officer.   I deliberately used Czarist because he was not a Russian and he swore no allegiance to Russia   His allegiance was to the Czar.   My family are Baltic Germans, a people that due to the circumstances of history ended up being not very nationalistic and served whomever was in power

My family were Germans that had been under Russian rule since Sweden lost the Great Northern War(1).   We had arrived in Estonia 700 years before World War 1 and five hundred years before the Russians took over Estonia.   At no point did we become Russian even when there was Russification policy from 1887 to 1905.

August was 27 when the war started and because he was in the reserves joined the war when Russia mobilized.   He fought in the battle of Tannenberg and the unit he was part of was one of the only ones to have any success on the Russian side.  

As I think about August I realize that there were many questions I never asked my father about him so my knowledge of his war is more limited than it should be.   I do not know what he did from the fall of 1914 to the early summer of 1916.   When I have some more time I do want to do some more research into my grandfather's war experience.   I do not know what his unit was called I just know the battles he was in from my father  I do not know what ranks he held only that he was an officer.   Based on his rank in the Baltenregiment in 1919-1920 and during World War 2 in the Wehrmacht, I believe he held a junior officers rank.

I am not certain which POW camp his held in.   I was never told about his experience in the camp.  I was told about his experience in Germany after the war ended and before he managed to return to Estonia.   He was released from the POW camp when the war between Germany and Russia was over.  He ended managing the estate of a Prussian noble but which noble and where I do not know.

I know he managed to get back to Estonia by January 1919 because he enlisted in the Baltenregiment, a Baltic German unit of the Estonian army

(1)  In my family "the war" meant the Great Northern War for over two centuries.   I can remember a conversation with my father and my grandfather Patrick von Dellingshausen in 1979 where grandfather said "the war" and it became very quickly clear that he meant the Great Northern War

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