Your family history of World War One
Europeana 1914-1918 is collecting material from across Europe.
Do you have pictures, letters, postcards, souvenirs or other items from 1914-1918 relating to World War One? Do you have a story or anecdote to tell about those involved or affected? Please add it to the online story collection so the world can know about it.
Upcoming Collection Days
Here's where our family history roadshows are being held next:
Bratislava, 29-30 November 2013
The University Library in Bratislava, Univerzitná knižnica Bratislava
Michalská 1, Bratislava
Martin, 13-14 December 2013
The Slovak National Library, Slovenská národná knižnica
Námestie J.C. Hronského 1, Martin
Košice, 6-7 December 2013
The State Research Library in Košice,Štátna vedecká knižnica v Košiciach
Pribinova 3069/1, Košice
Berlin, 30-31 January 2014, 10:00-18:00
Aktionstag, Ausstellung und Konferenz
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin PK, Potsdamer Straße 33, 10785 Berlin
Brugge, Sunday 10 November 2013
Provinciale Bibliotheek Tolhuis
Jan van Eyckplein 1, Brugge
Saturday 14 December 2013
Erfgoedcel Kempens Karakter - Herentals
Sunday 2 March 2014
Kasteel d’Ursel - Bornem
Sunday 23 March 2014
Arboretum Kalmthout - North-Antwerp
To see the 100 venues for roadshows in France go to La Grande Collecte.
Please check out this website regularly for more information and updates.
Click here to visit our virtual exhibition!
‘I have seen foreign people, countries and continents and all this only due to the war’
More than 400 people took part in the recent Europeana 1914-1918 Family History Roadshows between October 12 and 22 in Bonn, Aachen, Bochum and Bremen, Germany. The roadshows collected around 16,000 new digital entries, which will now be added to the online archive. This blog post highlights some of the most interesting stories and objects that came to light.
Michael Neumann, a local from Bonn, always thought that this telescope was just an average souvenir his grandfather fished out of the North Sea back in 1916. However, the story behind it turned out to be much more exciting.
Karl Friedrich Neumann once served as an ordinary seaman and musician in the ship’s band on the SMS Westfalen. As such he took part in the Battle of Jutland, the biggest sea battle of the First World War. The then 18-year-old survived the battle and kept the 19th century telescope as a souvenir. It has remained in the family’s possession ever since. A similar ‘Day-or-Night’ telescope from ‘Dollond London’ is part of the collection at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.View the contribution
Stories from several continents
One of the most interesting objects collected in Bonn was a suitcase once owned by despatch runner, Walter Naumann. In it was a leather bag containing a small compass and a pair of binoculars. The suitcase also contained a series of diaries, photographs and four exactly inscribed photo albums with more than 400 medium format negatives.
Born in 1888 in Bad Düben (Saxonia), Naumann served as a despatch runner in the ‘Königlich-sächsische 6. Infanterieregiment Nr. 105 ‘König Wilhelm II. von Württemberg” and took part in the battles of Verdun and Cambrai. Naumann was a passionate photographer. His field camera is presumably of US American origin, because after finishing school he started an apprenticeship in Grenoble and Atlantic City. His father owned a restaurant and his son Walter would one day take over the business. Although he wanted to settle in Atlantic City, he returned to Germany shortly before the outbreak of the war and spent the entire wartime in service. He died in 1952 in his home town of Bad Düben in Saxonia.View the contribution
A further example of a world-wide journey during wartime was contributed by Manfred Kersten in Bonn. Two photo albums document the stays of his father Walter Kersten in Asia, Australia and Africa.
Walter Kersten was on a business journey in December 1913 on the SMS Leipzig in the Phillipines. In Zamboanga, he visited and took pictures of cigar factories. In the summer of 1914, Kersten wanted to get himself to safety via the German colony of ‘Kiautschou’ in China. When he was in Hong Kong, war broke out and Kersten was interned by the British authorities. As a civil internee, he spent most of the war time at an internment camp - Trial Bay in New South Wales in Australia. As the photographs and documents suggest, a vivid theatre life was established by the internees of the camp. In 1918, the internees were brought to Durban, South-Africa, on the ship ‘Kursk’, a former Russian cruiser now (after the Russian revolution of 1917) under British colours.View the contributionView the contribution
Soldier under Turkish crescent
Hinrich Dietjen was another soldier who experienced the life of a prisoner of war. His son Heinz Detjen contributed the memories of his father to Europeana 1914-1918. Detjen was in service from1914 and took part in the Battle of Tannenberg in August 1914. Yet it was his service in Palestine that left a lasting impression on him. In Palestine, Detjen served as a special drilling commando looking for water which had run short at the front. For his service he was decorated with the Turkish Iron Crescent.
He recalls his experiences in the Middle East in his unpublished manuscript ‘Prisoner of war No. 63583 or German soldiers under Turkish crescent’. The reader gains an impression of him as a man always caring for the people around him. He remembers the English prisoners with honest compassion. ‘There is probably no country where English prisoners have to suffer as much as in Turkey.’ He himself was disgusted by this treatment. ‘From the beginning of the war it has been my highest aim to protect helpless and defenceless prisoners of war.’ He describes his sense of justice with a further example. While on tour with his comrade, he saw a Turkish major treating his subordinate with a truncheon. They took the truncheon and beat up the major, glad to see ‘that he can scream as well as his subordinate’.
The German soldier Detjen eventually became an English POW in camps in Egypt, among them Maadi south of Cairo, where soldiers of Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck’s Africa corps were also interned. In his memories, he describes illnesses such as dysentery and the so-called ‘Black water fever’. They were to become the biggest threats to the lives of prisoners. When he returned home via the camp in Lokstedt in Northern Germany his conclusion of the war was far from bitter. ‘I have experienced the war not only from its bad and unpleasant side but also from the good and pleasant one. I have seen foreign people, countries and continents and all this only due to war.’View the contribution
Orthodox Icons from the Eastern Front
A carton full of war memorabilia came to light at the collection day in Bremen. It contained two small orthodox icons made from wood and a collection of uniform parts from different countries. They belong to the bequest of Gustav Küster, grandfather of contributor Anke Sudingen. According to the family and the postmark, the box was sent home from Güstrow in 1916. Gustav Küster, born in 1870, served in the army as early as the 1890s. He joined the army again in September 1914.
Küster probably served on both the Eastern and Western fronts. There, he collected these items. As well as the icons, the box contained two belt buckles showing a double-headed eagle of Russian origin, a Russian-orthodox crucifix made of brass, several Russian identification tags and an inscribed collection of buttons from Russian, English, Scottish, French and Belgian uniforms. Why and how he collected these items remains unknown. Gustav Küster himself could not report about his war time experiences. After being injured in 1916, he was taken to a military hospital where he died in May 1917.View the contribution
Europeana 1914-1918 in France
The Archives de France, the French National Library, the Mission du Centenaire and Europeana 1914 -1918 are holding Family History Roadshows in France from 9-16 November 2013.
To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, a Europe-wide call has been made to the public to digitise their documents from this period and save them for future generations.
The collection days will take place in 70 locations across France, two-thirds of which are linked to Departmental Archives. The roadshows are part of Europeana 1914-1918 and will help to create a unique pan-European archive of personal stories from the First World War.
Everyone with documents from the First World War such as diaries, notebooks, letters, photographs, leaflets and posters is urged to come to a roadshow to share their story and have their documents digitised. Visitors will be welcomed by experts who will identify and photograph the documents, and collect the individual family stories relating to them. The documents will then be returned to contributors, who can also choose to donate them to the institution if they wish.
Some documents such as posters and postcards tell a collective story through their imagery, while others are more personal, but all provide direct testimony from the daily lives of soldiers and civilians.
These family documents and stories provide different perspectives of the First World War and each is essential to creating this unique pan–European archive. They will sit with stories from countries across Europe to be shared online, accessed by others worldwide and saved for future generations.
A full list of places and dates is available on the Mission du Centenaire website:www.centenaire.org