Story of the Week: Unteroffizier Johann Metzger

This week's story is brought to us by Andrea Metzger-Adolf of Ettlingen Town, whose great-grandfather Johann Metzger served as an Unteroffizier in the Great War.

Johann was born on November 19, 1870 and worked initially as a gardener for Grand Duke Friedrich of Karlsruhe. Shortly before the outbreak of war, he and his wife Elise became the landlords of the "Jagdhaus" inn near the Wilhelmshöhe hotel in Ettlingen.

This photo shows Johann (on the left) and his son Franz in a picture filled with symbolism.

Franz and Johann shake hands, a common gesture between soldiers often found in photos and pictures of the time and symbolizing peace, friendship and cordiality.

In 1914, Germany felt encircled and threatened by France and Russia, who together with England formed the Entente Powers. The war was seen by Germans to a large extent as a defensive war, the highest goal being to protect the Homeland (the "Heimat") from invasion by the enemy.

Women and children symbolized the Homeland. Here we see Johann's wife Elise (Franz's mother) in the background between the two soldiers, holding out her arm to present an object to her son - possibly a lucky charm.

The word "Wiedersehen" as a caption to the photo is ambiguous and has several meanings. On the one hand it is a farewell at a parting, while on the other hand it means "until we meet again".

Johann at the start of the war as a Musketier

The photo on the right shows Johann at the start of the war as a Musketier.
He survived the war and returned home.

Johann died on September 20, 1940.

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