World War One Was Exciting!
When Willy was 14 and finished with school he started his three year blacksmith apprenticeship with his father. It was 1914 and World War One had just started. He thought it was exciting and wanted to be a part of the Great War, but he was too young. He also started writing in his teen journal where he gave a first hand narrative of what was happening at the home-front during the Great War.
Well into the Great War and still in his apprenticeship, Willy wrote in his journal:
January 1, 1917: Time passed and Christmas came. It was not merry because everyone’s thoughts were with their loved ones at the front. At the New Year, young men and young girls were at the bell tower having glasses of schnapps and ringing the bells, which were so loud in the silence of New Year’s night that you could hardly hear yourself think. We forgot about war for a moment.
At midnight, everyone shook hands, congratulated each other, yelled into each other’s ears and made even more noise. Those who were not ringing got up to all sorts of jokes and pranks, and to top it off, Mr. Kirchhof appeared in the frock and cap of the pastor. It gave me a real fright until I realized what was going on. Now the bottle appeared again. I was just taking another swig when someone said something that made me laugh, and the stuff went up my nose and ended up on the floor. At one o’clock, with more good wishes for the New Year, everyone dispersed.
World War One caused struggles at home and Willy’s teen journal describes his wisdom:
I have now stepped over the threshold of the New Year. Time rushes on relentlessly. Nothing can stop it and only the enjoyment of the moment lets us slow it down a little. What will the New Year bring me? Will this great war end or, if not, will I also have to put on the uniform? Will I even live to see the next New Year? What will happen? What awaits me?
I suppose at the start of a new year everyone would like to lift the veil of the future. But those are human thoughts. It has to be taken as it comes. It can’t be worse than the last year. But I don’t care. The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken, praise and thanks be to the Lord. And so I enter the New Year hoping for the best. When I am a year older, I will know everything that happened in this brutal war. Happy New Year!
Willy was 16 1/2!
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