Stuttgart
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The capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg: in 1914 the city of Stuttgart appears less dynamic than might the imperial capital of Berlin, but that’s only a superficial impression.  Outside Stuttgart’s center the Mercedes car is being built in ever greater numbers.  To the south, Count Zeppelin is busy with advanced designs for his airships.  In the technical schools and universities of Württemberg, scientists are being trained in the technologies that will transform the world of the twentieth century. The Schwabian people, native to the Kingdom, are meticulous and highly industrious craftsmen who have helped build Germany’s world-wide reputation for innovation and the superb quality of their workmanship. Independent and none too admiring of the Prussians who dominate the direction of the German Empire, the Württembergers cherish their rich culture and charmingly eccentric customs.  The Schwabians are sustained through the complex tensions that exist between themselves and the Prussians by a sense of humor that’s widely enjoyed among Germans everywhere.

In this photograph of the “Prinzenplatz”, the large equestrian sculpture represents the Austrian Field Marshal, Prince Schwarzenberg, mastermind of Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig.  Very few, if any, Prussians are memorialized in Württemberg. Of note in the photograph is the Michelin tire poster painted on the south wall of the center building.  It was designed by Ludwig Hohlwein in 1913.

Stuttgart Prinzenplatz  2

On the south side of the Prinzenplatz stands the Royal Württemberg Ministry of War. While the layout represents a quiet Sunday evening, the 28th of June in 1914 is no ordinary Sunday.  The photograph shows a member of the German Imperial General Staff leaving the War Ministry to be taken to the railway station where he will begin the journey to Berlin. When news of the assassination at Sarajevo that morning reached him at his family home in Stuttgart, the General hastened to the Ministry where he spoke by telephone with his Austrian counterparts in Vienna, determining that a suitable response to the murder by the Austro-Hungarian government could be expected soon.  In those early hours of the crisis, there was no thought of even so much as a Europe-wide war - least of all a world-war - as a consequence of the assassination.

Stuttgart Kriegsministerium

 

The black-and-red flag is that of Württemberg. The sentry box beside the entrance to the Ministry is painted in the national colors as were such soldiers’ shelters in all of the constituent kingdoms of the German Empire.

War Ministry

Across the Prinzenplatz , with three friends, stands the proprietor of the military tailor’s shop seen on the ground floor of the center building in the first photograph.  The gentleman’s name is Hermann Schönfeld, a leader of Stuttgart’s Jewish community and the grandson of the founder of the highly respected bespoke tailoring company. For more than three generations the Schönfelds have supplied uniforms and first-quality military appointments to officers of the German army, particularly those serving in the regiments of Württemberg. The scarlet tunic visible in the show window would be worn by an officer of the Body-Guard Hussars garrisoned at Potsdam.  The present King of Württemberg served with that regiment as a young man and the present Herr Schönfeld made that “attila”, or hussar tunic, as a demonstration of his skill, hussar officers’ uniforms being exceptionally demanding in the intricate details of their decorative embroidery. The attila attests to the Schönfeld family’s reputation and integrity that led to their royal warrant of appointment to the court at Stuttgart, granted in 1876. It can truly be said that Herr Schönfeld, like his father and grandfather, is the most respected tailor in the kingdom, enjoying a deserved prosperity. His name – Hermann – quintessentially German, is testimony to his family’s patriotic identification with the German people and their culture.

Die Juden in Stuttgart

 

The men with Herr Schönfeld are Hassidic Jews who enjoy a spirited discourse with him in the square on Sundays.  The four engage in Talmudic argument, thus putting to good use the leisure imposed upon them by the Christian laws forbidding commerce on Sunday.  Fingering his moustache, the police officer to their left in the photograph is invariably puzzled by the passionate nature of the weekly discussions he observes. Understanding not a word of Hebrew, those heated exchanges leave him suspicious simply because “these Jews” know and understand things he doesn’t. While, like all Stuttgarters, the policeman stands in awe of Herr Schönfeld’s reputation and the deservedly high prices he earns for his services, this dull-witted little officer of the law will, almost inevitably, become an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazis. Of the four men, two of the Hassidics will emigrate to Brooklyn in 1934, the third will perish at Treblinka. The entire Schönfeld family will be taken to the concentration camp at Dachau, 199 kilometers from Prinzenplatz, where Hermann will die, aged 78, of tuberculosis.  His wife, Liselotte, and her sister will be liberated by American troops in April of 1945.  The two ladies will end their days on Long Island.

Schoenfeld Schneiderei

Schulerstrasse 14

Gerhard Doberich is a successful lawyer, advancing well in a respected Stuttgart firm.  We see him here talking with Bettina Walderstaedt, his fiancée of more than a year. Preparations are well advanced for their wedding on the second Saturday in August.  Herr Doberich is also a reserve captain in the recently formed machine-gun section of his infantry regiment garrisoned in Ludwigsburg. Their wedding will be postponed on the second of August.  At Christmas of 1915 the captain will be given a one week leave to return to Stuttgart to marry Bettina and then to report for service with the Austro-Hungarian army on the front in northern Italy where Gerhard will receive severe wounds at Izonzo during the offensive of 1917.  He will be released from hospital, discharged from the army and sent home in March of 1918 having lost an eye, an arm and much of the left side of his face.  His experiences in the war will cause him to become morose and withdrawn which, together with his ghastly appearance, will place an insupportable strain on his marriage. Childless, Bettina will abandon him in 1921.

In happier times, they admire once more the glorious weather of this evening in late June of 1914, recalling the two rare birds that delighted them during their afternoon walk.  In a few minutes, blissfully happy, the lovers will stroll to dinner at Penzler in Prinzenplatz.

Gerhard and Bettina

penzler

Berg Kirche Platz

 

Eduard Paulus, the Younger, was a Schwabian poet, feuilletoniste, author and archeologist beloved by his fellow Wuerttembergers for his incisive wit and unrelenting disapproval of the “Triumphalism” typified by the brash and bombastic behavior of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Paulus disliked the other Prussians as well for their oppressive presence throughout the German Empire, particularly in Wuerttemberg.

Specializing in excavations of Celtic settlements, Herr Paulus is memorialized by this sculpture that shows him carrying the umbrella he always had with him. We have Herr Preiser and Company to thank both for the “sculpture” and for the pigeon settled on his hat.  The fencing is one of Herr Weinert’s remarkable achievements.

Eduard  Paulus sculpture

Postamt

Azo

The “Sarajevo 1914 Collection”, begun in 1979, has been and continues to be assembled
in partnership with Ingrid Bitter, Director MC W. Schueler, Stuttgart

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