A German soldier’s life behind WWI lines

Saturday June 28th marks 100 years since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo which sparked World War I. We mark the anniversary by showing rare photos from a German soldier of everyday life behind the front lines.

A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Photo: Europeana 1914 -

Walter Naumann from Leipzig was sent to the Western Front in 1914 with the 105 King Wilhelm II infantry regiment of the Royal Saxony Army.

He was an amateur photographer and had worked in hotels in London, Paris, Grenoble and Atlantic City before the war.

His father owned a restaurant in Bad Düben, north of Leipzig, but Naumann was a keen photographer and his pictures give a rare glimpse of an ordinary soldier’s life 100 years ago away from the fighting.

He served in Belgium and France from 1914 to 1918.

CLICK HERE to see some of Naumann's photos

After the war he returned to Leipzig and went on to work in restaurants across Germany and died in 1952.

The hundreds of photos stayed in a trunk with his family, but have been published thanks to an EU-funded online project called Europeana which is gathering archive photos and documents about World War One from across the globe.

The Local first published a small section of of his photos in February.

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German ambassador to Turkey left out in cold

The Turkish government has been giving German ambassador Martin Erdmann the cold shoulder for weeks, after German parliamentarians passed a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide.

German ambassador to Turkey left out in cold
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: DPA

At the beginning of June the Bundestag (German parliament) passed the resolution describing the death of over a million Armenians in 1915-16 as genocide by an overwhelming majority.

Ankara argues that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers.

Turkey could barely hide its fury at the vote and immediately recalled its ambassador in Berlin. Shortly after, the Turkish government announced an “action plan” on how to react to the resolution.

Since then Ambassador Erdmann has not been offered a single appointment with the foreign ministry in Ankara or in other parts of the government. His requests for meetings have also gone unanswered.

Lower ranking diplomats have occasionally been offered meetings, but each one needs to be personally approved by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

Since the vote, the Turkish government has also refused a senior civil servant in the defence ministry permission to visit German military personnel at Incirlik air base, where they are part of the coalition against Isis.

Relations between Berlin and Ankara are extremely sensitive at the current time. A crude poem written by a German comedian, deliberately insulting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, led to demands from Ankara that the German government take action.

Germany is bound to Ankara by a controversial deal on refugees whereby Turkey has agreed to take back asylum seekers who travel over the Aegean into the EU.

And tensions are currently high among Germany’s 3 million-strong ethnic Turkish population after a coup attempt failed in Ankara earlier in July.

On social media, vicious accusations and counter-accusations have been thrown around among Turkish Germans over alleged sympathies for the plotters.

The government in Berlin is watching with concern, fearing that trouble could spill out onto the streets of German cities.