On Jan. 23, 1943, my uncle, Frank Ebner Gartz, (photo in uniform, above) reported to the draft board in Chicago to start his training for WWII. So began the correspondence between him and family & friends, comprising almost 300 letters going both ways. I’m posting many of these World War II letters, each on or near the 70th anniversary of its writing. To start with his induction, click HERE.

This blog began in Nov., 2010, when I posted a century-old love note from Josef Gärtz, my paternal grandfather, to Lisi (Elisabetha) Ebner, my paternal grandmother, and follows their bold decision to strike out for America.

My mom and dad were writers too, recording their lives in diaries and letters from the 1920s-the 1990s. Historical, sweet, joyful, and sad, all that life promises-- and takes away--are recorded here as it happened. It's an ongoing saga of the 20th century. To start at the very beginning, please click HERE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Fallen - Part II

Travel Tuesday

"Names of the Fallen"
Samuel Ebner-2nd from top

Father and Son, both Samuel Ebner
~ 1902-05.  My grandmother, Lisi's,
brother and father.
In the first post in this three-part series about Samuel Ebner,  my grandmother's younger brother, I explained how my two brothers and I discovered this monument to the fallen soldiers in World Wars I and II in the courtyard of my grandmother, Lisi's, home church in Grosspold, Romania. Samuel's name was listed near the top of the World War I "fallen." (See The Fallen-Part I).

We didn't know much about young Samuel (also my great-grandfather's name), but this photograph, at left, always hung in a prominent place in my grandparents' home and now hangs  as part of a 100-photo family history wall extending up the wall along my front stairway.  It's the two Samuels: father and son.   Hand-colored with pastels, the photo was made about 1902-05.

Once I was able to decipher some of the missives my grandmother had saved, I came across a very special one-- this postcard from her brother, Sam, addressed to his father, dated August 19, 1914. Samuel (who must have been nicknamed “Kaspar,” perhaps to avoid confusion with his dad) writes only the briefest of messages:

Dear Parents,

"Dear Parents" The final words received from
Sam Ebner (Jr.) written August 19, 1914
I share with you that we are now in Galicia. Most beautiful greeting to all. Farewell.

Kaspar Ebner

On the right side he’d added: Don’t answer [this letter].

Perhaps he didn't know where he'd be. Perhaps he knew what a terrible battle he was about to enter. The day before young Samuel wrote this card, on August 18, 1914, the Russians had invaded Galicia from the east, in one of the earliest battles of World War I. The Russian army would eventually devastate the Austro-Hungarian Army in which Samuel was soldier. He died during the Battle of Galicia on August 26, 1914, just eight days after penning his last words.

Grosspold Church Family Book entry for  Samuel Ebner (Jr.) the youngest
son of Samuel Ebner and his first wife, Elisabetha Eder/Ebner
 Birth column: 6/16/1893.  Death column: 8/26/1914

His birth and death dates (latter barely legible) were entered into the Family Book from the Evangelische Lutheran church and show he was born June 16, 1893. He was twenty-one when he died.

At some point, my grandmother’s half-brother, Hans, sent her the above postcard, adding this heart-felt note on the address side:

Dear Sister,

I’m sending you here the most valuable thing I’ve ever had--because it is the last writing from our dear brother, Sam--in the hope that you will treasure it as I have.

The fact that I still have this postcard, almost 100 years later, is testimony to the care my grandmother took with this precious last message.

But not only did she save her brother’s memory in this modest missive, she helped make possible the impressive memorial whereon were inscribed her brother’s and his fellow fallen comrades' names.  More on how I discovered this connection in the third part of this series on Samuel Ebner, "the younger." Look for "The Fallen - Part III" next Travel Tuesday.

I look forward to your hearing from you. Please click on the word "comments," centered, below this post and leave me a message.


Sandy Arnone said...

This amazing story made my eyes fill with tears. You have an amazing family and a heritage to be proud of. I keep hoping that you will make it all into a book. It would be a real keeper.

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Kathy Reed said...

I thought I had kept up but obviously missed this post. It is really powerful. I can't imagine your 100-photo family history wall. I've watched too many TV shows on preparing your home to sell. They always advise that you depersonalize and put away the family pictures so potential buyers can visualize themselves in your home. Hope you are not planning to move any time soon.
Hope all is well.