‘My dear parents, I have been sentenced to death...’ A World War I tragedy

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My Dear Parents,


I have been sentenced to death today, September 11 1917. Only myself and another comrade; the others have been let off with 15 years’ imprisonment. You will have heard why this has happened to me. I am a sacrifice of the longing for peace, others are going to follow. I cannot stop it now, it is six o’clock in the morning, I am being taken to Cologne at 6.30, and on Wednesday September 12 at nine o’clock in the morning I am going to be sacrificed to military justice. I would have liked to press your hands once more to say goodbye, but I will do it silently. Console Paula and my little Fritz. I don’t like dying so young,  but I will die with a curse on the German militarist state. These are my last words. I hope that some day you and mother will be able to read them.


Always Your Son, 


Albin Köbis



The day after he wrote this letter, Köbis, a 25-year-old stoker aboard the German Imperial Navy’s battleship SMS Prinzregent Luitpold, and a fellow rebel, Max Reichpietsch, were marched before a 20-man firing-squad of sailors at the Wahr military firing range in Cologne. They were tied to posts, blindfolded and executed, in a brutal climax to a dispute that had been ignited by swedes: the large, yellow-fleshed, bland-tasting root vegetables normally used as pig fodder.

Both had been found guilty of “treasonable incitement to rebellion”. But it was the swedes that began it...




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