Youth and Active Military Service

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Johannes Koch, son of a chief station master, grew up in a strict Protestant Prussian home. Like many of his contemporaries, he enthusiastically volunteered as a seventeen-year-old high school student to serve in World War I. he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class near Villeblain on July 24, 1918, a few months before the war’s end. The next day, he wrote his father:

I am now experiencing the war as I wanted to. I am in rags and disheveled, wind and weather and exposed to danger. I see death around me, how it demands its sacrifice, see wounds and destruction. “But my will remains strong and alert in the silence.” ... I see what I professed to be my belief in good days, in better days than these, prove its worth now in hard times.

On leave from the front, Johannes Koch earned his accelerated wartime high school degree in Kleve in October of 1918. He was discharged from the army in Hildesheim on January 21, 1919.

Source / title

  • © Udo Koch-Mehrin