Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

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Normandy_Mike
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Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Normandy_Mike » 31 Jan 2024 22:01

Just came across a story on Facebook about a school project attempting to identify a German soldier who was photographed on a farm in Réthoville, Cotentin peninsula, Normandy.

After several years of trying via social media and newspapers they gave up.

I'm interested now because this is just up the road from me and I'm planning to write about local life during the occupation.

Is it clear from the picture which unit he was from? (I'm clueless on this front).

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Georg_S
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Georg_S » 01 Feb 2024 00:13

Hello and :welcome:

Unfortunately its impossible to match a unit out of this photo. He is an Obergefreiter in the Heer with a Verwundetabzeichen im Schwarz, which means that he have been wounded earlier in the war.

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Georg
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Manuferey
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Manuferey » 01 Feb 2024 19:55

Hello Normandy_Mike,

A-t-on au moins une idée de la date à laquelle a été prise la photo? Cela pourrait peut-être permettre de faire des hypothèses sur l'unité de ce soldat.

Emmanuel

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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Normandy_Mike » 02 Feb 2024 22:55

Georg_S wrote:
01 Feb 2024 00:13
Hello and :welcome:

Unfortunately its impossible to match a unit out of this photo. He is an Obergefreiter in the Heer with a Verwundetabzeichen im Schwarz, which means that he have been wounded earlier in the war.

Best regards
Georg
Thank you so much - even this seems to be more than the school ever found out about him. I'll let them know. Cheers, Mike

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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Normandy_Mike » 02 Feb 2024 23:08

Manuferey wrote:
01 Feb 2024 19:55
Hello Normandy_Mike,

A-t-on au moins une idée de la date à laquelle a été prise la photo? Cela pourrait peut-être permettre de faire des hypothèses sur l'unité de ce soldat.

Emmanuel
Oui, je sais. Ils n'ont pas appris grand-chose sur lui. La photo date de 1941 et les informations la concernant suggèrent qu'il était professeur locale.
https://actu.fr/normandie/camprond_5009 ... 52329.html

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Manuferey
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Manuferey » 03 Feb 2024 09:17

Normandy_Mike wrote:
02 Feb 2024 23:08
Manuferey wrote:
01 Feb 2024 19:55
Hello Normandy_Mike,

A-t-on au moins une idée de la date à laquelle a été prise la photo? Cela pourrait peut-être permettre de faire des hypothèses sur l'unité de ce soldat.

Emmanuel
Oui, je sais. Ils n'ont pas appris grand-chose sur lui. La photo date de 1941 et les informations la concernant suggèrent qu'il était professeur locale.
https://actu.fr/normandie/camprond_5009 ... 52329.html
Oops! I wrote in French. Sorry for the non-speaking French friends of the forum. Here is my question and Mike's response in English:
Emmanuel: do we have an idea at least of when the picture was taken? It could help to make assumptions about this soldier's unit.
Normandy_Mike: Yes, I know. They haven't learned much about him. The picture is dated from 1941 and the information linked to it suggests that he [the soldier] was a professor/teacher (?) there.

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Manuferey
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Manuferey » 03 Feb 2024 09:22

Normandy_Mike wrote:
02 Feb 2024 23:08
La photo date de 1941 et les informations la concernant suggèrent qu'il était professeur locale.
We'll need a month in 1941 to narrow down the unit. The 216 ID was stationed in the Cotentin until May 1941 followed by the 83 ID until the end of that year.

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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Emilie » 04 Feb 2024 18:14

Hello everyone,

A very nice project for these school children. I hope they will find his identity.
We know the photo has been taken in 1941, in the Summer I guess, because of the dress the little girl is wearing. He was about 30 years old and a teacher.

I found a document of which I'll give an extract (page 440) as it fits what is known of him :

"June 1941 - March 1942: a relatively quiet period
In May 1941, only three divisions were stationed in the region. But the German high command quickly filled the gap created in the system of occupation of Lower Normandy.
From the spring, the German army began to create new divisions, relying on the mobilization of wider layers of the German population.
Unlike the first troops to arrive there, these new divisions are characterized by a higher average age of the soldiers.
Many of those involved are fathers, educated people such as teachers, lawyers and other intellectual jobs.
This significant difference in the composition of the new troops is important regarding the relations with the population."

The whole document is here :
https://www.persee.fr/doc/annor_0003-41 ... _0440_0000
I'll be honest, I had no time to read it all and I don't know if it is of interest regarding the search.

Good luck anyway.

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Manuferey
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Manuferey » 05 Feb 2024 18:53

The 83. ID Had arrived in early June 1941 in the Cotentin peninsula.

In June 1941, Réthoville was in the "Ost" (East) sector, under the 251. Infanterie Regiment 251. In July, it became part of the "Nord" (North") sector but still under the 251. ID.

Source: NARA Roll T315-R-1126

Therefore, it's possible that the German soldier belonged to this 251 ID. :idea:

Emmanuel

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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Emilie » 06 Feb 2024 15:28

Manuferey wrote:
05 Feb 2024 18:53
The 83. ID Had arrived in early June 1941 in the Cotentin peninsula.

In June 1941, Réthoville was in the "Ost" (East) sector, under the 251. Infanterie Regiment 251. In July, it became part of the "Nord" (North") sector but still under the 251. ID.

Source: NARA Roll T315-R-1126

Therefore, it's possible that the German soldier belonged to this 251 ID. :idea:

Emmanuel
Hello Manuferey,

I have no clue to which unit he belonged. Hopefully you could be right. At first I thought he was Josef Gangl who took part to the battle of Castle Itter. They really look similar. Here at 5.58 in this video :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ZyPeoDUqk

But a different uniform, a different unit, a different rank. After having reviewed Josef Gangl's career during WW2, I know he was never in the Cotentin.
Anyway, I like the photo. It is very cute. I really hope the children and Normandy_Mike will find out who he was.

Normandy_Mike
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Normandy_Mike » 07 Feb 2024 21:51

Manuferey wrote:
03 Feb 2024 09:22
Normandy_Mike wrote:
02 Feb 2024 23:08
La photo date de 1941 et les informations la concernant suggèrent qu'il était professeur locale.
We'll need a month in 1941 to narrow down the unit. The 216 ID was stationed in the Cotentin until May 1941 followed by the 83 ID until the end of that year.
Thanks - this is helpful. My main research is around the US unit that liberated the town where I live and I haven't begun to look at the German presence.

Normandy_Mike
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Normandy_Mike » 07 Feb 2024 22:03

Emilie wrote:
06 Feb 2024 15:28
Manuferey wrote:
05 Feb 2024 18:53
The 83. ID Had arrived in early June 1941 in the Cotentin peninsula.

In June 1941, Réthoville was in the "Ost" (East) sector, under the 251. Infanterie Regiment 251. In July, it became part of the "Nord" (North") sector but still under the 251. ID.

Source: NARA Roll T315-R-1126

Therefore, it's possible that the German soldier belonged to this 251 ID. :idea:

Emmanuel
Hello Manuferey,

I have no clue to which unit he belonged. Hopefully you could be right. At first I thought he was Josef Gangl who took part to the battle of Castle Itter. They really look similar. Here at 5.58 in this video :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ZyPeoDUqk

But a different uniform, a different unit, a different rank. After having reviewed Josef Gangl's career during WW2, I know he was never in the Cotentin.
Anyway, I like the photo. It is very cute. I really hope the children and Normandy_Mike will find out who he was.
Hi Emilie, that book is remarkable - thank you very much for sharing that. Are you in Normandie? I haven't begun the research of life under occupation yet, but that looks like a good start.

Emilie
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Emilie » 08 Feb 2024 16:02

Hello Mike,

No, I am not in Normandy. I am in a neighbouring region though (Picardie).

I read the German of the photo stayed in the farm from 1941 to 1944 (d-day landings). It's a long time. I would have thought German soldiers never stayed a long time at the same location because they were sent to where they were the most needed. Georg said he was wounded earlier in the war, that might explain why he stayed a long time in Réthoville as he probably was unfit to combat. I also read that he was speaking French very well. Could he have served there as a translator, that's what I am wondering.

That's just a guess. I am aware that nobody here can answer my questions.

Commentator 2
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Commentator 2 » 10 Feb 2024 22:22

try to ID the farm building it seems to not only have a chimmney but is made of Brick!

Emilie
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Re: Identifying a German soldier in occupied France

Post by Emilie » 11 Feb 2024 14:05

Commentator 2 wrote:
10 Feb 2024 22:22
try to ID the farm building it seems to not only have a chimmney but is made of Brick!
Hello commentator 2,

Welcome on board !

In fact the location of the farm is already known. It is in a village called Réthoville. As I had never heard of it before, I checked on the internet and found out that there were only 110 inhabitants in 1946. I also found out that the nearest big town is Cherbourg. I also checked on the internet the distance between Réthoville and Cherbourg : around 25 km (15 miles) in current distances. It might have been a little bit longer at the time. That's why I wonder if the soldier was detached from a regiment or a unit located in Cherbourg. By the way, that's unusual that the farm is made of brick. I would have thought that the architectural style in Lower Normandy was granite.

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