This is the Deathcard of Franz Köpf, Franz was a 29 year old, from Dettenhausen (Upper Bavaria). Franz seen in his photo on the Deathcard is a Soldat in the Heer. His rank and unit he was a part of are unknown as the Deathcard does not state nor does the photo show us any information of this. The Deathcard is in a 'Book' format seen accompanied here with cross, this type of cross would be a personal cross carried by and individual.
The deathcard of Franz Köpf tells us his occupation, it details he was a "Bauernsohn". This translates to Farmers Son, this being Franz's occupation before the war, it also details that he is a "Kriegsteilnehmer". This translates to "A Krieger" or "Combatant" . This referring to him being a veteran of WW2 . This is due to death of Franz Köpf unfortunately dying post war and the Deathcard being issued in 1948. Acknowledging his unfortunate demise but not mentioning in the same detail as a wartime Deathcard.
The Deathcard in German reads as:
Zur Frommen Erinnerung Im Gebete
an useren innigstgeliebten, unergeßichen
Sohn und Bruder
Bauerssohn und Kriegsteilnehmer
Geb, am 20 Mai 1919 in Deutenhausen
tödich verunglückt in russ: Gefangenschaft
in einem Kohlenbergwerk b, Lutsch (Stalino)
Ende Juni 1948
Fort warst Du von uns, wohl fast zehn Jahr,
Das war eine lange zeit
Wo du Sländig warest noch in Gefahr,
Wo Tod winkte, weit und breit,
Fast 6 Jahre Kreig; keine Kugel kam Dir an,
Das gab Dir nich veil zu denken
Denn Du stelltest Dich als Mann,
Und Gott tat wohl Deie Schritte lenken
Dann ging es leider in die Gefangenschaft;
Da Brauchtesl Du schon Mut.
Schaffen bis die Hand erschlafft,
Essen Wenig und sonst nicht gut
ein bitterer Kelch tat Dir da winken.
Du Mußtest ihnbis zur Neige trinken
Als guter Arbeiter wolltest Du Dich dann [bewähr'n;
Man sagle, die düfen bald zurückkehr'n
Doch kurz bevor Dir das nun glückte,
Im Bergwerk ein Stein Dich zu Tode rückte.
Statt, Daß Du Konntest heimwärts ziehn
Trug man Dich zu Grabe hin.
Vergebens war nun all unser Hoffen,
Die Botschaft hat uns schwer getroffen
The reverse reads as (Left side):
wir sind ja alle ganz erwarre,
Mit Dir haben wir vieles verloren
Wir hätten Dich doch so notwendig gebraucht,
Indessen hast Du schon Deine Seele aus-Gehaucht
Seit Jahren schon schriebst Du auf Wieder-sehn
Des Herrn Wille, ist nun geschehn.
Heimkehrer haben uns das geschriaben,
Die Dir in treuer Kameradschaft verblieben;
Denen bist Du wohl Alles gewesen,
Wie wir aus ihren Briefen konnten lesen.
Süßes Herz Mariä, sei meine
Rettung! (300 Tage Alaß)
Süßes Herz Jesu, Sei meine Liebe
(300 Tage Alaß)
Gütiger Herr Jesu,
ich vertraue auf dich!
(100 Tage Ablaß)
Mein Jesus Barmhezigkeit!
Vater unser ...
Right side reads:
Nun ruhe Du sanft, Du lieber Guter,
O braver Sohn, geliebter Bruder.
Wir konnten Dich nicht sterbe sehn
Und nicht an Deinem Grabe stehn
Die Scheidestunde schlug zu früh,
Doch Gott der Herr, bestimmte sie.
Nun hoffen wir daß Du auch bist droben,
Wo ja scon Mutter und Brudersind oben.
The English translation reads as:
For Pious Remembrance
In prayer to our dearly beloved,
energetic son and brother
Bakers Son and War Participant
Born on May 20, 1919 in Deutenhausen
fatally injured in Russian: Captivity in a coal mine b, Lutsch (Stalino)
Late June 1948
You were gone from us, probably almost ten years,
That was a long time
Where you were still in danger
Where death beckoned far and wide
Almost 6 years at War; you didn't get a bullet,
That didn't give you much to think about
Because you presented yourself as a man
And God did well to direct the steps
Then unfortunately it went into captivity;
Since you need courage.
Create until the hand slacks
Eat little and otherwise not good
a bitter goblet waved to you.
You had to drink it to the end
As a good worker you wanted to [prove yourself;
Say they'll be back soon
But just before you succeeded
In the mine a stone put you to death.
Instead of that you could go home
You were carried to the grave.
All our hopes were in vain
The message hit us hard
English Left and right side Reverse;
We are all very beside oneselves
We lost a lot with you
We would have needed you so much
In the meantime you have already breathed out your soul
You have been writing goodbye for years
The Lord's will has now happened.
Homecomers wrote to us that
Who remained with you in loyal comradeship;
You have been everything to them
As we could read from their letters.
Sweet heart Mary, be mine
Rescue! (300 days ales)
Sweet heart of Jesus, be my love
(300 days ales)
Good Lord Jesus,
I trust you!
(100 days indulgence)
My Jesus Mercy!
Our father ...
Now rest gently, you dear friend,
O good son, beloved brother.
We couldn't see you die
And don't stand by your grave
The hour of parting struck too early
But the Lord God determined them.
Now we hope that you are up there too,
Where's mother and brother upstairs.
The Deathcard tells us information about Franz Köpf before the war and the unfortunate circumstances in which he found himself in up until his death in June 148. Seen translated, like most Deathcards a brief description of the individual under their photo. Franz Köpf seen mentioned as a Son and Brother, this shows the family he unfortunately left behind. The Deathcard also details to us his occupation and a brief mention of his life. Before it tells us where he unfortunately died. Franz Köpf died in "Kohlenbergwerk b" - this translates to Coal Mine B, in Lutsch, Stalino. Stalino is modern day Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine. Franz Köpf unfortunately died here in 1948. The extract seen on the right details more of his unnecessary and upsetting death.
The extract seen opposite the photo of Franz details not a religious extract but a meaningful passage of his life and the family's description of their beloved Franz. This is seen with the mention of how Franz was away for almost 10 years, and fighting for 6 of those years, a long time mentioned and the danger he still faced. This referring to the start of World War 2 in 1939, and his imprisonment by soviet forces at the late war/end of the war and till death in 1948. They mention the brutality of the Second World War and how death was everywhere, the luck that he was not hit by a bullet in that amount of time, they thank god and show that he had it in his plans to survive. However the next part is much depressing as it details his unfortunate imprisonment by the cruel soviet forces. With this it describes the cruelty, hardships and poor conditions Franz Köpf and many other POWs faced. It talks of the hard labour he faced;
"Create until the hand slacks Eat little and otherwise not good, a bitter goblet waved to you. You had to drink it to the end As a good worker you wanted to [prove yourself - Say they'll be back soon , But just before you succeeded, In the mine a stone put you to death. Instead of that you could go home, You were carried to the grave".
This passage showing the upsetting and unnecessary demise of Franz Köpf. Mentioning that he was in a Coal mine in Stalino to the accident that lead to his death. A stone falling on him whilst he was put to work as a form of hard labour. His family also details their mourning of his unfortunate death as they use the words "Instead of that you could go home, You were carried to the Grave" - This showing their sadness that he was not allowed to come home and the only way he came home was when he died. They mention this further with "All our hopes were in vain , The message hit us hard". Their hopes of their beloved Son and brother coming home were destroyed as the cruelty of the soviets and the forced labour lead to his unnecessary death.
The reverse details more of the life and character of Franz Köpf, this in a much more comforting message that they mention "Homecomers wrote to us that, Who remained with you in loyal comradeship;
You have been everything to them As we could read from their letters". This shows the character Franz was, even in the depressing and hard times he and fellow Soldaten were in at the NKVD Camo at Lutsch, Stalino. It details that the fortunate POWs that made it home (Homecomers) wrote to the family of Franz Köpf and they detailed the Loyalty and Comradeship he showed. These letter the family say they read and gain comfort that Franz was in comfort of great friends and gave them morale in his time till his unfortunate death. After this the family says a prayer to Mary and Jesus before they sign it off with sorrow that they couldn't be there with him to see him die , or visit his grave whilst mentioning that he died too soon. They mention he can now be at peace with his Mother and Brother. This meaning that the farther could be the likely sole survivor of the family at home. A very sad situation for the Köpf family.
This Deathcard serves not only a reminder of Franz Köpf's death, but it details the sad and unnecessary demise of the young Soldat. Surviving the war and the war being over, he found himself still in the rough conditions 3 years after the war ended. He should have been sent home to be with his family, the war was over and he should have been able to rejoice as his service was over. However the cruelty and poor conditions of life as a Soviet POW in a NKVD camp lead to the young life of Franz Köpf to be taken to soon, at the end of June 1948. Some 500,000 German POWs were suggested to be imprisoned in Camps across the USSR in 1948.
The family holding on to this Deathcard as it is the closet they get to their Son and Brother who died in Stalino. How Franz died could be speculated as the conditions in which he was in would have indefinitely played a large role in his livelihood as a POW until his death.
This Deathcard in the collection shows the cruelty of the Soviets and the disregard for human life as the conditions in which POWs were in. Franz being one of many who had served their time fighting in the Second World War and as a Prisoner of War, should have been sent home to be reunited with his family. This is shared in Memory of the Young Franz Köpf and to share his story, although it is a sad one, serves as a reminder of the cruelty and unnecessary death of POWs even after the war. It is suggested some 1 million German POWs were killed in NKVD Camps.
† May He Rest In Piece - A part of the Deathcard series at KB41Collection †