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 Dated:  August 25, 2009

Memorial Cards of German Soldiers
Who died in Italy

     The following are a few examples of  "Death Cards" that were printed in memory of German soldiers killed in combat.   Many religious faiths have a tradition similar to this, even in civilian life.  Most German military "Death Cards" are small cards about 4 X 2 inch, printed on both sides.  Usually one side will have a photo of the deceased in uniform along with info about him.  The reverse side may have a traditional memorial scene or a grave site scene and may include a poem.   Some do not have photos; a few will have a religious scene or message.  Some Death Cards are printed on bi-fold card for a total of 4 pages.
     For security reasons, the identity of the soldier's unit was omitted.  In most cases, the place of death was also omitted.  This type of information might allow their enemy to determine the strength or losses of the German units.  The examples I've selected were of interest to me because these men served in Italy and could have fought against my Dad. .

   This page contains Death Cards for the following individuals who died in Italy:

   The "Death Card" of Pvt. Franz Dullinger is a typical example of a death card.  It is printed on a small 4-1/2 X 2-3/4 inch paper, front and back, with a small photo on the front and a religious symbol on the reverse.  This example was selected because he was a radio operator in an Artillery Regiment.  His job may have been similar to my Dad's; i.e. he probably operated the radio to direct artillery fire.   He was a decorated soldier who was killed in action on September 5, 1944, during the heavy fighting at the Gothic Line.  Private Dullinger is the oldest soldier shown on this page.  He was buried in Pomezia, Block 23, Grave 20.
{ Translation of Front side }
  Prayer Rememberance of 
   Franz Dullinger
Written by Imming, Parish Horbering 
Private First Class
in the Artillery Regiment
Bearer the Iron Cross 2nd Class
That on 5 September 1944 in Italy 
At the age of 31 Years.

You have fought with the enemy
under the highest tension of the battle.
But now, you suffer nevermore,
being redeemed by the hero's death.
You eyes are closed for eternal rest,
your restless hands are quiet now,
extinguished is your meek view,
your life was of short fortune.  
Your dearest ones are crying,
untold is all their pain,
cause your lovely, caring heart
doesn't beat for them no more.

{ Translation of Back }

{ Grave Marker }
   Private First Class
Franz Dullinger
 5 Sept 1944
31 Years of age
{Traditional Religious symbol grave marker. }

{Translation of Poem }

  Dear husband, dad, son and brother  !
  How severely we're suffering.
  But you live near us by the spirit,
  until once we'll meet again !

  Photo shows him dressed in an Army uniform and an M-43 cap, with the chevron rank of a Private First Class.  Also on his left sleeve, he wears a specialty patch of a lightning bolt designating a radio operator.  In the button hole of his tunic is the ribbon for his Iron Cross 2nd Class.
Radio Operator sleeve patch

     This "Death Card" of Lt. Karl Reuss is not exactly typical as it does not have a photo and is printed on one side on plain paper.  The fold in the paper is noticeable.  I obtained this one because he was German artillery officer in Italy and he was killed in May of 1944, when my Dad first entered combat.  This 24-year old Officer earned the Iron Cross 1st Class and 2nd Class, and a wound medal, as  well as a campaign medal for fighting in Russia.  He definately had combat experience.  It would be interesting to know the identify of his unit and exactly where in Italy he served in relation to where my Dad was located.  He was buried in Pomezia, Block Q, Grave 398.
{Translation follows image}
Artillery Officer's Death Card
                                                                       { Poem in Old German} 
                                                                       The unavoidable fate of death presses us down,
only the hope of coming resurrection lifts us up.
For the ones, who believe in you, oh Lord,
life can never be robbed,  it will be only

           A soldier's life suffered a hero's death of our son, brother, 
                nephew and cousin on 30 May 1944 in Italy.

Karl Bernhard Reuss
First lieutenant and battery commander
Owner of the Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd Class, Eastern Front and Wound medal

    at the age of 24 years of its coronation

   Munich, in August 1944
   Herzogstr, 58/III 
   presently at Oberaudorf, Hotel Brunstein

                           Major retired, upper government advice Wilhelm Reuss 
                          and Mrs. Bernardine, maiden name Bergman 
                          Wilhelm Reuss, Chaplain, presently in the armed forces

        The hero's service takes place on Wednesday, 23 of August 1944,  at 8 Ur in Oberaudorf.

Franz Rauch was a member of the Mountain Division.  There were several German mountain regiments and a mountain corps in Italy.  The American mountain troops finally saw combat when the US 10th Mountain Division arrived in February 1945.   Franz Rauch held the rank of Stabsgefreiter in a mountain regiment.  His experience included the campaigns in Poland, France, Greece, Russia, and Italy.  He was the holder of many awards.  He was killed in action on March 9, 1944, at age 28, near Alvito, Italy.  Cemetery records indicate his date of death is off by 3 weeks and he was buried in Pomezia, Block D, Grave 439.
{ Translation of Front side }
Christian Prayer of  Rememberance
our son and brother 

   Franz Rauch
Stabsgefreiter in a mountain regiment.  Campaigns in Poland, France, Greece, Russia, and Italy.  He was the holder of many awards.  He was killed in action on March 9, 1944 near Alvito, Italy, Age 28.
{ Translation of Back side }

{Statue of Jesus praying for a kneeling soldier.}

  Photo shows the deceased dressed in an Army uniform
  and an M-43 cap.

 Unterofficer Siegfried Ebner  was a member of the Luftwaffee Field Division, which was an infantry unit that was part of the air force.  He died on 27 June 1944, during the difficult campaign in Italy, after 1 ½ years faithful soldierly duty.  Age; 19 years, 8 months. (Cemetery records show that his date of death was January 27.)  This card is different in that his photo is on the back.  His death occurred soon after the Allies captured Rome.
   During June and July, the Germans fought a delaying action to hold back the advance of the US 5th Army and the British 8th Armies, so the Germans could fall back to their next defensive position on the Arno River.  One source says the 19th Luftwaffe Field Division took a stand at Cecina, just north of Rome on the western coast, and fought until their unit was killed or captured.
See a description of the Luftwaffee Field Division at Luftwaffe Ground Troops.There are two soldiers of the same name, rank and age who are buried at Cassino.
{ Translation of Front side }
  Memorial Prayers of
our loving, incomparable son and brother
 Siegfried Ebner
Luftwaffee Field Division
Died on 27 June 1944, during the difficult campaign in Italy, after 1 ½ years faithful soldierly duty.  Age; 19 years, 8 months. 
{Large Photo on back}
 {Unusual for photo to fill one side of the card}

  Photo shows him dressed in an Army uniform with the white trim on the collar and epaulets, signifying the rank of a non-commissioned officer.  Officers and NCO for the Luftwaffe Field Division came from the Army.  That is probably why he is wearing an Army uniform even though he was assigned to a Luftwaffe unit.

See  Luftwaffe Ground Troops.

Obergefreiter Johann Rötzer served in a Grenadier Regiment as an infantryman--I thought it was time I included a regular soldier.   His decorations included the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Eastern service medal, the Wound Badge, and the Infantry Assault Badge.  He was born on 1 August 1915 and heroically died for the fatherland on March 23, 1944 at age 28.  The card states that he died in "Italy (Velledei)".  I'm not sure if that is a town or not.  There is a town of similar name just south of Rome.  He was buried in Pomezia, Block J, Grave 420.
{ Translation of Front side }
  Prayer Rememberance of 
   Johann Rötzer
Farmer of Gutenland
Obergefreiter (Corporal) in a Grenadier Regiment. 
Holder of the iron cross 2nd Class, the Eastern service medal, the Wound Badge, and the Infantry Assault Badge
Died heroically on March 23, 1944
in Italy (Velledei).

{Miliatary/patriotic grave scene
with Poem}

 Photo shows him wearing an M-43 cap.  Wehrmacht (Army) eagle on hat and right breast pocket.

Joseph Muller was a Obergefreiter(corporal) in a FLAK Battalion serving in Italy.  He was the holder of various awards.  The large photo in uniform wearing peaked Luftwaffe hat.  The photo was touched up to highlight the details of his uniform.  He was killed in action on 23 May, 1944, at age 23.  He was buried in Pomezia, Block L, Grave 549.
{ Translation of Front side }
  Killed in Action in Italy, our good son, as our brother 
Joseph Müller von Oberried
Farmer, Obergefreiter in a FLAK Battalion.
Holder of various awards.

Killed in action on 28 May, 1944, 
at Age 23.
{Miliatary/patriotic grave scene}
{Blank - no poem}

   Photo shows him dressed in an Luftwaffe uniform and peaked visor cap.  The Luftwaffe cap insignia was the cockade & wreath with the addition of "wings".  The Luftwaffe used a unique eagle device and small eagles on their collar rank insignia.

 Luftwaffe NCO cap.  Red piping for FLAK battery.

Obergefreiter Joseph Guggenberger served in a Mountain Regiment. He was injured in an air attack on 17 February, 1945, and died in a field hospital the next day.   He was buried in Costermano(Verona), Block 4, Grave 130.
Obergftr Guggenberger
Obergefr Guggenberger
{ Translation of Front side }
  Prayer Rememberance of son and brother 
   Joseph Guggenberger
Obergefreiter in a Gerbirgsjaeger Regiment.  Injured in an air attack on 17 February 1945 and died of his injuries on 18 February in a field hospital after 2-1/2 years of service.  He was laid to rest in a heroe's cemetery in Ferrara (Italy).

{Miliatary/patriotic grave scene}

 Edelweiss Pin worn by Mountain Troops
Photo shows him wearing an M-43 cap with an Edelweiss pin on the side just above his ear.  This pin was worn by mountain troops.

Three NEW cards recently acquired. Each of these cards are one sheet, printed on both sides.
 Grenadier Pvt. Ferdinand Zwick died at the end of the year in 1944.  This was after the Fall campaign at the GOTHIC Line and could have occurred during the German counter-attack against the 92nd Infantry Division at that time.  Corporal Zwick is buried at the Cemetery at Futa Pass in Block 30, Grave 323.  
Ferdinand Zwick death card
Ferdinand Zwick photo
{ Translation of Front side }
In devoted rememberance in honor of
   Ferdinand Zwick
Father's son of Weidenthal 
Corporal  in the Grenadier Regiment
Bearer of the Iron Cross 2nd Class,
Assault Badge and Wound Badge

Died on 22 September 1944 in defensive lines in Italy
when his young life ended.

  Photo shows Ferdinand wearing an Army uniform and a visor cap with buckles on the chin strap.
{ Back }

{ PHOTO}  

{Translation of Poem on Front }

The joy of your return
Was not granted to you.
And those who also wanted this whom you loved
still lament for you.

You sank there, as roses sink

When they are in bloom

and bitter hot tears fly.

Because you had to go for us

You see your homeland nevermore

We bend from aches and pains

Your place in our circle is empty.


Father our …  Ave Maria

 Artilleryman Corporal Georg Ferstl died during the fall campaigns at the GOTHIC Line. His place of death is listed as south of Bologna, which is the furtherest point of the Allied advance before the US 5th Army rested for the winter of 1944-45.  He is listed as an Unknown at the Cemetery at Futa Pass.

Georg Ferstl death card
Georg Ferstl photo
{ Translation of Front side }
 For the fatherland        Died a hero’s death 
Our beloved son and brother 

   Georg Ferstl
Builder’s son from Dasswang
Corporal in an Artillery Regiment
Fell on 11 October 1944 in the bloom of his life
barely 21 years old.
He rests in southern Bologna, Italy.

  Photo shows Georg wearing an Army uniform and a visor cap.
{ Back }

{ PHOTO }  

{Translation of Poem on Front }

A good son and brother said farewell
to his loving parents’ home
when they called him to duty
to fight with his last breath.
O beloved son and brother, your farewell weighs on us heavily.
Though we will see you no more in this life,
When Love becomes a miracle, and tears raise the dead,
You will return from the foreign land not as a stranger.
O God, give him and all other fallen comrades eternal peace.
Our father.   Ave Maria.

 Sans-Obegefreiter Hans Kandlbinder was a Medic with the Luftwaffe.  He died during the summer of 1944 near Lake Trasimeno, just north of Rome.  Located in this area was the site of an aircraft manufacture and test facility where the Germans tested the Italian aircraft.  Within 2 weeks of the fall of Rome on 6 June, the Allies had advanced to Lake Trasimeno.

Hans Kandlbinder death card
Hans Kandlbinder death card
{ Translation of Front side }
  To the devoted memory in honor of our only
beloved son and brother
  Hans Kandlbinder
A builder’s son from Stoferhof
Medic-corporal of the Luftwaffe
On 26 June 1944 in Chiusi on Lake Trasimene in Italy
at the age of 23 ½ years, he died a hero’s death for his
beloved homeland.
O, loving parents, good sisters

{ Translation of Back }

{1508 Dürer print of a knight. }


  Photo shows Hans wearing a Luftwaffe uniform with a side cap.  His rank depicted here is a private.

Research on the above Cards

A special thanks to Luca Di Mascio, who is researching the Cassino battles.  Di Mascio is from the UK but was born near Cassino.  He researched the names on the above cards at the German war graves commission files (Volksbundes Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge).  He was able to confirm every name and that most of these buried in Pomezia, just south of Rome.

Franz Rauch's date of death is 3 weeks off what is written on the card.  Buried in Pomezia, Block D Grab 439.
Johann Kötzer should be Johann Rötzer.  Buried in Pomezia, Block J Grab 420.
Josef Müller is buried in Pomezia, Block L Grab 549.
Karl Reuss
is buried in Pomezia, Block Q Grab 398.
Franz Dullinger is buried in Pomezia, Block 23 Grab 20.
Joseph Guggenberger is buried in Costermano(Verona), Block 4 Grave 130.

The entire database only lists 4 soldiers called Siegfried Ebner as having died in WW2 and amazingly two of them are buried at Cassino, and are of the same rank and similar age!  The date is off by 6 months; it should be January 27, 1944.   One of the two Ebner's is buried in Pomezia, Block 24 Grab 257.  More research is needed on him.

German Terms:
     EK - Ekin Cross = Iron Cross.
     EK II - Ekin Cross II = Iron Cross 2nd Class medal worn hung from a ribbon or a ribbon inserted through button hole of tunic.
     EK I - Ekin Cross = 1st Class medal that pinned on the pocket.
     Ost -  East = Eastern(Russian) Front Campaign medal.
     Gefreiter -  Private First Class in Army (each branch had different terms for same rank)
     OberGefreiter  - Corporal
     Jahre - years                  Jahren -  years of age
     Gebets Andeken -  Memorial Prayers
     R.I.P. -  abbreviated Latin phrase "requiescat in pace", which translates to "may he rest in peace".

Thanks, Emilie of Key Largo and Marcus and Tom for the cards.

Return to Top of Page -  Return

See the German Photos discovered in a camera liberated by Sgt. Cole.

Also, more photos of German soldiers at Luftwaffe Ground Troops.   Includes a color photo of a paratrooper.

German Units includes organizational tables of the German army and a table of rank equivalents to US ranks.

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