walter schulze-mittendorff bio 07

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff

7. Wartime
>> bio 8: The War 1914 - 1918bio08.html

The grade of the ‚Künstler-Einjährige’ is meaningful insofar as it enables young men without a grade in higher education to participate in the ‚One-Year-Voluntary-Military-Service’-program.
With the beginning of the First World War on August 1, 1914, it is ultimately inevitable for any young man to be drafted into service. The ‚Einjährige Freiwilligen-Militärdienst’ (which in view of the war doesn’t last for a whole year) offers the advantage of choice regarding the particular branch of service, and at the end of the year one advances to the grade of reserve officer, which is certainly a point of advantage in such a situation.
Walter initially joins the cavalry, and at the beginning of 1915, he goes to war as reserve officer where he fights as a front soldier in the field artillery.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, 1915,
as soldier in the German Army

With the exception of documentary war painting or photography and the war memorials, all requiring art in their production, war and the arts are, after all, essentially two fields in opposition to each other, the artist being a creative, a productive being, whereas the purpose of war is destruction. Where art will foster the expression of beauty and aesthetics, war with its abomination of violence, destruction, and decay shatters everything. Walter is mysteriously able to retain his personal aesthetics even as he has to learn the art of warfare. Even under the conditions of his basic military training his appearance is always correct, and in a way, impeccable. It is possible that his general appearance may have saved him from the draconian punishments that some of his comrades were subjected to for negligence and incorrectness, such as having to scrub the floor with a toothbrush. Perhaps he had an untouchable aura about him which ultimately saved him from battlefield injuries as well.

Later on, nothing will be told of the general experiences during a war, of danger and of heroic deeds, of death and deprivation. What does get told instead, is a story about peace.
For one Christmas Eve at the front lines, Walter carves a Christ Child from a swede and in a stable the soldiers celebrate the Holy Feast.
Even in the midst of war, peace is possible – true peace remains untouched.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff, far right,
Christmas in the war zone; 
a soldier as Maria, holding the Christ Child

 In January of 1919, Walter is discharged from the army, decorated with the Order of Merit for Bravery, the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.

Walter Schulze-Mittendorff,  1919
Ilmenauer Straße, Berlin-Schmargendorf
<< bio Indexbio_index.html