Home » Seminars and Projects » Study trip Madrid 2011 » Exile Stories XII: Leaving Germany after WWII – Exile in the French Foreign Legion?

Exile Stories XII: Leaving Germany after WWII – Exile in the French Foreign Legion?

Carsten, Germany

Carsten found an unusual exile story, at least if you compare it to those we have already published:
When I searched for interview partners for the project, a friend mentioned his great- uncle Adolf K. who went into exile to Africa and joined the French Foreign Legion.
Adolf K. has already died, but his family had interviewed him due to his volatile past. They gave me an insight into their notations.
Born in 1901, Adolf K. and his four siblings grew up on a farm near Berlin. His youth was shaped by the difficult conditions of the rural life, his military service during World War I and especially by the strict education by his father which caused lasting tension within the family. The tensions with his father aggravated to a serious conflict which forced Adolf to leave the farm. Thereupon he struggled through alone as a wage worker on a different farm.
As soon as the Nazis gained power in Germany, he joined the army of the Reich voluntarily. After the outbreak of World War II, he fought on the Mediterranean sea and to conquer the Greek islands, where he was stationed after the capture. Later, he talked about a prison camp on a “tomato island” (meant could be the concentration camp on Cypris) where he had to work as jail guard. After the recapture of the Mediterranean islands, Adolf returned to his families farm where the family found refuge from the Red Army. When the war was over, Adolf K. decided to go to exile to North Africa.
In Germany, his fight as soldier for his home country was not respected, the struggles with his father (who wanted him to marry against his will) continued, beyond that he had no perspectives for the future. He missed the stability which he had found in the army with his comrades wanted to flee from his father’s control. Therefore, he joined like many other German ex- soldiers did that time the French Foreign Legion. In this army, he fought as simple mercenary without identity and without opportunity for advancement (since he was not french) but with respectable salary in the wars of independence in Africa.
When his father died, he returned to Germany and assumed his parents’ farm. With the money he gained in the Foreign Legion, he was able to live without any financial worries.
He obviously missed his home and his family (except for his father) to which he established a cordial relation.
Adolf K. emigrated not because of persecution but rather because of the disfavor he got from people in his environment and he came back to his home country because of his desire for his identity and family.