|The Battle of Jebsheim,
France -from a French
point-of-view. Page 16
|ON THE FARM #12, GRAND RUE- ANDRE SELIG, 46 YEARS OLD AND MRS
EMMA SELIG, A WIDOW, 70 YEARS OLD.
At the time of The Battle of Jebsheim, I was only seven , but I have forgotten nothing about
those days and I often think now about the drama that we lived and that marked me so
We lived in the upper village, next to Jean Oberlin's farm, near the constabulary, there where
Jules Scherer's family lives now.
In January 1945, the order came to take all precautions because the war would soon reach our
area. So my father buried all the dishes, some food and other utensils. Unfortunately, during
the fighting a shell landed on the spot and ruined everything we had hidden..
We found refuge at our neighbor's George Oberlin, as did other families from the village. We
were all living in the stable because it was the most solid building. We slept on the ground on
straw with a few blankets. Mrs. Oberlin did the cooking in the kitchen of the house, but no one
stayed there. Every morning and evening, Mr. Sigismond Bentz went to feed and milk his cows
that were at his farm a few hundred meters farther down in the village, where Fernad Bentz's
place is today. My father did the same thing, and all the others, women and children, remained
in the stable.
The Germans had set up their field hospital across the street at Charles Selig's house. The
German stretcher bearers who went out everyday looking for the wounded, would come and
see us in the evening to find out if anyone was sick. He had a big red cross on a white
background on his chest and back. At nightfall, the war machine cranked up again; shots,
detonations, shell bursts, etc. That went on for a long time, until the day when the stretcher
bearer told us that he could no longer allow Mr. Bentz and my father to go alone to their
farms--they would have to be accompanied by a soldier. And now when they went out they
wore a big white sheet over their heads so that they would not recognized. That lasted two or
three days. But the shooting got closer and closer and became more intense.
On the evening of 27 January, the German stretcher bearer was himself wounded on the way to
see us. He managed to drag himself to his infirmary, but we never saw him again.
By 28 January, no one went out of the stable any more--everyone feared that from one
moment to the next a shell might fall on us and blow everything up. I hid under the
blankets--now and then, I would raise my head and ask mother:"Mama, are you still praying?"
Mr George Oberlin was wounded and evacuated. The noise of airplanes, shooting , the shells
bursting, the sound of buildings collapsing all around, created an atmosphere that was enough
to drive you mad.
That evening, a German soldier came to warn my father that our farm and house were on fire.
My father told him to go free the cattle and horses. After a while, the soldier returned to report
that he had done what my father told him, except for one horse that was too violent and would
not let him approach. My father told him where he could find an ax that would allow him to
knock down the feeding trough and cut the tie that was holding the horse. The soldier left and
came back again to announce that he had succeeded in freeing the horse. My father was much
relieved at the news, because he liked that horse very much.
What an evening..No one felt like sleeping. Our house, which was being consumed by flames,
was scarcely one meter away from the stable where we were. Everyone was seized by panic.
What could we do? If we went out, we were sure to die. We could only sit and wait.
Through a miracle, there was a lot of snow on the roof and it was melting from the heat of the
fire and running along the wall of the stable and this gave us some hope. Moreover, the north
wind was blowing somewhat and kept the flames away from our walls. I still remember the
sound of the melting snow. What trickling--one would have thought a violent storm was taking
place! And then the cracking of the beams, the noise of tiles falling from roofs, the planes, the
hissing of shells--we were in the midst of the battle--and should one hope to come out all that
The morning of 29 January arrived and the battle continued with as much intensity until about
1500 hours (3 PM)--and then, suddenly you heard nothing more, not a single shot. There was
a general sigh of relief. It's over Outside you could hear the coming and going of soldiers who
spoke French. After a while, a soldier came and opened the door and told us to come outside
with our hands in the air. A sad spectacle awaited us. In the courtyard, French soldiers were
assembling numerous German prisoners. Mr. Oberlin's barn was still burning. At his house,
the doors and windows were smashed and full of bullet holes. On the ground, there lay the
dead, munitions, and debris of all kinds. Next door, the buildings of our farm were nearly
It was time to see if anything useful could be done. A soldier gave us permission to leave, with
our hands in the air. We had scarcely gone out of the courtyard, when about ten soldiers,
crouching in a row, aimed their rifles at us, ready to kill us at the slightest movement. My
mother was screaming in fear, whereas, I didn't yet understand what was going on. Finally, we
went down the street slowly. What a sight. Mr Woelffle's farm was still burning as was Mr
Jean Selig's. On the little square, in front of Selig's garage, were a small house used to stand,
there was nothing left but a pile of smoking beams. Marie Husser's house, next door, had just
burned down. Jean Herrmann's little house seemed intact--We went in but found on one. In
the courtyard, I tripped over a dead soldier. We went on down the street. Mr Sigismond
Bentz's barn was still burning. Across the way, in Haller's courtyard, we heard a dying soldier
moan. On the road, the way was more or less cleared, but on the sides there lay munitions,
armored cars that had been knocked out of action, and all sorts of debris.
We continued in Riedwihr Street and entered George Husser's house at the corner. There we
finally found some residents of Jebsheim, but there were already twenty of them so we
continued to George Herrmann's farm, where we found room in the stable and where we
stayed for two weeks. We had nothing left, but the same clothes that we had been wearing for
weeks and a few blankets. My father found one of his cows and two heifers, as well as a
horse that he had to go to Muntzenheim to get back. It was with this meager stock that we set
to work again to start farming again.
We lodged for two months in Charles Selig's house, then we had a rented farm for a few years.
in 1952, we finally moved in the farm we have now that was rebuilt in the middle of the village.
THE FIRST BIRTH IN JEBSHEIM AFTER THE LIBERATION. MRS
MARGUERITE BOESCHLIN, A WIDOW, FARM #34, RIEDWIHR STREET, 73
In January 1945, when we knew that the lives of the inhabitants were beginning to be
endangered, my husband built a sort of blockhouse in the garden to shelter us. He had put in a
stove, a small iron bed in anticipation of the approaching birth of our child, and a reserve of
But the Germans had installed a radio transmitting post not far from us and the Allied shells
began to rain in our garden. We could no longer remain in the shelter. So we left to join my
brother-in-law in Jacques Boeschlin's stable at #31 Grand Rue. But there too a shell damaged
the building and we left again. My husband, my daughter, and I went to Paul Obrecht's farm,
located next to ours at #32, Riedwihr Street. From time to time, my husband would go and
visit our house. It was occupied by Germans. After the fighting in this neighborhood, it would
be occupied by French soldiers. My husband saw in our courtyard numerous German
prisoners lined up against the wall and being searched. In our bedroom, nurses were treating
without any letup numerous wounded soldiers. All our linen and white sheets were taken for
the wounded and the room was strewn with bandages and spots of blood.
Then 29 January arrived. The upper village was burning, planes passed overhead constantly,
and shells were exploding everywhere. Our house and Paul Obrecht's farm were hit by shells.
Since I was approaching term, it was dangerous to remain there--I would have preferrred to
stay and give birth among my people, but a French soldier persuaded me to leave the village.
on 29 January, I left in a military ambulance with my daughter, Huguette, who was ten, and
some wounded soldiers. When we got to Ostheim Street in from of the Sembach's house,
today Andre Zimmerlin's, an alert forced the ambulance to stop. The driver ran to shelter and
we waited for half an hour in the street, exposed to the shells that were coming in from the
direction of the Rhine. The crossing of the Ried River also left me a poignant memory. In front
of us, the Allied artillery was firing towards Hardt Woods, while behind us, the German artillery
attempted to knock it out. And our ambulance, moving at a high speed across fields, shell
craters, jolted the wounded who did not stop moaning.
At Guemar, we were among those selected to go on and I was placed in a hammock attached
to the top of an ambulance. We left, with some wounded, for Ribeauville. There, a new
selection- I was among those chose again- a new ambulance, and still in my hammock, my
daughter sitting with the driver who was a woman, we left in the night. At midnight, I was
dropped off with my daughter at a house that took people in at Saint-Marie-aux-Mines. The
night caretaker did not want to, or for some reason could not, take us in. So there I was in the
middle of the night with my two suitcases, my ten-year old daughter, Huguette, out in the cold
with snow up to our knees. I will spare you the rest of the story, about how we spent the night,
how we managed--I had brought a turkey in one of my suitcases--to find people who
understood our needs, and finally were taken in by the good sisters. It was with them that my
son Marcel was born on February 1. He was the first inhabitant of Jebsheim to be born after
It was also there that I was able to see two other wounded civilians from Jebsheim, George
and Berthe Frey. A lady who was originally from Jebsheim, Mrs Ritter, who was living in
Saint-Marie-aux-Mines lodged me and my daughter for a time.
Three weeks later, thanks to the help of a charitable railroad employee who passed us off as
his wife and children, I was able to return to my village. In fact, it was impossible at that time to
obtain a pass and all circulation in the area was blocked