Karl Wyneken’s diaries

Karl Wyneken was born in 1884 and died in 1970. It was quite a while ago that his daughter, Ruth, told me about one of his diaries and even sent me a copy of it. I started transcribing it at the time but unfortunately had to discontinue that project for lack of time. In 2015 Ruth’s son, David, informed me that he had hired someone to translate two other diaries to English.

David sent me the completed translation of the second diary in December 2015, so now that I have electronic versions of all three of the diaries the next step is to share them — with David’s permission — on this page.

• Karl Wyneken – handwritten diary – 1914-1940 – scanned German original (very large!)

This is the one that I received from Karl’s daughter, Ruth. Karl started the diary in 1914 shortly before World War I broke out. He discontinued it very soon after joining the army and then resumed it in 1942 during World War II. The last entry is dated April 26, 1944, a year and a half before World War II ended.

You can also download the transcription that I’ve started.

Wer Zeit und Lust hat, kann gern an der Transkription weiter machen! Ich wäre dir sehr dankbar, weil ich sonst nicht weiß, wann ich Zeit dazu finden werde. Bitte kurz bescheid geben, damit nicht zwei Personen gleichzeitig dieselbe Arbeit machen.

Maybe someday when the handwritten diary has been transcribed somebody can commission an English translation.

• Karl Wyneken – Wartime Captivity – 1914-1920 – English translation

This is not so much a diary as memoirs of his time as a WWI prisoner of war in France from 1914 to 1920. He wrote this after his release using diaries, letters and his memory. These memoirs include photographs taken during his captivity.

Huge thanks to Karl’s grandson, David, for having this translated!

• Karl Wyneken Diaries 4 April 1945 – 28 June 1950 – English translation

He starting keeping this diary at a time when it had started to look like Germany was going to lose the war. It’s interesting to read his pessimistic remarks about developments and future eventualities. He stopped writing in this diary a few years after the end of the war.

Again, I’d like to express my gratitude to Karl’s grandson, David, for commissioning the translation and for his willingness to share!

About Karl Wyneken

Karl was a teacher and botanist. At the outbreak of World War I he immediately enlisted in the army. He was sent to the French front and very quickly wounded and taken prisoner. He spent the whole war as a prisoner of war in various French camps.

During World War II he was unable to work as a teacher because of his opposition to the Nazi party. I believe he may have been forced to retire at an early age. During some of the years of the Nazi regime he occupied himself by doing a lot of work — on an unpaid, solely volunteer basis — in the Brockengarten, an alpine botanical garden on the summit of the Brocken, the tallest peak in the Harz mountains of Germany. Information about the Brockengarten is available in articles in the English and the German Wikipedia, as well as in a description on the National Park Harz webpage.

Karl was part of a family that I find very interesting for a number of reasons. His father, Ernst Wyneken, is the man who compiled the Wyneken family tree around the turn of the 20th century. His oldest brother was the educator, Gustav Wyneken, and one of his sisters was Luise, who I describe a bit in my description of the Wyneken family tree. Another of his sisters was Adolfine, whose children and grandchildren I know personally and with whom I stay in touch here in Germany.

Ernst Wyneken family

Ernst Wyneken family – Karl is on the far right



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