Life and Work

Mohr in World War I

Military service

Mohr’s studies proceeded without disturbance until 1914. Germany’s entry in World War I on August 1st, 1914, though, interrupted them abruptly. Two weeks after the beginning of the war already, Mohr was conscripted for the Artillery Ammunition Column 2 of the Bavarian Replacement Division. After 5 days he was promoted to „supplementary sanitary sergeant“. A good two months later, Mohr was appointed a subordinate field physician (Feldunterarzt) and transferred to the II. Battalion of the Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 15 from Nördlingen in July, 1915. In the following he did his service in the first front line of the Western front.

Bravery

In various occasions Mohr excelled by exceptional bravery, especially in the course of 1916. In various occasions he rescued and saved comrades under enemy fire. In documents referring to the award of medals to Mohr the circumstances which led to the award are often described in a dramatic manner. In response to a request of the War Archive in Munich in 1920, Mohr himself described the events which led to the award of the Silver Medal for Bravery as follows (quotation and all other quotations from documents on this page from Carl-Ludwig Reichert, Lieber keinen Kompaß, als einen falschen, Munich 1997, p 16 ff.): „(…) subordinate field physician of the reserve (…) (in Haudiamont near Verdun. Assistance in the foremost front line, among other things carrying of a wounded Major. After the three medical orderlies attributed to me had been killed in action, I continued to carry the badly wounded alone, etc. etc. (…))“. And in a note of 1916 which concerns the proposition to award the Military Silver Medal of Merit to Mohr it we read: „(…) E.g. in Grimaicourt on April 8th, 16 under heavy fire a grenade hit a dugout and killed four men, meanwhile five more were wounded. Mohr, now, from his battlefield hospital on the other side of the village, went to the destroyed dugout and cared for the wounded there, although the fire continued, i.e. under an exceptional risk for his own life; by doing this he saved the five men’s life; without Mohr they would have been irretrievably lost. (…)“. Apart from the medals mentioned already during the course of the war Mohr was awarded the Prussian Iron Cross, I. and II. Class, and the Military Cross of Merit with Swords.

Mohr in uniform, 1915
Mohr in uniform, 1915

Literary beginnings

During the wartime years Mohr made his first attempts as a writer. Apart from three unpublished plays which are his first attempts in the theater genre, he particularly wrote poetry. In his Sonette nach durchlesenen Nächten im Unterstand (Sonnets after read-through Nights in the Dugout) and Sonette des Infanteristen (Sonnets of the Infantryman) which later were published in 1917 as a private publication in a compilation as Sonette im Unterstand (Sonnets in the Dugout) he reflected his war experiences and the fighting in the trenches.

Further promotion, Mohr wounded in action

In June, 1916 Mohr was promoted to auxiliary field physician of the reserve (Feldhilfsarzt der Reserve). Shortly after that he probably was severely wounded as one can guess from the grant of a vacation in Bad Reichenhall „in order to restore his health“. As we learn from a short autobiography published by Mohr in 1925, he was wounded four times during World War I.

In World War I (Mohr on the horse on the right)
In World War I (Mohr on the horse on the right)

Completion of medical studies

In the beginning of 1917 Mohr used the opportunity to participate in a three month-course for students of medicine in Munich. Apart from classes in chirurgy and gynecology Mohr also attended classes in psychiatry. After that he underwent the medical state examination, with (among others) chirurgy, gynecology and internal medicine as subjects. On May 24th, 1917 he passed the examination and was awarded the rating „good“. His war experience was acknowledged as a year of practical studies. Mohr was granted the license to practice medicine (Approbation) in the German Reich. When he returned to his regiment, he was promoted to assistant physician of the reserve (Assistenzarzt der Reserve) on July 31st, 1917.

English prisoner of war

In September, 1917 Mohr was taken prisoner by English troops in Flanders. In an official document „Statements on the capture“, we read: “Ass. phys. Mohr was physician in charge (…) near Ypres in the morning of September 20th, 17 when the infantry attack of the English began which had been prepared by extremely heavy artillery fire and fog bombs. The enemy invaded the left and the right side of the battlefield hospital and caught it from the back. The people close to him were partly killed, partly wounded. It is clear that ass. phys. Mohr was taken prisoner involuntarily.“ Shortly afterwards the Red Cross reported his presence in a POW camp near Southhampton where Mohr passed nearly one year before being exchanged for English prisoners in Aachen on September 26th, 1918.

Mohr (on the right) with another military doctor
Mohr (on the right) with another military doctor