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Military Substitutes (Militär Stellvertretung)
Before parts of Germany were ruled by the French, actual military service could be transferred. Many young men were not fit for active service and could be excused by obtaining a certificate testifying that they had physical ailments or were the only one who could support the family. It was also feasible to get a substitute when active duty called. Especially young men who were apprentices or were enrolled at a university took advantage of getting a substitute.
The Prussians put a stop to this practice. To make this change more palatable, the authorities made military service a duty of honor. Nevertheless, old habits do not change easily. From newspapers it is known that yearly thousands of young men fled to escape solidarism. If it were not for stringent punishments and a matter of money, more fellows would have taken advantage. Many emigrants to America would have stayed if there had not been mandatory military service.
There existed the opportunity to enlist for a one-year stint, the so called “Freiwilligen” (which they were really not). In order to forego a three-year call to duty, many young men got schooling, took a test and when passed eliminated military service time. Many suffered hardships because of the school expenses because not only did they have to come up with tuition but also had to come up with money for their support. That could amount to hundreds or up to a thousand Thaler (currency) per year. If a young man would not pass the test, he still had to serve a 3-year term and shoulder all his expenses.
Other German and foreign states allowed substitutes. In England, many jobless people which would have otherwise been beggars and vagabonds and a burden to the government were in this wise cared for and also bettered because of the discipline they underwent. The Grandduchy of Oldenburg also allowed substitutes. For a couple of a hundred Thaler, one could get away from military service.
The State Archive of Oldenburg has archived contracts between those who volunteered as substitutes and those who wanted to avoid active military duty. More information can be found through AIDAonline search, Staatsarchiv Oldenburg, Akten: Auswärtige Beziehungen und Militär, Oldenburgisches Militär, Vorwort.
Here is a sample contract:
Before me the Garrison Auditor appeared today…
1. Johann Heinrich Hagemann from…. Amt….
Father of the recruit Jürgen Heinrich Friedrich Hagemann from ....
2. The servant Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Radanz from ....
and declared that the following contract was agreed upon and settled the following way:
The recruit Jürgen Heinrich Friedrich Hagemann from… birth year... military district...Nr…. will be drafted this year. The servant Radanz will stand in as a substitute for the recruit and will serve the 7year term in his stead. The substitute cannot demand deferment, but is obligated to take upon him the full measure of substitution.
Johann Heinrich Hagemann pays the servant Radanz for the compulsory service the sum of …. of which the substitute will receive the sum of….. in cash while the rest of the money will be paid in increments of …. per year.
Should the substitute after seven years not be released from his military service in the event of war or for any other reason through no fault of his, he will receive for each additional year of service the compensation sum of ….
Should the substitute not be called up for service because of too high a lottery number or should not be called to duty after all, he receives a compensation of….
The substitute takes upon himself the obligation to be at service should he called upon again at any time.
This contract is ratified by the parties and passed on to the authorities for authorization and confirmation.
There follows a remark by the authorities confirming that the contract is legal and binding and that the matter was entered into the official record (Amtshandelsbuch) page….
Der Kulturkämpfer. Zeitschrift für öffentliche Angelegenheiten. Herausgeber Otto Glagau. Vol. 7,
1883, S. 421 pp.
The Military Commission of the Grandduchy of Oldenburg issued the following publication on January 8, 1818 regarding the military levy for the coming year.
A good many soldiers of the infantry regiments are soon to be retired. Since the regiments were part of the German army, the contingent Oldenburg Jever had to be restocked with 480 soldiers of the birth year 1797 by Losung. This was to be done as follows: Each administrative district had to furnish names of recruits. All reclamations of reasons why some men are unable to serve had to be reported by Feb 1, 1818. After this date only cases of dire circumstances were considered. Otherwise each administrative district was to revise their list of potential soldiers and conduct a lottery, in which each young man gets a number. The names and numbers are then to be entered into a list and forwarded to the military commission. As soon as all lists were received, each candidate would be examined and his fitness rating determined. Should any man try to avoid compliance with his military duty by not showing up or leaving the country, such actions would have severe repercussions in form of punishment.
Source: Gesetzsammlung für das Herzogthum Oldenburg, vol. 3, printed by Gerhard Stallings widow 1819
The following information can be gleaned from Loosungslisten:
Loosungs # | Name | Birth | Birth place | occupation | examination | examination | Decision by |
The lists are archived by the State Archive Oldenburg. Look at military records by following these steps: Google: AIDAonline, choose Staatsarchiv Oldenburg, then Akten: Auswärtige Beziehungen und Militär, Oldenburgisches Militär, then choose the administration (Amt) to which the ancestor most likely belonged.