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Czerwinski Brother
Czerwinski Brother  
I'm hoping you can help me identify the uniforms in the attached pictures.  This are pictures of my great-grandmother's brother(s) who were born in the area of Wongrowitz, Posen, Poland (surname of Czerwinski). His sisters who immigrated to the US were born between 1863 and 1880 - I'm assuming he was born in the 1870s and was probably in the military during the late 1880s or early 1890s. I was told he was in the German army. Any information you can offer would be appreciated.

Answer
To be able to better evaluate these uniforms I will contact my good friend Lt. Colonel S. Bojerud (Retired). He and I are friends since our time in the Royal Guards of the Royal Swedish Army where he was both company and battalion commander and I was the chief medical officer. I will mail him the pictures you have sent me as well as your question. As you can see from my previous answers here he has been of very great help with regards to old uniforms from all parts of the world. However there are some things I can inform you of already now. Since the partition of Poland in the late 18th century between Prussia, Austria and Russia there was in the late 19th century no state with the name of Poland. There was a king of Poland but that was the Russian tsar (emperor) though he only ruled the Russian parts of what had once been Poland. Posen was part of what Prussia had taken during the Polish partition. So Posen was part of Prussia.  At that time Germany was not a unified state. It was a collection of independent kingdoms, one empire (Austria) and principalities. The largest of these states were in alphabetical order Austria and Prussia. Parts of both were old Polish territory. Also other parts were hardly German. To Austria belonged Bohemia-Moravia (today Checkia) and Hungary including Slovakia and parts of today's Romania. Also today's Slovenia, Croatia, parts of Italy etc belonged to Austria. For that reason other German states had their doubts that Austria truly was a German state. Prussia's doubts were very pronounced! In 1870 there was a war between Prussia and France. All other German states except Austria participated on the Prussian side. Prussia was victorious. As a result a federal but united German state was formed where Austria was excluded. Prussia was a kingdom and the largest of the states within this new Germany. Yes parts of it were old Polish territory but Prussia was much more "German" than Austria. The king of Prussia was now made emperor of Germany but was still also king of Prussia. The other German kingdoms remained kingdoms but their kings were put in a chain of command below the German emperor. The same with all the princes etc. Germany was united with regards to monetary currency - money, customs - free trade within, citizenship, foreign policy and foreign representation (embassies etc) and military and naval matters. Also with regards to railroads, mail, telegraph etc. In other areas things remained as before. There was an imperial unified navy. But with regards to the army there was a curious mixture of old and new.  The central command was imperial. But the regiments remained a matter for the states. Like the National Guards in the USA.  So though you could talk of an Imprial German Army you still talked of Royal Prussian Regiments, Royal Bavarian Regiments & Royal Saxon Regiments etc. In fact for all practical purposes there was still a Royal Prussian Army but it was part of the Imperial German Army. So since your relative came from Posen and probably did his compulsory military service - 2 years if I remember correctly - in the 1870ies or 1880ies he did it as a soldier of Prussia in the German Army! I do hope that explains it?! I will now send your question and pictures on to Col. Bojerud. As soon as he has replied I will come back to you with the answer he has given.


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Sorry, of course I meant the 1880ies or 1890ies but that does not change anything!


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Thanks!
Col. Bojerud has answered. The regiment indicated by the pictures of the uniforms is the 5th infantry guards regiment in Spandau outside Berlin in Brandenburg, Prussia. So as I told you he belonged to a Royal Prussian regiment in the Imperial German Army. This was an Infantry Guards Regiment, so a kind of an elite regiment. And therefore the soldiers were not only recruited from Prussia but from all over Germany. He must have been a good recruit to end up there. The time frame is around 1890. In one of the pictures he seems to be a private. In the other probably a little higher in rank maybe a corporal. That is probably at the end of his 2 year conscription period. Col. Bojerud sends his regards and wants to remind you that through the archives of Ellis Island outside New York you can without cost determine when he arrived in the USA and his birth date. Good luck! I do hope you are satisfied?!

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Claes-Gustaf Nordquist, M.D.

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I`m a retired Swedish military physician-surgeon with a big interest in military history - mainly European and especially of the Nordic-Scandinavian area. This also includes the history of military medicine.

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A very long and intense personal interest.

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Doctor of Medicine. You can also find me here on AllExperts.com under these categories: I also answer questions in other categories: Oncology (General Cancer), General History, Brain Tumors, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer

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