My Equestrian Roots

IMG_20150216_0002 (2)

Prussian Royal Hussars 1903

eik18

King Ludwig II

Most of my ancestors were equestrians; they were cavalry officers in royal regiments.  My grandfather, Alfred Ludwig (1864–1951), was a riding teacher with the Prussian Royal Hussars.

Among his pupils were King Ludwig II of Bavaria and several Prussian princes, and it was no surprise that his two sons would also be engaged with horses.  His oldest son, Wolfgang (Wolf) Ludwig Richard Alfred Carl Johan, Dr.Juris. Freiherr von Kapp-herr, born November 2, 1889 in Munich, was my father.

After completing his classical high school education, my father volunteered as an officer cadet for military service in August 1917, joining the Royal Bavarian Chevau-légers regiment in Nuremberg.  He was assigned to a combat mission in the spring of 1918 on the Russian front in Romania with the Bavarian cavalry division, advancing through Bessarabia and the Ukraine, defeating the Bolshevik army at Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula.

IMG_20150207_0001 (2)

He was promoted to lieutenant and decorated with the Iron Cross.  In the last phase of the war, the regiment made the return journey on horseback with continued skirmishes against revolting partisans.  While holding their stand, the regiment allowed straggling German troops to retreat into their homeland.  My father returned to Nuremberg with his regiment in the spring of 1919.  The dismissal of the oldest Bavarian cavalry regiment came without delay.

My father then went to Munich to study agricultural management at the technical institute, then law at the universities in Munich and Erlangen.  He married in 1922, graduated in 1923 with a doctorate in law, and became a business manager and director of a fish processing company in Salzburg.  Persistent calling from his military comrades persuaded him to return to Bavaria with his family.  There, he re-entered military service as a second lieutenant and commander of an infantry company in 1935.  One of the perks of this position was the acquisition of a horse to lead his company in parades and to enter into equestrian events during the entirety of his military career, which finally ended in 1945 with the end of the second World War.

IMG_20150208_0005 (5)

Years later, I flew from Canada to visit my father in Salzburg, in time to be at his bedside when he slipped into a coma in the arms of his second wife, Ida.  He died on August 7, 1970.  I had to leave before his funeral, but was told that it was royally attended by the citizens of Salzburg, and that the entire province’s police force marched in a parade in his honour – on horseback.

IMG_20150209_0001 (2)