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Friedrich Ebert letter to Johann Goldak

 Item — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS 9454

Scope and Contents

Original typed, signed letter dated March 17, 1919, addressed to Mr. H. Goldak (Johann Goldak) as well as "Prisoners of War Company No. 10 in France" from Friedrich Ebert, the newly elected Reich President of Germany. President Ebert writes to thank Goldak for keeping up with the election and other happenings in Germany (and congratulating him on his win) and assures him that they are doing everything they can to help German prisoners to be able return home quickly. Goldak was at the time in an American-run POW camp, still held captive four months after the WWI armistice. The letter is written in German.


  • 1919 March 17


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from the Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

Friedrich Ebert, the seventh of nine children of Karl Ebert and Katharina Hinkel, was born February 4, 1871, in Heidelberg, Germany. He married Louise Rump in 1894, and they raised five children together, including politician Friedrich "Fritz" Ebert Jr. Ebert was a leader of the Social Democratic movement in Germany and a moderate socialist; he was a leader in bringing about the constitution of the Weimar Republic, which attempted to unite Germany after its defeat in World War I. Ebert was the first president of the Weimar Republic, from 1919 until his death in office on February 28, 1925, in Berlin. He was buried in Heidelberg, Germany.

Biographical / Historical

Johann Goldak was born in late August 1895 to Johann Goldak and Luise Romahn in Lyck, East Prussia, Germany (now Poland), the second of five sons. As a young man, while working to help support his family after his father's death in 1904, he learned Polish from his customers, which he later used to act as an interpreter during the war.

At the age of 17, Goldak completed his engineering studies. When World War I broke out two years later, Johann enlisted and was put to work laying cables (among other duties) as an engineer. He first fought on the Russian front, where his feet froze badly, and he was later shot very close to the heart. He miraculously survived and was later able to have surgery; 3 months later, he was sent back to the front lines, but this time in France. He was captured and taken to an American-run POW camp, where he was the highest-ranking officer. As such, when they were still being held prisoner in March 1919, four months after the Armistice, he wrote to the newly-elected first president of the new Weimar Republic, Friedrich Ebert, to ask when they might be released. He won three awards in the war, including the Iron Cross.

Goldak married Helene Hulda Erna Kalkkuhl in Apen, Westerstede, Oldenburg, Germany, on September 28, 1927. They raised two sons and two daughters. The family emigrated to the area of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1929 and 1930. Goldak died January 21, 1974, in Parksville, British Columbia, Canada.


1 sheet ; 21 x 26 cm

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The letter was written to a German soldier, Johann Goldack, while he was a prisoner of war in a French POW camp (in response to Johann's letter asking when they might be released). Upon his death, it was inherited by his daughter, Leslie Goldack Clapson. She, along with her husband, Lorne Clapson, donated the letter in October 2019.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Leslie Goldack Clapson and Lorne Clapson; October 2019.


Western history (Mormon and Western American Manscripts Collection Development Policy, V.B.5.c, 2020)

Processing Information

Processed; Amanda Crandall; March 2024.

Friedrich Ebert letter to Johann Goldak
In Progress
Amanda Crandall
2024 March 4
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States