BERLIN (Agence France-Presse) — Franz Künstler, the last surviving World War I veteran from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, died Tuesday in Niederstetten, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, where he had lived since 1946. He was 107.This story fascinated me for one of two reasons.
His death was announced by town officials.
Mr. Künstler was born in a German-speaking area of what is now Romania in July 1900, joined the army in 1918 and served in the artillery in Italy until the end of the war.
Mr. Künstler also fought in World War II and in later life became known as “the emperor’s last soldier,” receiving requests for autographs from England, Germany and the United States.
“I could do with a secretary,” he told the German magazine Cicero in April.
One, even in this day and age, living to 107 is amazing. Two, the man survived two of the most terrible conflicts in human existance. After surviving the "war to end all wars," Mr. Künstler lived through the starts of over 250 wars, armed conflicts and bloody revolutions or coups. Justified or unjustified, it's fairly clear that the machinery of war continues unabated. And hey, why not?