The region of Alsace and part of the Lorraine (modern France) had been annexed to the German Empire after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The language spoken was then German, although a lot of inhabitants still considered France their country.
Latest child of a wealthy family in Mulhouse, Alsace. His parents ran a repair and selling shop for small engines and typewriters on Mulhouse main street. Ernest pursued an education in mechanics, electricity and industrial design. He invented a number of things, including an anti-theft for cars (at the time of the “Bande à Bonnot“!).
Ernest, although he had a German culture, loved France and decided to move in his neighbouring at age 18. He didn’t speak French yet, but found employment as a driver and mechanic for a rich tycoon.
On August 2nd 1914, on the brink of the Great War, near Belfort, the French troops were positioned in Joncherey. There, withdrawn from the border, they supposedly avoided skirmishes. But a patrol of Uhlans made an incursion in French territory and fire was exchanged. The French Corporal André Peugeot was killed (first French to be killed in the war), but the German patrol was captured. Since the automobiles were rare at the time, it was Ernest that drove the prisoner German Lieutenant for an interrogation in Belfort. And since Ernest spoke German, he served as translator.
In 1916 he wanted to enrol in the French army, but since he was a German citizen, he had to join the Foreign Legion. But in case of a capture by the Germans, he could easily be identified as the deserter Ernest Martin. So the recruter signed Ernest in the regular army under a false identity: Ernest Faulque, using his wife’s maiden name.
Meanwhile, Ernest’s own brother, in Mulhouse, incorporated into the German army. Fortunately, he has been in the Keiserliche Marine, therefore the brothers never had to fight each other directly.
He survived WWI, only to witness WWII. When Maréchal Pétain surrendered to the Germans, he had to be transferred to the Sigmaringen fortress. It was again Ernest that drove the prisoner to the fortress.