Return to History Part I

A Musician Goes to War - Notes on this Collection

Approximately 20% of the images were missing from this album when I acquired it but it was worth the price as it helps tell the story of the 2 Kradschutzen Battalion in Bad Kissingen then Austria and finally the early war years. The photos were mounted on to pages with no display captions. The backs of a few of the images had written captions, as usual, difficult to translate. For the on line album, I have set off the original captions with > … < and then tried to fill in the detail based on the known history of the unit. I have omitted the images that were clearly repetitious.

The cover of the album that contained the images of a cook - military bandsman from the 2 Krad Battalion. The pages were in rough shape but the images followed the life of the unit from Bad Kissingen - Austria - Poland and France.

I do not believe that the soldier who assembled the collection actually took the photos; similar to other German albums on the site, he probably was picking up spare pictures from unit friends who had their cameras handy. Why some were annotated and others not is a mystery.

The young soldier who collected the photos found in the album. On his shoulder strap, the K 2 marking of his unit, hanging at the shoulder, the military musician ' bird's nest ' marker.

We do not learn the soldier's name, he was a Gefreiter, a private who appears to have reported to Army duty at Bad Kissingen. Interestingly, his portrait photo and the subject of a number of other images in the collection show he was a military bandsman. This duty position was not authorized at the battalion level, the official military band of the 2nd Panzer Division was found in the division headquarters company. The evidence suggests, however, that ad hoc bands existed in many battalions and regiments in the pre war period. Any number of young men of that era had some level of music training, recall that almost every German village and town had a " fireman's band " and the Oommpahh sound caught the fancy of many families. That the 2 Krad had a band is a little surprising but as is often the case, if the unit commander said, " let it be so " the troops who could carry a tune probably fell from the rafters. It is a good bet that this soldier played in the mini concert that entertained the visiting civilians when the newly opened Kaserne hosted the population of Bad Kissingen during the first open house.

This interesting image is not from the album but shows the military band belonging to one of the 2nd Panzer Division's tank regiments playing at a parade. Apparently this musical tradition was carried on by the 2 Krad as well.

What this soldier's duty position was is unknown. Considering that he mentions a field kitchen location in one caption and captures a burning mess truck in another photo, perhaps he was a cook. The missing images may have more fully told the story, I doubt they were of troops in combat, however. To have removed those and left the dramatic field burial sequence seems incongruous. Nevertheless, the album provides yet another glimpse into the life and times of the first combat unit to occupy Manteuffel Kaserne. Of the thousands of men called to duty through the decades at Manteuffel - Daley, these images show the life of one of the earliest. Before you had your room, he had your room.

Album: Bad Kissingen - Austria - Poland