This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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The Baden Life Grenadier Regimental Musicians

11 April 2010

Here's a fun group. This is a postcard from August 1909 of the Bitscher Kur-Orchester. They look like German soldiers but where is Bitsch? You won't find it on  a map of Germany or anywhere in today's Europe.

One of the preludes to WWI was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. When it ended in 1871 with a victory for Prussia and the North German Confederation over France, it unified the German States under Kaiser Wilhelm I and added the French territory of Alsace and Lorraine. Bitche or (Bitsch in German) is a small town on the river Orne in the Moselle department of Lorraine in northeastern France.

But this group's title is a kind of joke I think. A Kur-Orchester is a Spa Orchestra, the kind of small band that would play light music for people enjoying the cure at a health spa. But Bitsche does not seem to be a place known for mineral waters. The answer is that these soldiers are members of the Badische Leib-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 109. How do I know that? Because the internet is a place where one can find out anything.
 Helmet front plates or Wappen are very distinctive and the one fierce NCO at the back is wearing the helmet of the 109th Baden

The detail in the photo is very clear and I found that there are websites devoted to the WWI German Army Helmets or Pickelhaube.

Here is a picture of a Life Grenadier Regimental helmet from the collection at

The shoulder epaulet is also distinctive -a red crown on white for the Leib Grenadiers. Even more military history (in German) with nice illustrations of the uniforms can be found here: Badisches_Leib-Grenadier-Regiment_Nr._109#Uniform

Tailors must have made a good living on military uniforms.

Here is the postcard back.

Baden was a state in the German Empire on the east bank of the Rhine River in southwest of Germany. And Baden-Baden is a famous Spa town there. If you were a  lonely soldier writing home to your sweet-heart or parents, you might want to make army-life sound a little more jolly. Hence a Kur-Orchester.

1 comment:

Philippe said...

I happened to visit Bitche just a few weeks ago. Interestingly, the fortress that dominates the whole town did never capitulate to the German troops in the 1870-71 campaign, despite a long and brutal siege. Together with the Belfort garrison the Bitche citadel held out until the French emperor Napoleon III surrendered to Kaiser Wilhelm. The place is worth a visit. There's an excellent audiovisual itinerary.

Thanks for sharing all this interesting and thoroughly researched material on your website.


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