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
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

Kameraden der Kaserne

06 July 2018

Buddies, pals,
mates, comrades.
Military service forms special bonds of friendship.

It's a relationship based on a shared experience.
A common understanding
of demanding and often hazardous work,
of baffling orders and boring delays,
of ridiculous loss and glorious victory.

And occasionally interrupted by intense danger
and terrifying menace.

It helps to have good confidants
who've endured the hardships
and savored the same emotions of wartime.

Those are true comrades in arms.
The pals who would do anything for you.

What soldier wouldn't want a photo of the best of those times?

This postcard photo shows a barracks room
of 15 soldiers of the German Imperial Army
sometime between 1914 and 1918.
Though there is no date, no names, or other markings,
this kind of goofy pose was a very popular style
for German soldiers to make during the Great War.
Though I've seen a few similar postcards
from British and French soldiers,
this lighthearted picture was very much a German fashion
as there are hundreds for sale on the postcard markets.

The men clowning around over a keg of German beer
attracted my attention
because the camera captured a rare goodnatured quality
of soldiers in wartime.

 I liked it enough to buy
a second postcard from the same dealer.

It's the same brand of beer,
but a different keg
that still has its tap.

The photographer of this photo
has asked the soldiers to look at the camera.

It's a jolly bunch that is also
in a barracks room in a state of off-duty
wearing undress uniforms just like the first group.

The silliness in this photo is
that they are enjoying a meal
of potatoes? Dumplings?
Cheese fondue?
What goes with beer?

The photo of this group of a dozen soldiers
is also unmarked without date or place.
They might be from a different regiment
but there are some odd similarities with the first postcard.

There are tiny features of the barracks rooms
that are similar.
The wood cabinets in the corners are a bit alike.
And at first I thought the enameled pitcher
might be a match.
But on close inspection the mess scars
are in slightly different places.

But the long Bavarian hunter's smoking pipe
held by the soldier on the right in the first photo
is definitely a match. 

The best match is his goateed comrade
seated left in the first photo
and standing right in the second
this time with a standard pipe.
You can't hide wide ears like that.

If you like a game
see if you can find another match.
There are about six or seven more.

Were the photos taken on the same day?
In the same room?
It's hard to say,
but I'm convinced that
they are the same German soldiers, mostly,
and from the same unit.

Kameraden der Kaserne
Comrades of the Barracks

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where sometimes you have to wait for your beer.


Wendy said...

Both photos are fun to study, so full of details that demand a story of their own. About the pitcher - are you comparing the right ones? There are 2 in each photo. If the photos were indeed taken on the same day, I wonder why the soldier scrunched his cap in one and fluffed it in the other.

La Nightingail said...

Lots of fun here and even if they aren't holding instruments, they still have them. Their voices! You can bet your bippie those buddies sang a few ditties whilst sitting around happily swilling beer! :)

Barbara Rogers said...

How fun...and I'm so glad you got the second photo of mostly the same gang!

Mollys Canopy said...

I admire your technique of breaking a large group photo into its component parts, as done here and in previous posts. Even though I know you regularly do this, I am fooled every time into thinking you are showing separate photos -- until the large group shot appears at the end. I am fascinated by the Bavarian pipe because I have German ancestors who immigrated to the U.S. from that region.

Kristin said...

The soldiers in your photos seem to be having a very good time compared to the trio in the prompt photo. Wonder if they all made it through the war in one piece.

Kathy Morales said...

I've found one other match - the man with the curled up mustache. I'll have to look for more. Certainly a fun pair of photographs.

Susan Kelly said...

Lots of joie de vie this week! I love their facial expressions.

Alan Burnett said...

Image analysis at its very best. You take looking at old photos to a different level, Mike - and take your readers along with you. And in addition to all that, the photographs centre on beer - no finer subject.


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