SS bands in "Triumph des Willens" (Reichsparteitag 1934)

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mty
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SS bands in "Triumph des Willens" (Reichsparteitag 1934)

Post by mty » 04 Jul 2005 10:29

[Split from Hermann Müller-John & Musikkorps der Leibstandarte-SS "Adolf Hitler"]

Hm...could the man who goose-stepped funny way (a LAH band leader) in Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will have been this Müller-John? Sorry, I don't have any screencaps of the event yet but I'm pretty sure you know what I am referring to.

I'm not sure if there were two different band-leaders in Triumph of the Will? When the LAH band marches in (people turn to watch them), there's a man who looks a bit younger and has no moustache compared to another, who leads a smaller group of drummers and goose-steps in front of them very funny looking way, like a rocket :)

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Post by Ivan Ž. » 29 Jun 2007 15:44

Hello, Mikko

It appears that there were three LSSAH music leaders in "Triumph des Willens":

a drum major...
TdW1.jpg
...another drum major...
TdW2.jpg
...and the bandleader, Hermann Müller-John
TdW3.jpg
Cheers,
Ivan
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Post by mty » 04 Oct 2007 14:56

I think that the officer in the photo nr. 3 is indeed H. Müller-John: his face seems very similar to that. The NCO leading the bugler squad might be Gustav Weissenborn since he was the deputy of Müller-John as LSSAH band leader. The goose-stepping fellow would most probably have been a drum major where the NCO would have lead the buglers and Müller-John would have acted as the head of orchestra for their performance for TDW and Reichsparteitag.

The following is quoted from an old post by Timo:
The Musikkorps of the LSSAH was formed on 04.08.1933, 36 musicians under "command" of SS-Hauptsturmführer Hermann Müller-John. In 1934 the orchestra was expanded to 72 men, selected on musical, health and racial qualifications. In the end the korps had a Sollstärke of 108 Musiker, but actual strength was 96 men. Musical education took place at the Staatl. Hochschule für Musik and in several Konservatorien, military training (parade training) took place together with I./LAH under command of Truppführern Plöw and Schmidl. Info about several concerts is given, if you're interested.
Let's see. In 1933: 36 men. In 1934 (no date specified but we can assume that it was done before the Reichsparteitag and Riefenstahl's filming!), 72 men. Also two "new" names are mentioned: Plöw and Schmidl, who were responsible of parade training. That might mean that they were ex-Reichswehr infantry NCOs familiar with parade procedures but they might also have been directly part of the Musikkorps and thus the drum major in question could have been one of the two. I am not very familiar with the usual structure of German military bands but most of them had at least the band leader (musikmeister/officer) and an NCO acting as a drum major. A band with a personnel strength of 72 would almost certainly have required more NCOs to lead the smaller sections within the band - such as buglers and corps of drums.

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Post by Tintin1689 » 01 Nov 2007 19:51

Gentlemen,

I do hope I can be of some assistance to you, my knowledge of the SS is a bit feeble, but of military bands more extensive.

You need to distinguish between the Regimental Band (of which Müller John was the head as bandmaster) and the flute band which would be headed by the drum major. The former would be men recruited as bandsmen (hoboisten) whose primary task was making music and who would form part of RHQ, the latter in the German Army and Waffen SS were drawn from the rifle companies at a scale of 2 drummer and 2 fluters per company they bore the appointment of bugler (hornisten) and their primary task was to act as buglers and infantry soldiers. Each battalion would have a battalion drum major (batallionstambour) and there would be a Regimental drum major in charge of the lot (Regimentstambour)

On parade the band will almost always turn out all the bandsmen who can be mustered. In the German forces if troops were paradingonly the drummers and fluters from the companies on parade would turn out. From the footage we can see that at least 5 companies of the LSSAH are on parade.

The Drum Major will march in front with the flute band (spielmannszug/spielleute) behind him. The Regimental Band march behind, with the bandmaster and the schellenbaum (which is the flag of the band) in the intervening space. The Bundeswehr changed this, but the NVA paraded in the traditional fashion. The band and flute band usually played turn and turn about. The drum major held his stick inverted and beat time as he marched, he also signalled drill movement with it and used it to salute when marching past (he would not carry his staff, which was often a valuable presentation item, in the field but use instead his bugle. The bandmaster only conducted with his baton when the band was static or moving back into column of route after having wheeled to the side of the road to march their troops by (which is what is happening in the film) - this was because during part of the drill move the bandsmen will have difficulty perceiving the drum major's signals.

So the gentleman with the orchestral baton is indeed most probably Müller John (if he bore the bandmaster appointment at this time) as it is very hard to believe the bandmaster would deputise his role on what was probably the most important parade in his band's calendar

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Post by dixiedrummer » 02 Nov 2007 00:36

Tintin1689,

Do you mean Flutes or Fifes? I thought with military infantry musicians, not bandsmen, each company was assigned 2 drummers and 2 fifers. The first band shown in Triumph of the Will is the infantry Fife and Drum corps correct? In a band Flutes and Fifes were used, but were flutes also used in the infantry music?

Tim

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Post by Tintin1689 » 02 Nov 2007 13:19

Hello Tim,

Nice to find someone else into drums and flutes

Technically we are both right as the fife is a keyless flute and the German infantry used a keyless flute up to 1945 and in the NVA as long as that body existed. A very good friend of mine has a collection of these. They are all wood or plastic imitation wood such as ebonite. The Bundeswehr switched to rather cheap and nasty looking metal keyless flute with plastic finger holes (they may even have gone to a one keyed flute). The flutes were all of one type so the music was usually melody line only, although there were some very good two part pieces.. There was a rich heritage of flute and drum marching music in the German forces which has been largely lost as it was seldom if ever recorded.

The German flutes/fifes also have less finger holes than the ones used by many US flute bands.Flute Bands in the British Army use keyed wooden flutes, as did, uniquely in the US forces, the 4th Marines.

The flutes in the band in those days in Germany were keyed wood/imitation wood versions of concert flutes and, incidentally, the clarinetists used two-piece "military" clarinets (which were used also in the British Army up to at least the fifties). These helped to contribute to the special sound of bands of this period.

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Post by Claymore » 06 Nov 2007 00:34

...the information provided here by 'Tintin1689' is certainly very knowledgeable and informative...

...I wonder if those who are interested in the placements of individual 'musiker' within a 'musikkorps', etc, know about this book:-

"Militärmusk In Geschichte und Gegenwart" by Dr. Peter Panoff

...below is a link to a copy already sold by USM Books....I have seen it available on other book sites, with different printing dates but all within the 3rd Reich period. Prices vary, usually around the 100 Euro (plus!) mark...

http://www.usmbooks.com/nazi_military_music_book.html

...it certainly appears the kind of book to help answer some of your questions...

Regards.

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Post by behemoth » 06 Nov 2007 19:21

Claymore wrote:"Militärmusk In Geschichte und Gegenwart" by Dr. Peter Panoff
Hello Claymore,

That is an interesting book, isn't it? Thanks for the link. I will keep an "eye out" for other examples.

Dave

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Post by kpp » 27 Apr 2008 09:31

Ivan Ž. wrote: ...another drum major...
Image
mty wrote: The NCO leading the bugler squad might be Gustav Weissenborn since he was the deputy of Müller-John as LSSAH band leader.
The NCO is perhaps Tambourmajor Herbert Borngräber. Born in 1911, he entered very early the Leibstandarte. My only problem is that in 1944, when he was killed near Rethel on transport to the Normandy front, he was Hauptscharführer while on this photo he is already Oberscharführer.

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Post by mty » 28 Apr 2008 09:26

kpp wrote: The NCO is perhaps Tambourmajor Herbert Borngräber.
Do you have photo of Borngräber? His name is completely new to me. It is not mentioned in the otherwise very comprehensive (and perhaps the only title in English of this subject) work of Brian Matthews.

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Post by kpp » 28 Apr 2008 18:17

mty wrote:Do you have photo of Borngräber?
Unfortunately I dont have any photo of him. I simply know from my father who was a friend of Borngräber in Berlin that he was Tambourmajor of the Leibstandarte. Unfortunately my father passed away several years ago, so I can no more show him the extract of Triumph of the Will in order to ask him if its definitely him. The wife of Borngräber passed away too, so no means either to ask her. As long as I know they had no children and I dont know if his sister is still alive, but I doubt.

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Re:

Post by Ehrenwacher » 25 May 2023 21:19

I don’t think the leader drum major was apart of the Leibstandarte band but apart of the SS-VT Musikkorps.

During the film you can see the band of what you’d assume to be the Leibstandarte band but it’s actually not.
TdW4.jpg

In this still frame you can see the collar tabs indicate that the troops are SS-VT and not LSSAH. One thing I could not identify what regiment it was but without a doubt they were SS-VT. They also have no decals on their helmets just like the SS-VT band.
TdW5.jpg

Here’s a picture of the final sequence where the Leibstandarte band marches out. You can see that there are decals on their helmet but in the first sequence the musicians don’t have any decals on their helmets. Another difference between the two is that the drummers and the fifers in the first sequence have these sacks on their backs but the LSSAH doesn’t.
TdW6.jpg
Source: Triumph des Willens
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Re:

Post by Ivan Ž. » 25 May 2023 21:21

Ah, yes, of course, thanks for the update. An outdated post. There were actually (at least) three SS bands there, as their Schellenbäume show in one of the earlier scenes. The aforementioned moustached drum major indeed belonged to one of the non-Leibstandarte ones.

An interesting little detail regarding "Triumph des Willens" and the Leibstandarte band, which as far as I can recall wasn't mentioned here so far, is that the band apparently recorded the marches for the film, at least those for the big parade scene (see for example this source and this source). Leni Riefenstahl actually describes in her memoirs the process of how the marches had to be recorded in different speeds for that scene because it was filmed by different cameramen, rolling in different speeds. She also stated that she herself took over the conductors' baton in the end, because it was too difficult for the conductor and the film composer (Windt) to follow the speed changes in the footage, which she, on the other hand, knew by heart. However, she didn't mention which band nor conductor were there; she only stated it was an 80-man orchestra.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re:

Post by Ehrenwacher » 25 May 2023 21:51

Thanks for the quick reply!

You might be right! From https://web.stanford.edu/class/ihum42/filmguide.pdf
TdW MD.jpg
Hermann Müller-John and the LSSAH Musikkorps credited for Music Dubbing!
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Re:

Post by Ivan Ž. » 25 May 2023 23:32

Thanks for the scan! So, with the two info combined (not exactly matching though), we can suspects that what we're listening to when watching the discussed "Badenweiler-Marsch" scene is the Leibstandarte band conducted by Leni Riefenstahl herself. The speed changes she mentioned are clearly noticeable there as well.

What also supports the info on the Leibstandarte band dubbing the music there is the fact that during the part with the march past of the SS, we see different units and bands and yet hear only two marches - both of the Leibstandarte! Müller-John's "Leibstandartenmarsch" and Fürst's "Badenweiler-Marsch" (their parade march). And there's no way that in reality another SS unit paraded to Leibstandarte's marches. So that music choice was likely a product of Müller-John's "artistic freedom". The moustached drum major in reality surely goose-stepped to a different march, than "Badenweiler-Marsch", as montaged in the movie (which is what created the confusion that he was a LAH drum major in the first place).

Cheers,
Ivan

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