Memories of The World at War…

Somehow I just knew that mentioning the fabulous television series World at War would stir some happy memories amongst fellow collectors & students of German military music as for ‘my generation’ it was most probably the first time that most of us had any real or exciting exposure to this incredibly powerful music…but I wonder if any of us knew back then where it might lead us..?

Certainly I had absolutely no idea it would eventually point me towards a professional career as both a producer, and thence historian, within this exciting field of endeavour, for way back then my only goal was to actually to become a War Correspondent, (though now they are more politely referred to as ‘Foreign Correspondents’)… but as my good mates often joke, “you are a War Correspondent, Bri, it is just that it’s World War Two that you report on..!”..and they do have a point!

But back to the World at War and my subsequent post-television career within the field of Third Reich/Nazi-era music, most happily it has led me to some very strong & greatly valued e-mail friendships made across the Atlantic with fellow enthusiasts in North America; and in a response to my last posting here on the Tomahawk Films’ Blog by one of those good collector-pals ‘State-side’, I was reminded of just how many of us similarly came to the collecting world of Germanic military music, ostensibly via that stunning TV series..

I then thought that, with his kind permission, I might share a part of his e-mail with you as I am sure a number of other collectors out there will smile and instantly recognise the trip he also made to becoming a collector & enthusiast, and thence in his own right, something of an expert on pre-1945 German military drums and the beautiful Schwallbennesten (or Swallowsnests), that all Third Reich/Nazi-era military & Para-military bandsmen & musicians used to sport).

So here is just a taste of the early part of his particular collecting journey….

“The World At War series is what started me on collecting Third Reich music.. and in particular the sequence on ‘Operation Barbarossa’ that started off with the marching song: ‘Wenn die Soldaten durch die Stadt marschieren’.

That song, along with Wenn wir Marschieren from the same episode, ‘sealed my fate” as far as collecting music-related items was concerned as I remember how, towards the end of the episode, they played that track while showing German casualties & destroyed armour, except this time they added reverb & delay, giving it an almost haunting, ghost-like sound; something you so greatly did on Tomahawk’s ‘Channel Islands Occupied’ TV documentary which I think was towards the end, as they were singing “Erika”… 

Back then there were only a few record-albums of Third Reich songs about and I think they were simply entitled Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine, (though there may have been one or two more), plus the sound-track to the Third Reich propaganda movie ‘Triumph of the Will’.  Of course the few that I did manage to find didn’t have those songs on and I had no idea there were actually a huge amount of war-time recordings, instead thinking that the “greatest hits of the German Army” would be contained on just those few albums..!

Of course, several years later I picked up a cassette-tape at a Gun Show only to find out that those songs were actually part of a post war potpourri recorded by, (I think), a West German military band…. but then, several years later, while paging through a Military Modelling magazine, I came across this company called ‘Tomahawk Films’ who were offering several cassette tapes of Third Reich songs and……. well, you know the rest of the story..!

Amazing how those two songs cost me so much money, but also led to some great friends here and over the pond’ ..!!!!

This very welcome overnight reponse from a  good friend to my previous posting on The World at War has made me wonder just how many of our other collector friends & valued customers around the globe may have had a similar early experience in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s; that of scrabbling around trying to find original 78rpm schellack or 33/3 vinyl post-war recordings of Third Reich/Nazi-era records to match what they had just heard on the sound-tracks of that ground-breaking The World at War television series..?  Happy Days!

           Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012

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