Third Reich Military Concerts…

During the years of the Third Reich 1933-1945, public concerts & radio performances given by the military orchestras and bands of the elite Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS Musikkorps, particularly by Adolf Hitler’s Bodyguard Division band, the Leibstandarte-SS, were very much a feature of civilian life in both pre-war & war-time Germany and as such were deemed a vitally important part of the propaganda morale-boosting of the German Home Front…

The co-ordination of these  important social and inherently propaganda events came under the control of the ‘Kraft durch Freude’ (Strength through Joy) organisation, a department of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront that oversaw and promoted public entertainment and holidays for the people throughout the Third Reich.

So it was that this KdF organisation took responsibility for promoting all of the pre-war military concert tours that regularly took place right across Greater Germany, plus all of the major musical events staged by the elite bands of theSS-Leibstandarte ‘Adolf Hitler’ and the Wehrmacht’s leading Musikkorps, such as the ‘Grossdeutschland’ Musikkorps within Berlin’s Wachbataillonen...

When rostered to perform concerts in public as part of their normal everyday military service, Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS soldier-musicians were governed by either the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or the SS Reichsführung Hauptamt, and were paid in exactly the same manner as ordinary enlisted personnel, which was once every ten days at the rate of 25 Pfennig per day.

However, when they were booked to perform at a specifically-staged high profile concert or national event… or were out ‘on the road’ on tour across Germany for the Kraft durch Freude organisation, a separate deal would be struck directly with the Musikkorps in question, which proved to be a very valuable source of additional private income for all of the musicians involved…

Permission would be sought of the band’s unit commander by the KdF organisation to perform, and a fee of some 5% of the concert or event takings would be paid directly into the unit’s military account; thereafter, pay for the performers was carefully divided up, with the conductor/band-leader earning three shares and each individual musician, regardless of his rank, earning one share apiece…

It was not always possible for the full band line-ups to appear, however strict band rotas were operated to try to make sure that all the band’s musicians received the opportunity to play at these outside concerts and earn a little extra, and to ensure that musicians were specifically selected for certain concerts according to their required musical skills.Indeed the Musikkorps of the SS-Leibstandarte ‘Adolf Hitler’ had, within its line-up of musicians, a superb dance-band (right) that was always in demand to perform at private parties for the well-to-do in and around the German capital, Berlin…

By way of further prospects for additional earnings over and above their normal military pay, all of the top Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS military orchestras in fact were also readily available (and much encouraged by their separate High Commands) to perform at private functions, weddings, family celebrations and myriad gatherings laid on by senior ministers, dignitaries, government officials and the military Top Brass.. an opportunity these highly-trained, professional musicians never missed when offered… their day-to-day military duties permitting. of course!

All Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS Musikkorps performances that were tightly organised and overseen by the Kraft durch Freude, also included those live performances broadcast on Greater German radio, such as the most important Sunday night Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht, (Request Concert for the Armed Forces, broadcast from Reichssender Berlin).

In addition the KdF also took on overall responsibility for organising the regular professional studio-recording sessions that many of the leading Musikkorps, (such as the Musikkorps LAH & ‘Grossdeutschland’) had with the leading German music labels, including Telefunken, Electrola, HMV & Gloria, where these varied musical activities would also result in a similar division of additional pay amongst the participating musicians, plus vital contributions to the individual band’s military fund…

           Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2014

Tomahawk’s New 2-CD Sets…

November 2012 saw us back in the studio again, this time re-editing our previously very well known 6-CD Presentation Sets: The Military Music of the Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich and Wunschkonzert fuer die Wehrmacht, down to a pair of exciting and very comprehensive & much tighter 2-CDs sets.  This came in the wake of a number of previous comments over the years from customers wondering if they could buy just one or two CDs from the larger sets; sadly this was not viable as the larger sets came pre-sealed from the factory and we could not break them up to sell individual discs.

However realising that in the current financial climate asking over £70 for a 6-CD set, all in one hit, was just too much…and as it was never our original intention to produce or market such large CD sets…we were delighted to go back into studio with engineer ‘Woody’ and think again..!

Originally Tomahawk Films’ German Musik arm grew from our original inception in 1987 when we moved sideways from our full-time, front-line television & radio jobs to form a specialist World Two TV documentary production company from which the actual German music sound-tracks were, at first, literally just a production bolt-on as a soundtrack..however they slowly started to take on more significance for us and very much became a direct interest and focal point in their own right…

Our eventual first German military music album release, (on cassette) actually came about as a result of customers starting to contact us asking if those former sound-tracks to our documentaries they had bought, (back then on video),  were also available to buy as a separate stand-alone item..? Which they weren’t… but as we had previously acquired the music rights we thought we‘d release a cassette, primarily just as a favour to those that asked ..and if we were lucky we might possibly sell a handful…

A handful..?  That single cassette sold in its thousands, and not only directly to customers but the collecting & militaria trade as well…so then we went back to the Archive and acquired some more tracks…and that production also sold in equally large numbers and though way back then we did not have the archival German musical knowledge we have now, we started to gradually find ourselves becoming more & more involved with this wonderful and most evocative of Nazi-era music:

In the ensuing years, we went on to produce & market a further 12 cassettes of Third Reich/Nazi-era military & civilian music: The Military Music of Hitler’s’ Reich series, the Musik der Leibstandarte-SS ‘Adolf Hitler’, (our biggest ever seller), and the Wunschkonzert series, all of which slowly grew and evolved into two rather attractive looking boxed sets..and all titles continued to be massive sellers, (both as individual cassettes and the complete sets) up to and including our transfer over to CD in the period around 1999 and 2000.

During this period we realised we were on to something and so began to cut back on our direct television & radio work and slowly move over to music production & archival re-mastering… and not only were collectors buying from us in great numbers but our film & television colleagues were also now acquiring our Nazi-era music for use on the sound-tracks of their documentaries & movies, which you can see from Tomahawk’s list of Movie & TV Credits.

However as far as our releases on cassette were concerned, we resisted the changeover to CDs for a long while, (mainly because our customers still liked the cassette format back then and were also resistant to change), but eventually we had to succumb to technological pressure. So it was that these multi-episodic cassette releases were then re-edited & re-mastered across to CD back in the recording studio at Dubmaster, with the inimitable ‘Woody’ again driving the studio desk on our behalf…and we have continued grow and to sell not only our individual CD titles in ever increasing numbers round the globe since then,  but also what then had become the more expensive sealed 6-CD sets.

But as I have just alluded to, as times are currently getting tougher on all fronts, Tomahawk Films thinks it unfair to expect our long-suffering customers to still part with nearly £70 of their ‘hard earned’ in one go for a 6-CD set, we thought long & hard about which of the best tracks from each 6-CD set we should transfer over to the two new 2-CD sets.

Happily, after another most enjoyable brain-storming session in the studio last month, we are very pleased to announce the launch of the new slim-lined, but oh so tight, 2-CD sets, The Military Music of Adolf Hitler’s Military Music Presentation Volumes I & II and the very evocative Wunschkonzert fuer die Wehrmacht Presentation Volumes I & II… and I have to admit we are all very excited with what we have produced…much more exciting, when you consider you have the best of each set across just two CDs… and at a much lower cost..!

I really wish I had thought to re-master these earlier, but as I have a philosophy  that ‘everything has its right time’, obviously late Autumn 2012 was correct time for this decision…and knowing our fantastic customers as we do, I feel, the much more ‘punchier’ 2-CD sets now available from Tomahawk Films will really entertain our Third Reich-era Musik collectors even more… Enjoy!!

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012