German Military Music of the DDR…

Although our professional German Archive is predominantly Third Reich/Nazi-era based, we do also try to balance the whole picture of German military music as much as possible and so try encompass the whole story on either side of the 12 years of the Third Reich, right back in fact to just before the First World War and right up until the Fall of The Berlin Wall 1989 that led to the subsequent reunification of the two Germanys.

Indeed my book, The Military Music & Bandsmen of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich 1933-1945, takes the genesis of German military music right back to its inception in Turkey in the Middle Ages, so steeped in history is this wonderful music; however for the audio side of German Archive our CDs run the musical gamut from  around 1910 up to1989 and the end of Communist East Germany.

In fact the DDR was created on October 11th 1949 with a new Parliament sited in East Berlin and a new Nationale Volksarmee, whose musical requirements were provided by Staff (Stabsmusikkorps) & Line bands (Musikkorps). 21 Musikkorps were eventually established: from Berlin’s Zentrales Orchester and Stabsmusikkorps und Spielmannszug der Stadtkommandantur Berlin down to 19 Musikkorps across 4 branches of East Germany’s military service.

Stabsmusikkorps Kommandantur Berlin was the designated army band for the Wachregiment ‘Friedrich Engels’, undertaking all military functions at Schönefeld Airport and in the City of Berlin, whilst ‘officially non-military’ ceremonies involving Western dignitaries were undertaken by the orchestra of the ‘non-NVA’ Ministry of State Security’s crack unit tasked with defence of the Communist Party, the Wachregiment ‘Feliks Dzierzynski’.

The Army (Landstreitkräfte) had a Stabsmusikkorps and 8 Musikkorps, the Air Force & Air Defence Arm (Luftstreitkräfte und Luftverteidigung), a Stabsmusikkorps and a Musikkorps, the Navy (Volksmarine) 1 Stabsmusikkorps & 2 Musikkorps and the Border Troops (Grenztruppen) 1 Stabsmusikkorps & 3 Musikkorps and, to fulfil the state’s political demands, the ‘Erich-Weinert Ensemble’ was established in 1950 as an ‘artistic institution of the NVA’.

Many former-Wehrmacht ‘founding fathers’ of East German military music had served under Air Force Head of Music Prof. Husadel and that exciting Luftwaffe feel could still be heard in the superb post-war performances of Berlin’s elite Volkspolizei band, the Zentrales Orchester des MdI, (Ministerium des Innern), notable for its pre-‘45 strident janissary beat with distinctive high-pitched twirls and embellishments of the woodwind section’s clarinets & piccolos!

DDR Musikkorps details were a state secret and a band would often appear, record an album and disappear into the mists, leaving East German military music as something of an enigma during the days of the Cold War; but Tomahawk Films are pleased to release this exciting and definitive mix of new & old marches in the true German military tradition, including the unique sound of the Kamfpgruppen, (Communist Territorial Army), playing the Schalmei, distinctive multi horn instruments evoking memories of the Nazi & Communist street fighting days of the 1930s.

Thanks to our friends at Imperial & post-war German military music specialists, Eagle & Lyre, Tomahawk was able to acquire the rights to 18 incredibly stirring and rare military musical tracks which are featured on our CD: The Marches & Korpslieder of East Germany’s Elite Musikkorps 1949 – 1989.

Included is the very moving East German National Anthem, (at which no pre-1989 Olympic Ceremony was ever complete), and a secret and slightly eerie live recording of the Wachregiment ‘Friedrich Engels’ changing the guard at Strausberg Barracks…!

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2013

Festung Alderney 1940-45…

For many years just hearing the mere mention of the island of Alderney was enough to send a slight shiver down my spine….. as a young Third Reich history student I had always regarded this tiny Channel Island, lying just off the French coast, to be a cold, bleak outcrop of rock jutting out from an inhospitable sea – the perfect setting for the only Nazi concentration camp ever to be constructed on British soil during the Second World War. My fevered imagination had played out all sorts of awful scenes on that far flung ‘island of terror’, the stuff of nightmares in fact!  But the reality in broad daylight could not have been further from my idea of the truth..!

The most northerly of the small group of British Islands, and measuring just 3.5 miles long by 1.5 miles at its widest, Alderney lies eight miles off the French Cotentin peninsula and, home to a small population of just over 2,000, is a place of truly outstanding, desolate beauty! This surprising revelation hit me in the late 1980s when I was doing the groundwork for my 50′ tv documentary ‘Channel Islands Occupied’ and had just set foot on the island for the very first time after a 15 minute flight from nearby Guernsey, a mere 24 miles away.

With the early Autumn sun glinting off a deep-blue, wave-flecked English Channel, my tiny 16-seater aircraft had banked sharply on its final approach to give me an impressive panoramic view of this incredible little island and my first sight of some of the concrete fortifications of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’  that were abandoned and left to nature after the German garrison surrendered without a shot being fired in May 1945.

Since that first introduction to the ancient and historic Bailiwick of Guernsey’s tiny sister island, I have come to fall deeply in love with Alderney’s untouched, tranquil beauty and to understand and appreciate the sheer variety of its myriad fortifications that have protected this vulnerable outpost down through the centuries.

The Germans were not the first to fortify this island – in fact the most prolific examples of defensive positions were actually built in Victorian & pre-Victorian times: stunning stone forts that have been studied in depth by island residents Dr Trevor Davenport & Colin Partridge. Both experts on the German defences, these two academics have faithfully documented Alderney’s stunning range of fortifications from the period 1940-45, back to the mid 1770s and their publications on these incredible edifices makes for fascinating reading.

For the committed WW-II German ‘bunker hunter’ or Victorian fortifications ‘buff’  then the real beauty of Alderney is that, apart from being a mere 40 minutes flying time from the UK mainland, you don’t actually need a car when you arrive. St Anne, the islands’ pretty little town, can actually be reached on foot from the tiny airstrip in about 15 minutes, whilst the island itself with its high cliffs in the south-west and its flat sandy beaches up at the north-east, is very much walkable in much less than a day.

The wide, open spaces also mean that the majority of the fortifications, both German & Victorian, are readily accessible to view and some to clamber over, with the right clothing and a torch. In fact some twenty-three years or so on from my original film, I never tire of rambling round Alderney, taking in the Victorian forts of Ile de Raz, Tourgis & Clonque and the impressive German anti-tank wall at Longis Bay, the enormous gun emplacements of the marine-artillery gun emplacements at Annes Batterie and the haunting and evocative MP3 naval direction-finding tower dominating the sky-line at Mannez.

Unlike the remainder of the Channel Islands, Alderney was cleared of its local population after the relatively bloodless occupation of this British territory in the summer of 1940. This civilian evacuation was the prelude to the impending fortification, resulting in Alderney joining with the other islands to eventually become the most heavily fortified part of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’ and a natural extension of the Fuehrer’s grand plan for ‘Festung Europa’ (Fortress Europe).

In 1938 the ‘Organisation Todt’ (set up under Dr Fritz Todt to oversee the production of Hitler’s massive autobahn construction programme), was tasked with fortifying Germany’s western border. Between 1938 and the outbreak of war in 1939, this para-military body built over 400 miles of defences comprising 14,000 individual concrete bunkers & emplacements along the so-called ‘West Wall’.

Following the invasion of France and the Battle of Britain, Hitler decided in December 1941 to fortify the entire coastline from Denmark down to France’s border with Spain, and it was the O.T. that was put in charge of this massive ‘Atlantic Wall’  building programme. By mid-1943 this enormous body, bolstered by forced-labour from the occupied countries across Europe, had grown to over half a million strong.

In the wake of the occupation of the Channel Islands in that beautiful summer of 1940 Alderney, along with Guernsey,Jersey and to a lesser degree Sark, were initially fortified to a limited degree by army combat engineers. However, following Hitler’s fortification decree of 1941, it was realised that that the army would not be able to cope on its own, so the Organisation Todt moved in with the role of permanently fortifying the islands and providing the coastal defences capable of providing cover for German shipping routes along the western coast of France, from St Malo to the Cotentin peninsula. Flak Artillery was provided by the Luftwaffe whilst coastal defence was to be undertaken by army & marine-artillery units under the control of the Kriegsmarine.

Whilst the two main islands of Guernsey & Jersey retained much of their local population, despite a fairly high level of pre-German occupation evacuation to mainland Britain, on Alderney from 1941 onwards the civilian population was all but replaced by the constant inward flow of German manpower, plus the military hardware and building material required to turn this small island into a fortress. Aided by the construction of a huge jetty down in the harbour, (originally destined for use as part of an artificial harbour for ‘Operation Sealion’ – the aborted invasion of mainland Britain), the original military garrison of 450 assorted personnel in 1941 was to eventually grow to over 3,000 by 1944, whilst the German labourers of the OT, boosted by forced-labourers from as far afield as Russia, would bring the total war-time occupation force on Alderney to some 7,000.

Most Wehrmacht personnel were either billeted in St Anne or alternated between hutted accommodation constructed around their flak coastal batteries or underground in their heavily reinforced, wood-lined concrete crew-quarters that made up a part of the complex maze of bunkers & slit-trenches surrounding each fortified position.  However in early 1942 a priority was given to house the influx of German O.T. workers & forced-labourers which resulted in four specific camps being constructed within a six-month period by a volunteer force of French workmen who arrived on the island in January 1942.

Each was named after a North Sea island: ‘Helgoland’ at Platte Saline, ‘Nordeney’ at Saye Bay, ‘Borkum’ at the Haize and ‘Sylt’ on edge of the grass air-strip, (disabled to deter Allied landings), and ‘Lager Sylt’’  which was eventually handed over to 1.SS Bau-Brigade. This SS Construction Unit took charge of the Russian forced labourers previously under O.T. control so becoming the only SS-run concentration camp on British soil.

Unfortunately many salacious and fanciful stories concerning the fate of these Russian workers at the hands of their SS guards have magnified themselves over the years, whilst the real truth regarding the terrible conditions that some of those wretched workers endured under such SS rule has been shrouded in mystery, compounded by a lack of surviving witnesses and the fact that the SS destroyed the camp before the German occupation came to an end in 1945.

What is known is that by 1943 all four camps housed between 3 & 4 thousand volunteer & forced-labourers and at least 330 of these workers died or were killed during the fortifying process, including many of the Russians who were subsequently buried in make-shift graves on Longis Common. Following the German surrender in May 1945, ‘Bunny’ Pantcheff, a British officer in military intelligence, (and a former peace-time visitor to Alderney), was sent to the island to conduct a full enquiry into any German ‘mis-deeds’ and his compelling summary was later turned into a small paperback book entitled Alderney Fortress Island’ in 1981.

As the long shadows of history now fall gently across this breathtakingly beautiful Channel Island, the welcome visitor, armed with a map from the small tourist office in town, will find it possible to locate many of the German and Victorian fortifications that still dominate the scenery – even the former gate-posts to SS-Lager Sylt stand alone & forlorn by the side of the now tarmac airstrip, as an accusing testament to what awful deeds may have taken place within the camp perimeter those many years ago.

Standing looking at these innocent gate-posts today or indeed standing atop some of the huge coastal bunkers or amidst the  massive gun emplacements up on the cliffs I must admit that even in such beautiful location as this, a slight tingle still runs up my spine as I take in the haunting atmosphere and think back over 70 years to Adolf Hitler’s forces occupying this small, but heavily fortified outpost of the British Empire and wonder… what if mainland Britain had actually been next..?

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2013

Die Musikkorps der Wachbataillonen-Berlin…

Some while ago several Tomahawk Films’ customers contacted us, actually with the same query, regarding a new CD that had been released in the US which they had bought, purporting to be a compilation of military music tracks all performed by the band of the army’s elite Regiment, ‘Grossdeutschland’, (the army’s Wachbataillon during the era of the Third Reich)… but were bit confused when they discovered that this album also contained a number of tracks performed by the Luftwaffe’s Wachbataillon as well, and should this be the case..?

Despite not having heard this album myself, nevertheless from the track listings & credits read out to me over the ‘phone, my personal thoughts were, ‘absolutely not’..! The ‘Grossdeutschland’ was the army’s Berlin-based Wachbataillon or Honour Guard only, (as well as being the Wehrmacht’s elite combat unit in the field), whilst the Luftwaffe’s Wachbataillon was a totally separate elite Honour Guard belonging to Herman Goering’s powerful German Air Force so providing some of the best Luftwaffe musik ever heard in the capital.. thus being a case of: ‘never the twain shall meet’..!

However, it was certainly the case that from time-to-time certain military musicians within the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS Musikkorps did actually change their arm of service and transfer over to another Musikkorps, if a suitable musical vacancy came up within another regimental band or orchestra… and very often this was directly as the result of a Situations Vacant advertisement posted for the player of a certain required instrument in the pages of the German entertainment magazine ‘Variety’.

But such a move would be deemed a complete change of uniform & service regulations as these career-musicians were joining a completely new branch of the German Armed Forces: so as far as the ‘Grossdeutschland’s’ superb band was concerned, its full-time professional musicians may have moved in and out on odd occasions, but it was always an Army Musikkorps, and in turn the Luftwaffe Musikkorps stayed completely separate as an Air-Force military band..!

So I have to agree with those callers in that whilst this American-produced ‘Grossdeutschland’ CD offers some military music tracks performed by the Army’s elite Honour Guard Musikkorps, to then also include other tracks performed by the Luftwaffe’s Honour Guard does seem a little erroneous..!

I must admit our Production Office ‘phone only started ringing with these customer queries after Tomahawk Films had produced & launched our specific Berlin Honour Guard CD which combines the performances by both of the capital’s elite Musikkorps of the Luftwaffe & Army Wachbataillonen… and thus its title Die Musikkorps der Wachbataillonen-Berlin…The Wehrmacht’s Elite Guard Detachments 1937-1945...as it contains an exciting blend of seven tracks performed by the Musikkorps der Wachbataillon ‘Grossdeutschland’ supported by six from the equally skilled Stabsmusikkorps Wachbataillon der Luftwaffe..

But this whole question of Berlin’s Honour Guards during the period of the Third Reich is a quite fascinating one, for it was actually in 1921 that Berlin’s first Guard Detachment since 1918 was created with the Reichswehr’s Kommando der Wachtruppe, together with a Musikkorps der Kommandantur-Berlin led by the very famous military Musikmeister: Friedrich Ahlers.

Tasked with Honour Guard duties at the Neue Wache, (or New Guard House), in Germany’s capital city, manpower for it was drawn on a rotational basis from army battalions across the country and with the coming of the Third Reich in 1933, it was re-named Wachtruppe-Berlin.

Nazi Germany then re-armed in 1935 and the Wehrmacht was subsequently created and with it, a new three-battalion Wachregiment-Berlin came into being in 1937, with the band re-designated Musikkorps der Wachregiment und Kommandantur-Berlin and whilst peacetime military bands averaged 28-38 musicians, this elite army band now boasted some 48 members.

Nazi Germany’s new Air Force was also created in 1935 and a similar Luftwaffe Wachbataillon, tasked with guarding Goering’s Berlin Air Ministry, also found itself deputing, once a week, for the army as it stood in for the Wachregiment as the Wehrmacht’s Guard Detachment at the Neue Wache.

Meantime, Luftwaffe Inspector of Music, Prof. Hans-Felix Husadel had appointed the highly talented Stabsmusikmeister Hans Teichmann to head and lead a new Stabsmusikkorps der Wachbataillon der Luftwaffe which was only too eager to show off its prowess and panache at many open-air concerts around the Capital and also to the massed German audiences via the Sunday night Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht radio shows.

In addition, this superb Air Force military band was also an important staple of Germany’s wider commercial music industry and regularly recorded at Telefunken’s famous Berlin studios with many subsequent schellack 78rpm recordings produced on their label actually surviving through to today, if you can hunt them down!

Meanwhile yet further changes came in April 1939 with the army’s Wachregiment, still under the direction of Stabsmusikmeister Friedrich Ahlers, being renamed Infanterie Regiment ‘Grossdeutschland’ and its band, the Stabsmusikkorps der Wachbataillon Infanterie Regiment ‘Grossdeutschland’ und Kommandantur-Berlin; (rather unwieldy and something of a real mouthful, so not surprisingly many record labels simply shortened the name to simply Musikkorps ‘Grossdeutschland’..!)

At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, many Wehrmacht & Waffen-SS bands were disbanded ‘for the duration’ and the musicians transferred to their war-time roles of radio operator, despatch rider or combat-medic. However, the army’s prized Musikkorps Infanterie Regiment ‘Grossdeutschland’ (along with just two other elite bands, Musikkorps SS-Leibstandarte ‘Adolf Hitler’ & Musikkorps 12.SS-Panzerdivision ‘Hitlerjugend’), remained in operational… and in fact played almost up until war’s end in May 1945.

Today, some nearly 70 years on from their last performances, it was a real pleasure, (and another yet another fascinating history lesson), to produce & re-master Tomahawk’s Wachbataillonen-Berlin CD which, in my humble opinion, contains some of the very best Third Reich musicianship so expertly performed by the leading military performers of the day….just superb!!

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012

Tomahawk’s CD Covers – Pt 2

Over the years, as a full-time professional German sound & vision archive we have put a great deal of thought into the selection of the CD & DVD covers we produce for the Tomahawk Films’ WW-II German Archive range of products and, aided & abetted, by our very talented team of printers & graphic designers, many of them feature some seriously striking black & white original German images that are, again, taken directly from original German WW-II military music-related photos in our archive.

Such evocative covers that our production team enjoyed designing include Reitermaersche -The Cavalry Music of the Third Reich and the Lieder der Sturm-Abteilung und Hitlerjugend, which utilised some of our exciting period photographs, so too with the Instrumental Marches of Hitler’s Elite Musikkorps & Musikschulen CD, which features a  very rare photo of a Belgian Waffen-SS clarinettist from the ‘Westland’ Musikkorps.

We’ve worked hard over the last 25–plus years we have been in this business to develop a distinctive ‘house style’ and our very noticeable ‘Tomahawk Films Red’ colour scheme, (as it is now known in local professional printing circles), has really become something of an international trademark down through the years..that and the fact that our audio CD releases are only ever released in smart, fully-tailored cardboard sleeves or slip-cases..!

We have often been asked by customers why we do that and not use ‘standard plastic outers’ that you buy your High Street CDs in? Well the answer is quite simple: to try to combat piracy..!

Sadly the only downside of Tomahawk Films’ global success in this archival field, (and the bane of our life!), is that our hard-sourced & expensively re-edited audio material makes us a targeted company for the ne’er-do-wells and as such most, if not all of our music, (at least, though very probably our DVDs as well), is now widely pirated around the world from Russia to America and from Latin-America to the Far East… but most pirates save their own money and simply colour-photocopy our covers and slide them, along with their home-computer-copied CDs, into plastic jewel cases..!

It obviously too much like hard work and is far too costly for them to go to the trouble of doing a ‘proper job’ and printing a professional slip-case card-board cover as we do, (though one very well-known US pirate has given it a good go..thanks bud! )… so when you buy a Tomahawk Films’ original factory-produced Musik CD,  (whether from us or from one of our official dealer friends), and it comes in the striking Red & Black Tomahawk cardboard slip-cover you can, (usually 9 times out of 10) be assured that, for the most-part, you are buying ‘the real deal’..!

If in doubt by all means contact us and we’d be happy to confirm if the dealer/on-line shop you are thinking of buying from is one of our official dealer-friends & partners… if they aren’t, then sadly it’s a good chance it’s ‘duff’’. Incidentally, at the moment we do not sell on Amazon-US, just an official presence on Amazon.co.uk, if that gives you a clue..?

In America our original Tomahawk Film’s products are only ever represented by our good friends at International Historic Films in Chicago and The Military Issue in Minneapolis.. though we are in negotiations with a new company that would like to represent us at selected US Arms Fairs, which could be interesting…

…. and whilst on the subject of ne’er-do-wells, if it is helpful for you to know, we do not offer Tomahawk Film’s WW-II German Archival downloads anywhere in the world… so even if an on-line company states it is a ‘legal down-load company’, (as it would do!), if it is ‘Tomahawk Films’ material that you see or hear being offered to you as ‘free streaming’ or as a digital download, then it is most definitely illegal, probably low quality.. and they have absolutely no licences issued by us to do so..!!!

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012

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

Battle of Britain Movie Soundtrack…

One of the regular questions, (or perhaps that should be requests), Tomahawk Films receive from our customers is: “do we have the fantastic ‘Battle of Britain’ opening track as featured in the 1969, Guy Hamilton-directed movie?”…and those self-same customers are always amazed or shocked, (usually in equal number), to learn that this ‘original march’, is actually nothing to do with the  pre-1945 Luftwaffe and was in fact a superb piece of modern composition by the English musical film-score composer Ron Goodwin, who actually penned this march especially for the movie…

Far from being performed by an original  Luftwaffe Musikkorps, (for if you think about it, the Luftwaffe actually lost the Battle of Britain, so why would Hitler want a march to celebrate getting his backside kicked by ‘The Few’), this stirring march is in fact a perfect replication of a war-time German air force band; but just goes to show how talented a musician & composer Mr Goodwin was, for he was able to listen to, and professionally deconstruct, Luftwaffe music as created by the legendary Head of Luftwaffe music Musikinspizient Prof. Husadel and then actually write & create, from scratch, a stunning piece of military marching music that the majority now think was a Luftwaffe war-time original!.

Incidentally, the upside of  this ‘modern’ Battle of Britain March is that it is a fantastic way of discerning if the dealer you are buying ‘original’ German war-time music from actually ‘knows his stuff’ or is merely one of the many pirates. There are a number of American companies and individuals offering their ‘Luftwaffe musik’ and who proudly include this piece as The Battle of Britain Marsch, without the faintest idea that it is not an original German, but a post-war British composition.. so you can certainly play ‘spot the faker’ with this one.!

We do actually have a fantastic 4-minute research copy of the late Mr Goodwin’s track in our Archive and we contacted his estate to see if we could acquire the distribution rights to it, to be told the copyright was now owned by EMI. Sadly they have not responded to our polite request to promote it as an ‘interest piece’, so as it stands we can do nothing with this track without the correct permissions, (and I am not actually sure how we would market just a single track anyhow!)

However I am delighted to say that  if you are after one of the truly defining Luftwaffe tracks of the 1935-45 era, the superb Bomben auf Engeland, is on Tomahawk’s Musik der Luftwaffe CD, along with a number of other stirring & evocative Luftwaffe marches &  korpslieder).

This stunning piece of military music was composed by Norbert Schultze for the 1939 Tobis film ‘Feuertaufe’ (Baptism of Fire) which documented German air operations in the Polish campaign and was produced by a serving Luftwaffe pilot, the pre-war film director Hans Bertram..!

On its completion the documentary was shown to Hitler who was so ecstatic he ordered it to go on immediate release, but wanted a different tune from Pruessens Gloria (initially the movie’s final stirring track), and ordered a musical back-drop to reflect his next target: Britain..!

Hitler’s Navy had their signature tune: ‘Wir fahren gegen Engeland’ (on Tomahawk’s CD Musik der Kriegsmarine), and now The Fuehrer wanted his mighty Luftwaffe to also have their very own marching song,  thus Bomben auf Engeland became the new ending for this fantastic piece of Luftwaffe propaganda-documentary film-making and another German military-song legend was born… not long before Hitler’s Air Arm would face its first defeat… and at the hands of the Royal Air Force!

Copyright @ Brian Matthews 2012