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Remembered Today:

The Goose Step


PhilB
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The goose step (Der Stechschritt) is, or has been, used by a number of armies but tends to be associated with totalitarian regimes and especially Hitler`s Germany. It is apparently a difficult step to do well and often thought to be "damaging to the joints"! It seems to be Prussian in origin. Was it used by the German army of WW1 or any other army?

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Sep 12 2008, 02:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The goose step (Der Stechschritt) is, or has been, used by a number of armies but tends to be associated with totalitarian regimes and especially Hitler`s Germany. It is apparently a difficult step to do well and often thought to be "damaging to the joints"! It seems to be Prussian in origin. Was it used by the German army of WW1 or any other army?

Yes, it was. My father described to me special exercises that were performed to prepare the legs for doing the "goose step"; basically doing the step in extreme slow motion. It was akin to the "eyes right" in the US Army (British?), a form of salute. If an infantry unit was marching along, and an officer was approaching in the other direction, it was good form to initiate the goose step 12 paces from the officer(s), and cease when three paces past them. The way my father described it it seemed that it was really not obligatory, except, of course, at some parade or ceremony.

Bob Lembke

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There are many 1914 photographs in the 1933 book depicting the Prussian Guards etc;marching in this fashion

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Was it widespread in the German army then, or limited to Prussian regiments? Wiki says it was difficult to perfect due to loss of balance and that men trained by linking arms to maintain stability. It certainly looks impressive when done well. I`m not aware that any Empire forces ever entertained the step. We seem to have deemed it un-British, though at the time of its introduction, Britain & Germany were probably on friendly military terms.

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i`v seen pakistani and indian troops doing a version of this style of marching on the their border [in a very aggresive manner to each other] . they would have been empire troops then ,ww1 ??.

mike.

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i`v seen pakistani and indian troops doing a version of this style of marching on the their border [in a very aggresive manner to each other] . they would have been empire troops then ,ww1 ??.

mike.

But its introduction was post independence. Possibly picked up by military missions to the Soviet Union which used it on formal occasions. Sometimes with the rifle upright and balanced on one hand (which must have been incredibly difficult)

I have seen disparaging references to it in early 19th century literature where it is usually associated with Prussian parade grounds.

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An ancient memory has just been jogged loose. Years ago when studying European history I read that it was introduced by Fredrick the Great's dad (Fredrick William if memory serves aright) He was the one who collected very tall grenadiers as a hobby and introduced such inovations (if thats the right word) as loosened butt plates so as to make a satisfactory crash when muskets were grounded on parade, metal plates on boots (to give a much nicer heel click), strapping to keep the head back and chin up etc etc. so producing a very impressive parade ground army that was pretty useless for anything else - the man was a nut case. Fred the Great on ascending the throne discarded many of these distractions but the goose step seems to have survived.

Chile and N Korea are still exponents of the style.

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George Orwell, who I believe was a communist sympathizer, had a poor view of the goose step:-

Some, such as George Orwell, feel that the goose-step is also intended to look ridiculous, as Orwell said in his 1940 essay The Lion and the Unicorn:

[Goose-Stepping] is simply an affirmation of naked power; contained in it, quite consciously and intentionally, is the vision of a boot crashing down on a face. Its ugliness is part of its essence, for what it is saying is "Yes, I am ugly, and you daren't laugh at me", like the bully who makes faces at his victim… Beyond a certain point, military display is only possible in countries where the common people dare not laugh at the army.

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Hello Phil B,

I did read somewhere that in the dim and distant past, throughout Europe troops on a review march-past would do so in the 'slow time'. Then later this was changed to doing so in the 'quick time'.

Now, just try to imagine a Bn marching past using the drill of the slow march but at the quick time, other than the arms being still by the side, it would resemble the 'goose step'

Well, maybe not. just a thought.

Regards,

C.T.

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According to the eminent military historian Christopher Duffy in his entertaining survey 'The Military Experience in the Age of Reason': 'the notorious goose step was an unauthorised aberration on the part of some Prussian drillmasters which was eventually accepted as the parade step of the German army at the end of the nineteenth century'.(p112)

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Sep 13 2008, 02:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
George Orwell, who I believe was a communist sympathizer=- <snip>.

Read "Homage to Catalonia" and shatter your beliefs.

Also "1984".

And "Animal Farm".

Eric A. Blair no more "sympathised" with communism that FM Haig wanted to be a professional ballet dancer.

And now back to your regular programme - I used to have a goose as a pet. At no point did I recognise it's perambulations as being similar to the Prussian military, so who decided to call that particular method of marching as "goose step"?

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Eric A. Blair no more "sympathised" with communism that FM Haig wanted to be a professional ballet dancer.

The poor man just couldn't find a tutu that fitted and Kitchener wouldn't let him borrow his.

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Eric A. Blair no more "sympathised" with communism that FM Haig wanted to be a professional ballet dancer.

Perhaps it depends when we`re talking about:-

An anarchist in the late 1920s, in the 1930s he began to consider himself a socialist. In 1936 he was commissioned to write an account of poverty among unemployed miners in northern England, which resulted in 'The Road to Wigan Pier' (1937). Late in 1936, Orwell travelled to Spain to fight for the Republicans against Franco's Nationalists. He was forced to flee in fear of his life from Soviet-backed communists who were suppressing revolutionary socialist dissenters. The experience turned him into a lifelong anti-Stalinist.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figu...ll_george.shtml

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The last stanza of a poem, 'Mouth Organ', published in Punch, 1915, shows the term was known to the author.

(courtesy of Bob Pike)

Wet, 'ungry, thirsty, 'ot or cold, whatever may betide 'im,

'E'll play upon the 'ob of 'ell while the breath is left inside 'im;

And when we march up Potsdam Street an' goosestep through Berlin,

Why, Billy with 'is mouth-organ 'e'll play the Army in!

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Eric A. Blair no more "sympathised" with communism ...

It is possible to be attracted to the ideals of communism, but despise the states that claimed to be communist.

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i`v seen pakistani and indian troops doing a version of this style of marching on the their border [in a very aggresive manner to each other] . they would have been empire troops then ,ww1 ??.

mike.

No Pakistan in WW1 or WW2 , come to that.

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Is the Der Stechschritt the same thing as the Parade-schritt?

Here is a quote from Falls' "The History Of The First Seven Battalions The Royal Irish Rifles."

Wednesday, November 11th, was the day of the memorable attack astride the Menin road by the

Prussian Guard *, one of the most famous events in the history of the war, to which a touch

of the romance that had fled from these battlefields of blood, mud and iron was brought back

by these magnificent troops executing a few steps of the parade-schritt before they advanced

to the assault.

* Officially known as the Battle of Nonne Bosschen.

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