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Identifying a photographer (IR 21) Bulgaria etc 1915-18


4thGordons
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Forgive the lengthy post:

 

I have just been lucky enough to purchase an album of about 200 photographs.

There are a few commercial postcards amongst them but the vast majority are (subject to wear and tear and age) pretty good quality pictures. These all appear to have been taken by a German photographer who spent part of 1915-18 in Bulgaria.

 

I am hopeful I might be able to identify the photographer (or perhaps at least the units involved) and/or piece together a timeline.

I have already asked about a picture of a U-boat (and crew) HERE and an aircraft and crew HERE as I thought these were sufficiently specialized that experts would be able to pin the ID down.

 

Quite a number of the pictures have brief comments on them although they are very difficult to make out

Quite a few have locations mentioned including:

 

Varna (lots), Constanta (a number of these are commercial views) Panje, and later on a couple annotated Bialokiernica/Bialokierniza, Chernowitz in Galizien, Kappellenberg  and finally as small group which show "Schloss Staben an der Dune" and ruined buildings and barbed wire entanglments "an der Dune"

 

If I had to guess the first 30 or 40 pictures appear to show German troops entering Bulgaria and a parade/welcome with dignitaries and marching bands etc (welcoming groups, unloading men and equipment from trains, crowds of people and groups of apparently quite high ranking officers.) Many of the others show groups of men in various locations which appear to be mostly in and around Varna

 

There are pictures of Austro-Hungarian troops (annotated as "Oesterreicher") various Bulgarian groups (gymnasts, bands, military parades), one picture of Serbian Prisoners, a parade including lancers and quite a few of loading and unloading trains with equipment, men etc.

 

There are also some excellent landscape/local inhabitants/buildings (churches/big buildings etc)

A lot of these strike me as rather better than just snapshots, certainly some of them are quite good so either the photographer was operating in some sort of official capacity or was an accomplished amateur who had access (there are quite a few pictures of groups of officers which makes me think the photographer was either one of them or had some sort of official duty recording the events)

 

Frustratingly I think the order of the pictures may have become confused over time and some may be missing.

 

There is one "studio portrait" style photo in the opening pages - which I thought *might* be the photographer? (or at least have some significance to the collection as it is the only one of the type) although the subject does not appear to be an officer.  There is one "arty" portrait of a young woman (no annotation/identifying features)

Here is the portrait: From my limited knowledge of German uniforms I would guess this is a member of a Guards regiment? (I am working on enhancing the shoulder board but just going on the cuffs/collar insignia) Other pictures (see below) do not show these cuffs/collar litzen but do seem to refer to IR 26 or perhaps 20

portrait.jpg.8b9ea95b4036fcb24b80fae904f30881.jpg

 

While there are quite a number of cards with short annotations on the front (VERY hard to decipher) only one so far has a message written on it and that too is hard to make out. Frankly whilst I assume this is in German my ancient O-level is failing me - largely because I cannot make out letters let alone words! This is on the back of one of the commercial views

Here:

writing.jpg.96fe89681048894510923876c5a3290e.jpg

 

I will begin the process of scanning the pics over the next few days but it will take some time.

but here are a couple to give a flavour:

 

(welcoming/awaiting/the arrival of)? the first German troops into Bulgaria

Greeting.jpg.6683f602814e3347e80066403eff608a.jpg

 

[Someone] visiting the Regiment 26 in Varna?

 

1831301715_ir26invarna.jpg.0c5e8714de44f3af8fddcb61adaa744b.jpg

 

The Austrians

Austrians.jpg.0377f2be7000ab2cbe49d7c36380c703.jpg

 

I was hoping someone might be able to make something out of the above card that would give clues and also, if anyone could provide pointers regarding a general background text covering German relations with and military deployments in Bulgaria as this is an area where my knowledge is ... (I was going to say lacking but frankly it is really non-existent!)

 

I suspect this is going to be a rather long term project so I would welcome suggestions as to how to approach it.

Chris

 

 

Edited by 4thGordons
add regiment to title
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Hi Chris,

the studio photo shows a member of the 1st Eisenbahn-Regiment from Berlin. During WW1 they formed lots of units all related to the military railway formations.

The photo with the General at Varna is captioned "His excellency is visiting the 26th regiment" I wonder if it is a kuk Regiment. To the left of him a high ranking Bulgarian officer, possibly a colonel or general.

GreyC

Edited by GreyC
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Thanks very much @GreyC

 

I hadn't thought of someone involved in the railways - that might be a good lead given the number of pictures of troop trains.

 

I think the regiment referred to is probably German as most of the pictures seem to come from a German "point of view" (ie other groups are referred to as "the Austrians" , "Serb Prisoners" "in Bulgaria" etc but I would defer to your expertise.

Here are a couple more examples - there are a dozen or so like these I don't know if the number on the caption is a date or a unit designation - I think the former.

I can't make out the number on the soldiers helmet covers on these but I will keep looking.

1413460111_arrival1a.jpg.f9d229639ed848059f7a78b6c073e5a0.jpg

 

 

 

Some high ranking officers inspecting troops leaving for the front? "GeneralMajor  ???  &  ??? Lindecke"

If it is relevant all the men appear to be armed with Kar 98az rather than GEW 98 or GEW 88 rifles

17028380_arrival1.jpg.081ea123cbf8d164e65bf88d0e021e82.jpg

 

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EDIT: on another version of the above pic I can clearly see 21 on the helmet cover

eating.jpg.08f1ac29828d3c616311020f44209611.jpg

 

eating-detail.jpg.0ae2ec3de9786746cc3ab987b09cbac8.jpg

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Ha,

it is not IR 26  (that´s why I was sceptical) it´s IR 21!

First photo shows 3rd coy IR 21 getting off the train.

2nd photo shows Generalmajor Jankoff (probably 3rd Bulgarian army, didn´t check) and oberstleutnant Lüdecke inspecting the troops.

1915: Ausscheiden aus 35. ID und Zuteilung zur neu aufgestellten 105. ID. Teilnahme am Sommerfeldzug in Galizien (Durchbruchsschlacht von Gorlice-Tarnow), dann am Feldzug in Serbien.

1915/16: Ausscheiden der 105. ID aus Heeresgruppe Mackensen zum Einsatz in Bulgarien, IR 21 in Varna zum Küstenschutz der 3. bulgarischen. Armee unterstellt.

1916: II. und III./21 sowie MG-Kp erneuter Feldzug in Galizien (Kutyska, Dryszczow), das I. Bataillon (Maj. v. Hammerstein) am Feldzug gegen Rumänien (Tutrakan, Topraisar, Constanza) beteiligt.

1917: Einsatz 105. ID in Kurland (Mitau, Jakobstadt), im November Versetzung der Division an die Westfront.

 

Posted simultaneously!

GreyC

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Fantastic -- well that is going to provide some clearer context then!

THANK YOU.

Chris

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image.jpeg.7f68f139309ae07c530c0188087acbe7.jpeg

From the Regimental History IR21 http://digital.wlb-stuttgart.de/sammlungen/sammlungsliste/werksansicht/?no_cache=1&tx_dlf[id]=14201&tx_dlf[page]=1&cHash=74933e7480ffa901d5aa97c87aa57d34

L -R 

Bulgarian Generalmajor Jankoff

Hauptmann Bartenwerfer

Generalleutnant v. Kraewell

?
Bulgarian Oberstleutnant Minkoff

Oberstleutnant Lüdecke

 

Charlie

 

 

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Excellent - thank you for the link. 

I have downloaded it to go through carefully.

A quick look through the plates shows quite a few that look similar to those in the album I wonder if a photographer is credited anywhere in the History.

Thanks again,

Chris

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  • 2 months later...

I have just now got some time to get back and work on this collection.

There are clearly several sets of photographs although unfortunately the order of the album has been jumbled (seller had removed all the most impressive shots to sell separately and then some others then sold off the rest of the album together - luckily I was able to get all of them -- however whilst some pictures are numbered and many are annotated the original order in which they were displayed is difficult to discern.

However there is one run of 25 pictures which are all of the same tone and printed on the same paper and numbered 1-26 (two, no3 and no 18, are missing) and they appear to show the arrival of IR21 in Bulgaria and subsequent move towards Varna so I thought I would post them here for review/comment.

Presented here in the order they are numbered:

 

Cattle - presumably taken on the way in - I have seen very similar cattle in Eastern Hungary (called Magyar Szürke - Hungarian Grey) so perhaps these had the same interest for the photographer as they did for me!

No1.jpg.1f4f4e9ba73c28f6b498124e13feef6c.jpg

Arrival and meeting local dignitaries, priests and children

No2.jpg.2f06e67b7c618edc5e6dfe4b0cb416e4.jpg

No4.jpg.831b1cf65acce6f437d04fb1be8a6c37.jpg

No5.jpg.15f1071ee51cb71b222657a9db3825f1.jpg

No6.jpg.bc79027ecefaa57f40c5412bf53fa79a.jpg

No7.jpg.e8dfa351b1354fe145617a03eac6b876.jpg

No8.jpg.9bcbc5ec663b110db052ba0e52ca9f04.jpg

No9.jpg.da19741618132f631685e981cac69bf0.jpg

No10.jpg.ad8f2677d3ab13179257185c8ce362e9.jpg

No11.jpg.78af3a14b3d825b2cb39083321c4b488.jpg

No12.jpg.9e867a7d642a167e6028de87f6b754ae.jpg

 

Unloading wagons and water bowsers

No13.jpg.4de7efae3e2da247d343e6312d6ac8b6.jpg

No14.jpg.8d4898c46ad71175ce774c7753a4ca5b.jpg

No15.jpg.a78b28d6746129454f2346a43c48a7b1.jpg

 

Railway Station at Gorna Oryahovitsa, Bulgaria

No16.jpg.291e124fb021cbbe3d8247f94feb33c1.jpg

From other pics I believe these are several of the more senior officers

No17.jpg.5ba00cef1e37e88c234fa05b86187b28.jpg

No19.jpg.58e1d3b1fa4a72ecd4f8d4c35e2279d6.jpg

No20.jpg.bd996a0f0caf32ba70c5a4e851f98153.jpg

No21.jpg.0e5a3b4115bff92ba4610cbd3d72175b.jpg

Austrian troops

No22.jpg.61cc30e78785c39df08e5ec48ffb16ee.jpg

No23.jpg.e0a45cd318dc720b60b09dc660f170bd.jpg

Issue of (?) Gas Masks (trying on/fitting?)

No24.jpg.f441cc78316fec3b1add62757f88abb3.jpg

Doctor and medical/sanitary detachment? (perhaps gathered around a laundry boiler?)

No25.jpg.2571fa9589fcc75aef95cc30a174c5fc.jpg

No26.jpg.0672e5e09c3dafdb05df3179bf816e07.jpg

 

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  • 4thGordons changed the title to Identifying a photographer (IR 21) Bulgaria etc 1915-18

Nice series of photographs. I am quite sure the photographer had some training either as amateur or professional. Divisions and regiments had designated photographers that took and sometimes developed and printed photographs of their respective units (mostly part time). The larger the unit Armee.Korps the more time they spent with their job. Sometimes they were amateurs, sometimes they were professionals with their own studio at home and then there were photographers (on army or Armeekorps-level) that belonged to military units specialising in photography, like observers from the Luftstreitkräfte, military passport control and issuing units, or map manufactering units for example, whose facilities and manpower were partly used to snap war memorabila.

GreyC

PS: This photo of Laon cathedral was taken by the photo-unit of 2nd Mine-throwing battailion.

1603491176_xFoto_AbteilungMinenwerferBtlIIRKopie.jpg.9890addee8be180bd97eaaddb032ec6e.jpg

677548518_xFoto_AbteilungMinenwerferBtlIILaonKopie.jpg.c612915e7835cf0c07248b5cea337342.jpg

 

Edited by GreyC
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4 hours ago, 4thGordons said:

Doctor and medical/sanitary detachment? (perhaps gathered around a laundry boiler?)

No25.jpg.2571fa9589fcc75aef95cc30a174c5fc.jpg

 

 

No, that's a field kitchen (Gulaschkanone). You can see on the right hand side a portable canister that keeps the food warm when being transported from the kitchen to the front line.

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Here's what I make of the card. Accuracy of transcription not guaranteed ;-)

Mein l[ieber] Emil!

Für deine Karten

meinen Dank. Die letzte

Zeit war hier die Hölle los.

Denn so eine Artilleriefeuer

hatten wir lange nicht gehabt.

Die Russen (?) waren auch in

ziemlichen Massen zur Stelle.

I/21 (?) hat mal wieder dem

Regt 45 allerlei gezeigt und

dazu mit ganz geringen

Verlusten. Jetzt liegen wir

in der Hafenstadt Konstantza

und ruhen uns aus von

unseren Strapatzen.

 

On the side:

Viele Grüsse an Herrn

Feldwebel Stürzel (?) und

Härz (?). Lebe wohl mein

Emil bis auf Wiedersehen.

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26 minutes ago, knittinganddeath said:

I/21 (?)

Means 1st Btl. IR 21.

And here an unobstructed view of a Gulaschkanone.

GreyC

xGulaschkanone.jpg.4de8a665b953650b8aadf9aa3d8f75b4.jpg

 

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Thanks @GreyC , @AOK4 and @knittinganddeath. I very much appreciate your observations.

When I bought the album/collection my first thought was indeed that the compiler/owner had been a keen and skilled amateur (or professional) photographer. I am enough of a photographer myself to recognize that some of the images are both technically and artistically really very good - amongst some of the best I have in my small collection.  On this basis, I assumed that the photographer was either a fairly senior officer who had some license/access to locations (based on what was photographed) and ability to take pictures OR held some kind of official/semi official unit photographer role and I was interested in seeing if he was identifiable.

There seems to be several "runs" of photographs developed on different papers and of varying quality which would support the suggestion that some were developed "in the field" or in varying local darkrooms. In addition there are a dozen or so commercial pictures/cards mostly of Varna and the area around.

There is one pic (taken in Poland I think) which I think is absolutely fantastic and, coincidentally, also shows a Gulaschkanone, being used to feed Russian prisoners.

Russian-PrisonersWeb.jpg.0ccdf9ff4d9609bbfc0594a6eeb57432.jpg

I think this picture is fantastic -- there are so many sub stories in the faces of both the prisoners and the guards - it actually reminds me of a Breugel painting (Think the peasant wedding feast scene).

Lots of the other photos have captions but there are very few names (apart from some senior officers identified above) however one name that shows up on a couple of cards as the addressee (ie who odd pictures were sent to) might be a clue and mirrored in the transcription above: (MANY thanks @knittinganddeath)

Unteroffizier Emil Nies?

Nies-2.jpg.da808c4815b51a5d45738232c18dc47c.jpg

Nies-1.jpg.398b77aafd88e08cdab5d6dd1258b117.jpg

I wonder if traces of Emil might be found.

Chris

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In 1915 (Rawkalager near Bolimow) he was still Gefreiter, by 1918 he was a Unteroffizier.

Does the card with the stamp "Ortskommandantur Lichtervelde" have something interesting on the other side?

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The interesting thing here is that one (the first) is FROM Nies, the other to him, sent by a Heinrich Pollmann.

The first says: "Keep this card as a memento/souvenir for me. The guy marked with an x is my Feldwebel.

I don´t think that Nies took (all) photos. There were many possibilities to get them from different sources. But of course he may have been one of them. Emil Nies seems to have survived the war unharmed.

GreyC

Edited by GreyC
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35 minutes ago, AOK4 said:

Does the card with the stamp "Ortskommandantur Lichtervelde" have something interesting on the other side?

Sorry I should have posted the other side here:

Here is the one with the stamp:

1343602608_front1.jpg.c02f679e1478413db6c5e702b4558f45.jpg

 

And here is the other one:

1765465786_front2.jpg.52da0e5f22cc5656f47380b486e15a5e.jpg

It took me a while to find it but the X is below the man on the far right as we look at the pic!

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Got the wrong coat on, though. He is supposed to be  Feldwebel but wears the coat of a plain soldier or Gefreiter. He does have a Portepee. On the far left you have the highest ranked, an Offizierstellvertreter. They were experienced Vizefeldwebel or Feldwebel who were given the position of Offizierstellvertreter. After the war they would have returned to their rank they had held before.

Grey

Here an officer taking a photograph of the enemy trenches or the noman´s land.

xFotografimGraben_Kohlehaufen_Verlinghem.jpg.4b5b8df915293b7fe14fb4238733fe04.jpg

 

 

Edited by GreyC
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1 hour ago, GreyC said:

The interesting thing here is that one (the first) is FROM Nies, the other to him, sent by a Heinrich Pollmann.

The first says: "Keep this card as a memento/souvenir for me. The guy marked with an x is my Feldwebel.

I don´t think that Nies took (all) photos. There were many possibilities to get them from different sources. But of course he may have been one of them. Emil Nies seems to have survived the war unharmed.

GreyC

Well, it's a collection of cards from Nies, some sent to him and some collected by him from where he has been undoubtedly. A typical collection which are nowadays rarer and rarer to find.  Pics were indeed very popular and from good pics, quite a few were made. One can sometimes find pics with names and numbers on the backside. Often, military means were used for this and some units made a bit of money for the wellfare fund or for the widows' and orphans' fund of the unit.

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Thank you -- yes it looks increasingly like it was Nies' collection. Given the sheer number (200) and the quality of some I suspect he WAS the photographer for a number of them (or at least had access to the photographer) but I suppose we shall never actually know.

I will begin scanning some of the other pics this afternoon.

Chris

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I‘m sure GreyC will have at least one much better photo :) This is of the Photographic section of RIR 111 at work.

Charlie

86EA557F-AB42-47A2-9118-0B70C17E1C9B.jpeg

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I do indeed have a couple of these rare photos, Charlie, but can´t get to all of them right now. Yours seems to come from the regimental history. Interesting to note that a few prints were in the process of being developed while the photo of the lab itself was taken. See the little frames on the window sills. They are the contact frames into which the photographic paper was placed face to face with the negative (like a sandwich) and placed into the sun which then started its magical process and transfered the image from the negativ to the positive print in broad daylight. In German these papers were called Auskopierpapier (Printing-Out Paper). You could watch the latent image to appear and then end the process when the paper was fully developed. It had to be fixated and rinsed and when dry was ready for distribution.

Here you have a couple of mine:

1) Ulanen wait for the image to materialize

2) Drying and sorting the photos in the Argonnen

3) Order to reproduce 25 photos of the image on the obverse

4) A Potsdam photographer now with a Landsturm-Bataillion

 

 

 

x1 Auskopierpapierrahmen am Fenster Stempel Uniform 8_KR 06081915 Kopie.jpg

x2 Fotografien werden draussen getrocknet Argonnen 1604????  Kopie.jpg

x3 25 Stück anfertigen Artillerie Bedienung R.jpg

x4 Fotograf im Felde Carl Schatzmann III_Ldst Btl Potsdam Atelier Potsdam Yorkstrasse 4 R Kopie.jpg

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3 hours ago, AOK4 said:

and from good pics, quite a few were made.

And with luck you find the same image in different qualities, as often the negative was not available for an additional order of prints, so they had to do a reproduction of a positive via a new negative which was only to be had in worse quality (less grey tones).

Good examples are photos of hit English tanks, shot down airplanes or destroyed lorries which were in high demand from German soldiers.

As I have specialised in collecting photos of photographers at work in the war and their products etc. I was lucky enough to have (among other photos)  three lots of former photographers from WW1, one with an infantry unit, one working at the center for developing photographic practices in aerial photography in Berlin Adlershof and one working for a mapping unit. I also have photographs from civil photographers who worked for photo agencies or as freelancers supplying photo-news to weekly periodicals.

GreyC

 

Edited by GreyC
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As I was removing the next numbered sequence of pics to scan (and sorting through the loose pictures to find those that fit in the sequence) I found a picture of a young woman underneath one of the other photos in the album.

This is the inscription on the back which I am struggling to make anything of (apart from her name). I wondered if this might offer further clues?

note-on-woman.jpg.9cc948cf3fa4c5fddf74e6fc79624c8e.jpg

I have scanned 50 pics all printed on the same sort of paper and all very similar in tone/quality etc - good pictures - not such great reprints (not much contrast) however each one is numbered in the corner and the 1-50 is almost complete and many of them have short handwritten captions. I will tidy them up and start posting them below. They (again) appear to show IR 21 arriving in Bulgaria and moving to Varna - one of the last ones is the picture of a u-boat capt and crew which I posted previously.

Chris

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Zum Andenken an meine Freundin Edith Sielaff, Kolberg, Pom(mern), Börsenstraße 20 III

a memento of my (girl)friend Edith Sielaff, Kolberg, Pom(erania), Börsenstraße 20 III

Charlie

 

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