Looking Deeper into History.
Joseph P. Robinson.
20 August 2005.
This is an incredibly famous picture. Students worldwide
of World War I have gazed upon this picture to get a feel
for the German assault in France and Belgium in 1914. History
book after history book has copied this picture, cropped
it changed it may be a little bit and included it in their
works. For instance, the 2003 "All the Kaiser's Men"
on page 16 includes this photo with the caption: German
infantry advance to contact in France August 1914. Not to
single this work out as collectors and historians will recall
the same picture from childhood. This is an oft repeated
picture with maybe no more famous picture then this representing
the German attack in 1914.
There have been questions as folks have blown the picture
up and faintly discerned guard Litzen are on the uniforms
and maneuver bands on the helmets. This did not make sense,
especially given that some sources attributed the picture
to Lorraine, where no guard units fought. The helmet detail
of the maneuver bands was faint at best, maybe even airbrushed,
but certainly would lead to some questions. The pictures
below show the 11th Grenadier Litzen and maneuver bands
worn by an artilery unit from a 1912 picture.
Below is a source picture. It comes from the 13 September
1913 copy of a German newspaper. The main title says from
this year's Kaiser Maneuver in Schlesien. Further reading
attributes the maneuver to the VI Army Corps. VI Army Corps
definitely came from the area cited. The Litzen on the uniform
might indeed be from the 11th Grenadier Regiment of the
VI Army Corps.
There is no way to prove exactly what this is a picture
of. The photograph may have indeed, predated this newspaper
significantly. One thing is for certain and it will certainly
change the way we look at traditional histories. This picture
was not taken after 13 September 1913, and it was not taken
in France, Belgium or Lorraine. This just goes to show that
collectors and historians cannot rely upon "conventional
wisdom" when dealing with any issue.