Albert Heim and Lieutenant General Theodor von Wundt
– The Germans on the Somme –
September 1914 – September 1916

 26th January – 28th February 2013

These 62 paintings in ink and watercolour were personally commissioned from Albert Heim (b.1890-?) by Lieutenant General Theodor von Wundt (1858-1929). Wundt commanded the 6500 Württemberger men of the 51 Reserve Infantry Brigade from 2nd August 1914 to 1st October 1916 during most of which time the Brigade was on the Somme battlefield between Ovillers and Beaumont Hamel and centred at Thiepval. The watercolours record the General’s life, mostly before the British offensive of July 1st 1916, while he was quartered first at Courcelette, then at Miraumont and at work on the Sector’s battlefields. It is remarkable that a busy Lieutenant General should have commissioned such a personal record and they may have been painted with publication in mind.

More information on Heim, von Wundt and the
51 Reserve Infantry Brigade is at the bottom of this page.

To read Melissa Van der Klugt’s very good review
of the exhibition in The Times (19.01.13) click here.

.

.Lieutenant General von Wundt’s photograph album (picture left) from the same period forms a fascinating counterpoint to the paintings and can be viewed by clicking here

.

.

ALBERT HEIM (b.1890)

Albert Heim (b.1890) was born in Esslingen and trained as an artist and illustrator at the Stuttgart Academy of Arts. He appears to have worked as a commercial artist and illustrator during the 1920s. The presence of the Censor’s Stamp on the reverse of numbers 35, 37, 38, 39 and 44 suggest that these watercolours were considered for publication in a magazine or book and it may be that the entire series were intended to illustrate an account of von Wundt’s life in the Sector.

Literature:
Hauptbuch der schwarzen Hand: Albert Heim; Max Korner; Wilhelm Schnarrenberger with a forward by Otto Franz Kutscher and a dedication by the Rhein/Main Regional Group of the Society of German Advertising Art to the participants of the 3rd Bundestag (Federal Parliament) in Munich. 32 pages. Publ. 1924.

 

LIEUTENANT GENERAL THEODOR VON WUNDT (1858-1929)

Theodor von Wundt came from an military family and was the son of a War Minister. Before the War he commanded 59 Infantry Brigade based in Saarburg. On the 2nd August 1914 he was given command of 51 Reserve Infantry Brigade and served with them until 1st October 1916. He was then promoted to command 18th Reserve Division which continued to serve on the Somme in October before being moved to Arras.

Von Wundt was not only a professional soldier but a noted mountaineer and author of books on mountaineering in the Alps, novels and poetry.* By his English wife Maud Walters (d.1960) he had a daughter Nora, who practiced as a pediatrician, and two sons. Max (b.c.1896) who was killed in the first weeks of the War and Rolf (1902-2000) a Radio Physicist and worldwide authority on radio antennae who was airlifted via Operation Paperclip to the USA in 1945 and who became an American citizen. His wife and two children accompanied him, as did his father’s WW1 watercolour collection and photographs. These descended from his daughter (b.1933) to her daughter; Theodor von Wundt’s great grand-daughter.

*Die Besteigung des Cimone della Pala, Stuttgart 1892; Wanderungen in den Ampezzaner Dolomiten, Berlin 1893; Wanderbilder aus den Dolomiten, Stuttgart [u.a.] 1894; Das Matterhorn und seine Geschichte, Berlin 1896; Die Jungfrau und das Berner Oberland, Berlin 1897; Engadin, Ortler, Dolomiten, Stuttgart 1900; Hinauf!, Stuttgart 1913; Disziplin, Stuttgart 1915; Matterhorn, Berlin 1916; Ich und die Berge, Berlin 1917; Höhenflug, Berlin 1918; Das Diadem, Berlin 1926; Zermatt und seine Berge, Zürich 1930

 

THE 51 RESERVE INFANTRY BRIGADE

51 Reserve Infantry Brigade (RIB 51) was a part of 26 Reserve Division of the Reserve XIV Corps and consisted of two regiments: Infantry Regiment 180 (IR 180) and Reserve Infantry Regiment 121 (RIR 121). The nominal strength of an infantry regiment was about 3100 officers and men so the Brigade, with HQ staff, consisted of about 6500 men.

At the outbreak of War the German Army effectively split into two and formed a duplicate set of reserve divisions. This was a great feat of organization and was achieved by posting in a cadre of officers and NCOs from the regular (‘aktiv’) regiments. Many German men had two or three years of national service and so were able to fill out immediately effective and battleworthy regiments. Von Wundt’s troops were in action within two weeks of formation. The Brigade also acquired Reserve Infantry Regiment 99 after mobilization although this was moved to 52 Reserve Infantry Brigade, whose formation paralled that of 51 RIB, in March 1915.

With particular thanks to Professor Holger Afflerbach, Mrs Elisabeth Hauff, Mrs Joanna Legg, Mr Christian Baudisch and Mr Alastair Fraser.

 

MAPS SHOWING THE SECTOR – CLICK TO ENLARGE