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Un album al oştirii de la finele secolului al XIX-lea - necunoscut /album of the army from the end of the 19th century - unpublished

Limba de redactare română
Excerpt In 1990 I published a paper about The 19th Century Albums of the Romanian Army. At the time I was sure that this might become a comprehensive work to which nothing could have been added. Recently I have been surprised to discover, in a second hand book shop, an album totally unknown to me and to any other researcher bound to study the military uniforms. Its title is Die Rumanische Armee in ihrer gegenwărtigen Uniformirung and was published in Leipzig by the editor Moritz Ruhl. This editor was wellknown in late 19th century for his publications dealing with military topics and especially with information upon military uniforms. He edited albums about the Prussian, Russian, Italian, Austro-Hungarian, British. Spanish and even Japanese armies and their latest uniforms. All of them were conceived on the same pattern: some plates depicting officers and soldiers in such position as to reveal the details of their uniforms, the cut and adornment; some plates with a concise rendering of each uniform in a rectangle with the main details which made it recongnizable (facings and pipings, golden knets ar shoulder straps, headgear and accouterment). All the above-mentioned albums had no author and no date of publication inscribed on their cover. The Romania one makes an exception: its author was cavalry lieutenant Alexandru I.V. Socec. Tracing his life we may find this album's approximate date of publication.
. Socec was born in 1859 as son of I.V. Socec, a celebrated book shop owner and editor in Bucharest. In 1880 he entered the army and had a brilliant career. He was quite rapidly promoted in the military hierarchy, reaching the rank of brigadier general in 1913. Even though he fought bravely during WWI - being under incessant fire for four months - he was court-martialed and expelled from the army. He was made responsible for the retreat-turn-rout of his battered army on the battle of the Argeş River. He was also accused of leaving his command. Actually he was a scapegoat for the mistaken battle plans of his superiors. Years later he pleaded his innocence in a well-documented brochure he published in 1922, reprinted and enlarged in 1928. Even though he has been exonerated after a second trial he wasn't able to forget his ordeal and never forgave his accusers. He died in 1928 an embittered aged man.
In his youth Alexandru I.V. Socec completed the album entitled Die Rumanische Armee in ihrer gegenwărtigen Uniformirung. As he had the rank of first lieutenant (the equivalent for the German "oberleut-nant") between 1887 and 1893 that's for sure the album was published in that period of time.
The cover of the album is devided into two parts: on the left there is a "dorobantz" (irregular infatryman) in full dress and with all his equipment; on the right is the national flag and Romania's coat-of-arms. On the first plate there is a portrait of King Carol I of Romania. This picture had been taken in 1878 by the photographer Franz Duschek of Bucharest. The following plates were depicting the uniforms of the various arms and ranks which composed the Romanian Army: general, staff officer, aide-de-camp of the King, cavalry, infantry, artillery, corp-of-engineers, medical corps navy. As in all other albums published by Moritz Ruhl. the second half of this album was devoted to the compact depiction of the same uniforms. The album ends with a twenty-four pages explanatory text in good German. There, the author was describing the organisation of the Romanian Army, giving minute details about its uniforms and equipment.
A few years later, Socec had published another album - of a larger size - in his father's publishing house in Bucharest. Inspired by the German one he produced plates in the same concise rendering of the main traits of the Romanian uniforms. That album was also undated. But, as long as the changes practiced in 1895 in the Romanian uniforms are quite obvious in Socec's plates, it is supposed that the album was published that very year or soon after.
Paginaţia 117-126
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Titlul volumului de apariție
  • Muzeul Naţional; IX; anul 1997