Photo Archive



Bering's painting is based on a sketch attributed to Otto Dix, the great German artist who fought in the trenches of World War I (see Historical Documents to view the original sketch). It depicts the moment Tomcha was struck by a bullet from the Fokker of Baron Manfred von Richthofen shortly after their turbulent relationship was broken off by an ambivalent Tomcha.

...Heartbroken, the Red Baron began to fly erratically. Three weeks later he was killed in action.

...Note the arm positions of Vlasch. It seems as though he were playing his bass as they ran for cover.



Baron von Richthofen verified that he tried to kill Tomcha. His obsession with the gypsy would prove to be his downfall..

...The Archduke who stole Tomcha
from the Baron. He would soon
be abandoned as well.

... . .
...These photos of Tomcha were found in the cockpit of the Baron von Richthofen's Fokker the day it was brought down.


British troops discover the bodies of Tomcha & Vlasch in a collapsed church in Krakow....

The British "tommies"
who dug them out.

This is the only known photo
of Vlasch's mother, Alicia.

Tomcha & Vlasch a few weeks before
their untimely demise.

Tomcha's gypsy father, Casimer.

Cannibal from Borneo who purchased
Tomcha from his gypsy parents. He
survived with only the loss of an earlobe.

...At one time believed to be lost, their handwritten notations and lyrics were discovered in 1949 under the floorboards of this French brothel where they had apparently been bartered for certain favors.

Baby Tomcha before being sold by his
gypsy parents to a childless cannibal couple.

The Bedouin introduced Vlasch
to their music.
...Vlasch was abandoned by his parents and adopted by the Bedouin. Shown here sleeping while his nomadic parents serenade him.

Tomcha & Vlasch circa 1909

Tomcha returned to Poland on a Norwegian whaling ship to reclaim his gypsy roots.

...German Albatross that crashed less than six feet from where Vlasch slept.

Tomcha's brief flirtation
with the cello

Young Vlasch (on left) full of hopes and
dreams for the future.

Belgian women mesmerized by Tomcha & Vlasch.

Vlasch with
unindentified musician

Tomcha recuperates using the
"Electro Vacuum Rayograph" after being
severely wounded by Baron von Richthofen.

Masters of distribution, they secretly disarmed shells, filling them instead
with their lyrics to cheer the troops.

One of the shells rendered harmless
by the gypsies.

Even starving orphans offered them food.

Vlasch addresses an anti-war rally.
Tomcha visits German troops
Room in Palestine
where "Solitary Dan"
was composed

Some musicians were less fortunate

Playing for the Kaiser

Dropping coffee filled bombs to tired troops

Vlasch greeted by Polish resistance
Doughboy calling
the enemy to verify
location of Tomcha &
Vlasch concert.

Tomcha taught guitar...
and amore.

Vlasch's concert career, like his marriage,
was cut short by the demands
of his first love...opium.

Soldiers stood in line to hear the singing gypsies in concert.

Tomcha "borrowed" this French biplane in order to take
food and clothing to starving homeless orphans.

Clowning around in a
funhouse mirror

Laundry day at the Marne

Blinded troops hoping to touch Vlasch's cloak.

Sailors requesting their favorite song.

...Tomcha & Vlasch (on bicycles) arrive to entertain German zeppelin pilots.

They comfort a wounded bassoonist.

Preparing to use floodlight to cast hand-puppet shadows on a cloudy night.

Students of Hermann Helmholtz
broadcast their concerts

Tomcha with unkown musicians

Relaxing in a
trench near the Somme

Vlasch's viola scroll can just barely be seen in lower right corner of the trench.
...Always the consummate and versatile performers, their Dresden circus appearance was sold out for three weeks. Photo attributed to Oskar Barnack.

They survived the sinking of the Lusitania.

The bottle always found its way to

Boozer, their faithful hound
...A young Tomcha (circled) in his first band

A map showing how Vlasch (dotted line) and Tomcha (solid line) maximized
their entertainment offensive at Verdun by temporarily splitting up.
. .. . . ..
Artists often used them to model for propaganda posters.

Huzzahs for Tomcha & Vlasch

They often used gas masks to enhance the effects of smoking hashish.

circa 1911

Tomcha feigned blindness to gain the sympathy and favors of a wealthy duchess.

Vlasch was prone not only to
sleepwalking, but also bass playing
in a somnambulistic state.

Retreat where Vlasch unsuccessfully attempted to overcome his opium addiction.

The unknown individual (middle) was later attacked by a drug-crazed Vlasch for allegedly criticizing his bowing technique.

Accordion given to Tomcha by French artillerymen.

Vlasch with voice teacher

Performing in Latvian circus

Feigning illness in order to seduce nuns and nurses

Tomcha was known to impersonate
priests in order to pilfer wine.

Vlasch in traditional
Polish gypsy attire

On holiday

Opium nearly killed an emaciated Vlasch.

Impersonating German officers in Bavaria

Near the end of their careers

...Tomcha & Vlasch pose before the tank that was given to them by soldiers grateful for any distraction from the horrors of trench warfare.

.Tomcha watches as Vlasch "liberates" a larger tank. ..


In 1918, the world took a brief hiatus from the war as memorial services for
Tomcha & Vlasch were held in cities across the globe.





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Data compiled by Prof. Glenn Bering

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