Herms Niel & Reichsmusikzug des RAD

Discussions on the music in the Third Reich. Hosted by Ivan Ž.
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Erika

Post by Ivan Ž. » 22 Sep 2020 10:34

One of the forgotten facts about the popularity of Niel's "Erika" is that it actually inspired a wartime magazine. The magazine "Erika", described as "die frohe Zeitung für Front und Heimat" (the merry newspaper for the front and home), was first published in January 1940, and was issued until 1944. There was actually a young girl, a smiling kind-faced blonde, who played Erika and appeared on several magazine covers (at least in the first year's issues). As "Erika", she even visited the popular radio show "Wunschkonzert für die Wehrmacht" (Request Concert for the Armed Forces), where one of the most requested songs at the time was: Niel's "Erika" (a report on her visiting the show was also published in the magazine).

Below, the cover of the first issue of "Erika", showing the girl with her "soldier boyfriend", who presents her a bouquet of Erika (heather) flowers. On the first pages of the magazine, there's an introduction by "Erika" the girl and a photo report on the "father of Erika", Herms Niel. The report contains some generally unknown images of young Niel - and also a copy of one of the "Wunschkonzert" letters, requesting his song "Erika".

Erika 1-1940 S-1.jpg
Erika 1-1940 S-2-3.jpg
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Auceps
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Re: Erika

Post by Auceps » 22 Sep 2020 14:28

Oh, thanks for these informations, Ivan! Wasn't the photo in their Prussian uniforms made at the same day as their line formation in front of the Neues Palais in Potsdam? Or they have used these uniforms for various occasions (especially since they were stationed in Potsdam)? And is there a possibility to see the photos of younger Niel (I can recognize that he's there in the uniform of the 1. Garde-Regiment zu Fuß) in higher resolution? :)

Cheers,
Auceps

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Re: Erika

Post by Ivan Ž. » 22 Sep 2020 21:25

Hello, Auceps

The two photos in Prussian uniforms were taken on different occasions (although the resolution is low, it's visible that at least the bandleader was dressed differently: in this photo he wears short boots with white gaiters and in the other one he wears either long black boots or short boots with black gaiters). I don't know how often they dressed up like that. Sadly, I haven't found this photo report in any other resolution (if anyone else has it, feel free to share); so far I've seen only the Reichsparteitag photo and the Wunschkonzert letter in higher resolution.

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re:

Post by TrommlerBO » 03 Oct 2020 16:34

Here are some pictures of Herms Niel and his band [in Kassel].
Herms Niel Autogrammkarte 1 (Vorderseite).jpg
Herms Niel Autogrammkarte 1 (Rückseite).jpg
Herms Niel Autogrammkarte 2 (Vorderseite).jpg
Herms Niel Autogrammkarte 2 (Rückseite).jpg
Herms Niel Autogrammkarte 3 (Vorderseite).jpg
Herms Niel Autogrammkarte 3 (Rückseite).jpg
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Re:

Post by TrommlerBO » 03 Oct 2020 17:16

Herms Niel in Bordeaux, 1942
Frankreich Bordeaux Besuch Herms Niel 1.jpg
Frankreich Bordeaux Besuch Herms Niel 1 Umseite.jpg
Frankreich Bordeaux Besuch Herms Niel 2.jpg
Frankreich Bordeaux Besuch Herms Niel 3.jpg
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Re:

Post by Ivan Ž. » 04 Oct 2020 14:14

Hello, TrommlerBO, and :welcome:

Thanks for posting the interesting photos! The first three were taken in Kassel (see also the photographer's stamps), in the City Hall (Stadthalle). Not sure when exactly, but it appears that Niel was still an Obermusikzugführer (judging by his shoulder boards). If so, the photos were taken in 1940 or early 1941 (he grew moustache in 1940 and was promoted to Hauptmusikzugführer on 30 January 1941). I must add that he doesn't look like himself in the third photo - if that's in fact him and not another conductor; his hair looks way thicker than it actually was; but maybe it's just a trick of the light, caused by him moving (the photo was signed by him and the band is his, but the choir is civilian).

An interesting detail regarding Niel and Kassel: there was a rumour that he was killed there, in the 22/23 October 1943 bombing; a quote from a 24 October 1943 report:
The report that Pg. Herms Niel, Einsatzredner for Kassel, composer of the song "Mit England wird jetzt Schluss gemacht", was killed in the air raid on Kassel, is unfounded. Special rescue squads were ordered to clear the ruins of his bombed house. The following day the maid and a dog were set free unhurt. The maid was then able to explain that Niel was not in Kassel during the raid, but was with friends in the country.
What is strange is that the report suggests that he had a house there. Of course, it might have been just a house he stayed in at the time - and it's also possible that the report was based on false rumours completely, or that there was simply a case of mistaken identity.

Earlier the same year (1943), Niel had a successful tour in Kassel, collecting 100000 RM for the KWHW (see this post).

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re:

Post by TrommlerBO » 04 Oct 2020 15:20

Hello Ivan,

Thanks for the information! I didn't expect anything else either, you know your way around very well! I recently bought the pictures on eBay. In the third picture, I don't think Herms Niel is on it, he just signed it. As you said, the hair is way too thick. Nevertheless, he had signed it and it belongs to this three-part series. I like the second photo best. I would have loved to listen to the performance. "Antje, mein blondes Kind" under the direction of the composer and his orchestra, a 200-man soldiers choir and three accordions .. You can feel the devotion and love for this music, which is obviously not very common today.

Can I send you recordings, Ivan?

I am happy to have been accepted by you.

Best regards
TrommlerBO

(P.S. I'm a musician. Trommler means drummer and BO is the abbreviation for "Blasorchester" (wind orchestra).)

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Re:

Post by Ivan Ž. » 04 Oct 2020 22:51

Glad to have you onboard! As for the sound files, no problem, just send me a private message.
Ivan Ž. wrote: promoted to Hauptmusikzugführer on 30 January 1941
Speaking of which...
Badische Presse 1941-02-11 S-4.jpg
Source: Badische Presse, 11.02.1941, p. 4
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Re:

Post by TrommlerBO » 05 Oct 2020 14:45

Here is a portrait of Herms Niel, which was signed by Konstantin Hierl. I suspect that it also dates from that time.
6046.jpg
Source: http://www.victor-gross.eu/epages/62155 ... ducts/6046
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Siegeslied

Post by TrommlerBO » 08 Oct 2020 16:24

Friedrich Christian Prinz Schaumburg-Lippe wrote the text of the "Siegeslied". He wanted it to be set to music only by Herms Niel. He paid for the sheet music, the orchestra for the recording, the shellac records and of course the composer only for this hymn.

Siegeslied 1.jpg
Siegeslied 2.jpg
Siegeslied 3.jpg

Unfortunately I don't have the recording.
I would be very happy if someone could send me this recording!
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Re: Siegeslied

Post by Ivan Ž. » 08 Oct 2020 17:22

Hello, TBO, and thanks for posting (the Hierl-signed photo too).

In case you missed them, here are two photos of Niel posing next to the same sheet music:
viewtopic.php?p=1039561#p1039561
viewtopic.php?p=2097534#p2097534

And a photo of Friedrich Christian Prinz zu Schaumburg-Lippe, who was Dr Goebbels' adjutant (pictured second from the left, next to his boss):
download/file.php?id=469532

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: Siegeslied

Post by TrommlerBO » 08 Oct 2020 20:12

Thank you, Ivan!

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Re:

Post by Ivan Ž. » 08 Oct 2020 23:28

A grand photo report on Herms Niel published in Der Adler magazine, 7 April 1942 (English edition). The report, among other things, revealed that most of Niel's songs were composed in the Sanssouci Park in Potsdam, and that he was an enthusiastic billiard player. His latest airmen's song at the time was "Ingeborg" (Zu den Sternen möcht’ ich fliegen).

Der Adler 1942-04-07 S-208-209.jpg

Particularly interesting is the family photo; it shows Niel, his wife Helene, dog Dina and a young boy. For years I've wondered who the boy was; finally, last year, Mr Freitag (author of Niel) discovered that it was Niel's 16-year-old nephew, Gerhard Stelle (who lived with them at the time). Niel himself wasn't able to procreate, due to a spinal cord injury from WWI. This also explains the eternal longing noticeable in the numerous compositions Niel dedicated to girls and love, which he himself hardly had the chance to properly experience. His wife, Helene, was actually at first the wife of one Max Laferski, and Niel lived with this couple for years, in the same house, in a harmonious (asexual) relationship. He married Helene at the age of 52, after Max died. Today, all three are resting in the same grave.
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Re:

Post by Ivan Ž. » 08 Oct 2020 23:32

And there was actually a press report on that Adler press report :D I guess it made quite an impression at the time.

From Het volk, 09.04.1942, p. 2
Het volk 1942-04-09 S-2.jpg
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Grave

Post by Ivan Ž. » 09 Oct 2020 00:38

Ivan Ž. wrote: His wife, Helene, was actually at first the wife of one Max Laferski, and Niel lived with this couple for years, in the same house, in a harmonious (asexual) relationship. He married Helene at the age of 52, after Max died. Today, all three are resting in the same grave.
Ivan Ž. wrote: Engraved on their tombstone is "Peace I leave with You - My peace I give to You" (John 14, 27).
A photo from April 2011:
Herms Niel grave.jpg
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