Thursday, 10 September 2009

"If we hadn't been forced to split up, we would be more famous today than The Beatles."

"They became stars. A great variety of audiences found them irresistable, and the Comedian Harmonists were at home in theaters all over Europe. In 1934 they were a huge success in New York. They were popular on radio and in recordings. Including the legendary hit comedy Die drei von der Tankstelle, they appeared in as many as 13 films in the early days of the movie industry; unfortunately, none of their films have been found since the war.

But the picture-book career of the apolitical Comedian Harmonists did not survive the changing political climate in Germany. Their songs -- most were by Jewish composers -- were criticized by the Nazis as early as 1932, when they were not yet in power, as "Jewish-marxist noise." Indeed, three of the group -- Frommermann, Collin, and Cycowski -- were Jews. Cycowski's wife Mary had converted to Judaism, and Bootz's wife Ursula was Jewish. The popular, politically naive musicians ignored all the warning signs. But then in 1934 the unapproved Jewish members of the group were forbidden to perform, and the Comedian Harmonists were given Auftrittsverbot by the Reichskulturkammer. The Comedian Harmonists split up. They gave their last concert in Munich on March 25, 1934."
- Carol Traxler, Quarter Notes.