28.12.12 14:27The world's first boy band | Culture | DW.DE | 28.12.2012Seite 3 von 5http://www.dw.de/the-worlds-first-boy-band/a-16484168
Their career was short, but theirimpact huge
the Comedian Harmonists gave their first concert abroad, in Amsterdam, and also sang for the firsttime in a film. Their song "Ein Freund, ein gutter Freund" (A friend, a good friend) from the film "TheThree from the Filling Station" became an instant hit.In a time when a quarter pound of sausage cost 12 pfennig, the young singers earned 50,000 to 60,000Reichsmark per year. They thoroughly enjoyed their prestige, the fancy cars and the women. And they ignored the dark cloud that was gathering over them.In 1933, the Nazis came topower in Germany. Threemembers of the sextet wereJewish. The ComedianHarmonists weren'tinterested in politics andthought their popularity gavethem immunity. But as early as 1933, some of theirconcerts were canceled because, in Nazi Germany,Jews weren't wanted on stage.In May 1934, they were banned altogether. The Comedian Harmonists gave their last concert inMunich. "I don't even need to describe the feelings we had when we performed," Robert Biberti saidlater. "We bowed and a hurricane erupted. The entire audience got on its feet; they cheered andtromped, and we stood up there like drenched poodles."Baritone Roman Cycowski, who later became a Jewish cantor, added, "When we finished the concert,everyone shouted, 'Auf Wiedersehen, see you again!'"
The ban led to internal disagreements and divided the group. The three non-Jewish membersdemanded a higher percentage of their earnings at foreign concerts, claiming the other three wereresponsible for the fact that they couldn't perform in Germany.In the end, they agreed to split their pay equally six ways, as they had before, and they made ends meet with performances outside of Germany, singing their hits in several languages. In Italy theComedian Harmonists shone with the overture to "Barber of Seville;"on the aircraft carrier "Saratoga" in New York they impressed 80,000US soldiers; and in France they were already well-known for theirsong "Voilà, les gars de la marine."Nevertheless, the group split up in the end. Biberti, Leschnikoff andBootz stayed in Germany, while Collin, Cyycowski and Frommermann emigrated and tried to re-establish the Comedian Harmonists in Vienna.The three in Germany partnered with two non-Jewish singers and toured the country under the nameMeister-Sextett until 1941. But their light-hearted music was considered contrary to the war effort and was finally banned as well."For both groups, for those who emigrated as well as for us, the old standard never came back becausethe team spirit wasn't there anymore," said Robert Biberti decades later. All six singers survived the war, but didn't reunite even after it was over. Their songs, however, remainunforgotten.
Comedian Harmonists sing 'Ich wollt', ich wärein Huhn'