Norbert Schultze

Last updated
Norbert Schultze in the garden of Artur Beul and Lale Andersen in Zollikon Norbert Schultze.jpg
Norbert Schultze in the garden of Artur Beul and Lale Andersen in Zollikon

Norbert Arnold Wilhelm Richard Schultze (26 January 1911 in Brunswick 14 October 2002 in Bad Tolz) was a prolific German composer of film music and a member of the NSDAP and of Joseph Goebbels' staff during World War II. He is best remembered for having written the melody of the World War II classic "Lili Marleen", originally a poem from the 1915 book Die kleine Hafenorgel by Hans Leip.


Other works were the operas Schwarzer Peter and Das kalte Herz, the musical Käpt'n Bye-Bye, from which comes the evergreen "Nimm' mich mit, Kapitän, auf die Reise" ("Take me travelling, Captain"), as well as numerous films, such as Die Mädels vom Immenhof  [ de ] (1955).

Pseudonyms used by Schultze include Frank Norbert, Peter Kornfeld, and Henri Iversen.


Schultze took the Abitur in Brunswick and went on to study piano, conducting, composing and theatre science in Cologne and Munich. He went to the Bavarian capital in the 1930s as a composer and worked under the name Frank Norbert as an actor in a student cabaret "Die Vier Nachrichter" ("The Four Reporters"). This was followed by 1932-34 involvement in Heidelberg and as a conductor in Darmstadt, Munich and Leipzig and Mannheim.

The Third Reich

After several projects as production manager at Telefunken, Schultze decided in 1936 to try his luck as a freelance composer for stage and film. He delivered a series of compositions for martial and propaganda songs and was advised to become a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party in 1940 in order not to be conscripted. In 1932 he married his first wife, the actress Vera Spohr, with whom he had four children. After his divorce in 1943 he married the Bulgarian actress, singer and writer Iwa Wanja, who contributed libretti to several of his stage works. They had two sons.

On behalf of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels he created works such as "From Finland to the Black Sea", "the song of the Kleist tank group", "tanks roll in Africa" and "bombs on England".

The popularity of these combat and soldier songs led Norbert Schultze to be continually in demand by National Socialist propaganda. He also wrote music for Veit Harlan's morale-boosting "hold out" film Kolberg, and the main theme of the war documentary Baptism of Fire (Feuertaufe). His subsequent comment regarding his war work was, "You know, I was at the best age for a soldier, 30 or so. For me the alternatives were: compose or croak. So I decided for the former." [1]

Schultze was defined under denazification as a "fellow traveller", and on payment of a "processing fee" of 3,000 DM he got an immediate work permit. His songs being controlled to this day by GEMA (Germany), Schultze ordered that all of his royalties from 1933 to 1945 go to the German Red Cross as is the case to this day.

Especially his song "Bomben auf Engeland" led to him being nicknamed "Bomben-Schultze" within Germany's writers of popular tunes in the war years.

In a German speaking BBC documentary about artists working with Joseph Goebbels he claimed: "after writing the tune for national culture bombs on England I said to myself: Oh my god, what if the air-defence hits my relatives or friends. So naive I was."

Lili Marleen

Schultze wrote the melody to "Lili Marleen" from the poem "Die kleine Hafenorgel" by Hans Leip. In 1990 he told BBC researcher Karen Liebreich that the tune was originally written for a toothpaste radio commercial. Sound recordings, first with a female singer Lale Andersen in 1939 at first sold little, but when the German military transmitter in Belgrade signed off with a recording from the singer several times, listeners' letters showed lively demand. The song met the inner mood of millions of soldiers of all armies who were fighting on both sides of the fronts and was translated into about fifty languages to become one of the global cultural "index fossils" of the Second World War. It was the first German million-seller.

Post-war period

Schultze remained true to his profession and wrote numerous operas, operettas (such as Rain in Paris), musicals, ballets ( Struwwelpeter written pre-war during his time at Telefunken) and Max and Moritz (filmed 1956), music for more than 50 movies, and songs.

He was from 1961 president of the Association of German stage writers and composers and from 1973 to 1991 was a board member of the German Composer Association. Until 1996, he held offices on the board of GEMA, the Board of Trustees of the Social Welfare Fund of GEMA and the supply Foundation of the German composers. His later life was spent with his third wife Brigitt Salvatori (married Easter 1992, in a ceremony performed by his daughter), mainly in Majorca but also often in Bavaria.


Selected filmography

Related Research Articles

Lili Marleen German song by Norbert Schultz (text by Hans Leip)

"Lili Marleen" is a German love song which became popular during World War II throughout Europe and the Mediterranean among both Axis and Allied troops. Written in 1915 as a poem, the song was published in 1937 and was first recorded by Lale Andersen in 1939 as "Das Mädchen unter der Laterne".

Lale Andersen

Lale Andersen was a German chanson singer-songwriter and actress born in Lehe. She is best known for her interpretation of the song Lili Marleen in 1939, which by 1941 transcended the conflict to become World War II's biggest international hit. Popular with both the Axis and the Allies, Andersen's original recording spawned versions, by the end of the War, in most of the major languages of Europe, and by some of the most popular artists in their respective countries.

Hans Fischerkoesen, also known as Hans Fischerkösen or Hans Fischer, was a German commercial animator. Fischerkoesen is considered an animation pioneer, due to the inventions and innovations he applied to animation technology, especially the use of three-dimensional elements in his animations. Later he becomes Germany's most influential cartoonist, often nicknamed “Germany’s Walt Disney”. He won both first and second prizes at a Dutch-sponsored international competition in 1937, for advertising films. By 1956 he had won major prizes at commercial film festivals in Rome, Milan, Venice, Monte Carlo and Cannes. Most notable was the participation in the 1st Berlin International Film Festival, where Fischerkoesen's film Blick ins Paradies won the Bronze Medal award.

Nazi songs are songs and marches created by the Nazi Party. In modern Germany, the public singing or performing of songs exclusively associated with the Nazi Party is now illegal.

Kristian Schultze

Kristian Schultze was one-half of the German new-age band Cusco. Schultze partnered with Michael Holm and the two produced numerous new-age albums. The two met in late 1970s, when they discovered that they shared a similar interest in pre-colonial America. Schultze also released a number of solo albums.

Paul Verhoeven was a German actor as well as a film and theatre director.

Lucie Mannheim German singer and actress

Lucie Mannheim was a German singer and actress.

<i>Never Trust a Pretty Face</i> 1979 studio album by Amanda Lear

Never Trust a Pretty Face is the third studio album by French singer Amanda Lear, released by the West German label Ariola Records in 1979. The album included notable hit singles "The Sphinx" and "Fashion Pack ", and turned out a commercial and critical success.

<i>Heart</i> (Amanda Lear album) 2001 studio album by Amanda Lear

Heart is a studio album by French singer Amanda Lear, first released in 2001 by Le Marais Prod.

<i>Tendance</i> 2003 studio album (reissue of Heart) by Amanda Lear

Tendance is a reissue of French singer Amanda Lear's studio album Heart. The album was released in 2003 by Le Marais Prod. and Sony Music.

Karl-Heinz Reintgen was a German journalist, who served as editor-in-chief of radio and television and then as deputy director-general of Saarländischer Rundfunk between 1968 and 1980. He served as a journalist in the broadcast service operated by the German armed forced during World War II and held the rank of lieutenant in the Army. As head of Radio Belgrade, then a German military radio station, he is credited with making the tune "Lili Marleen" widely known.

Hark Bohm is a German actor, screenwriter, film director, playwright and former professor for cinema studies. He was born in Hamburg-Othmarschen and grew up on the island Amrum. His younger brother was the actor Marquard Bohm, who starred in some of his early films. He is most notable for his long-time collaboration with Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

<i>Gottbegnadeten</i> list List of artists considered crucial to nazi culture

The Gottbegnadeten-Liste was a 36-page list of artists considered crucial to Nazi culture. The list was assembled in September 1944 by Joseph Goebbels, the head of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, and Germany's supreme leader Adolf Hitler.

Harry Baer is a German actor, producer and author, best known for his work with director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He has also been credited as Harry Bär.

Hans Leip German writer

Hans Leip, was a German novelist, poet and playwright, best remembered as the lyricist of Lili Marleen.

Fritz Grasshoff

Fritz Graßhoff was a German painter, poet and songwriter. He was known for hits sung by Lale Andersen, Freddy Quinn and Hans Albers. As a painter, he participated in important exhibitions; as a writer, he was known for his lyric volume Halunkenpostille and his autobiographical novel Der blaue Heinrich. He translated poetry by the Ancient Roman Martial and the Swede Carl Michael Bellman. Many of his writings have been set to music by composers such as James Last, Norbert Schultze and Siegfried Strohbach.

Music in Nazi Germany

Music in Nazi Germany, like all cultural activities in the regime, was controlled and "co-ordinated" (Gleichschaltung) by various entities of the state and the Nazi Party, with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and the prominent Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg playing leading – and competing – roles. The primary concerns of these organizations was to exclude Jewish composers and musicians from publishing and performing music, and to prevent the public exhibition of music considered to be "Jewish", "anti-German", or otherwise "degenerate", while at the same time promoting the work of favored "Germanic" composers, such as Richard Wagner and Anton Bruckner. These works were believed to be positive contributions to the Volksgemeinschaft, or German folk community.

<i>Urlaub auf Ehrenwort</i> (1938 film) 1938 film

Urlaub auf Ehrenwort is a 1938 propaganda film directed by Karl Ritter, the last of three films set in the First World War which he made during the period when Nazi Germany was rearming.

Iwa Wanja Bulgarian actress

Iwa Wanja was a Bulgarian actress based in Germany. She moved to Berlin to pursue her career, appearing in around thirty German films. Married to Norbert Schultze, German composer, best remembered for having written the melody of the World War II classic Lili Marleen.

Karl Weber (1897-1965) was a German art director. He frequently worked alongside Erich Zander designing film sets.


  1. "The 100 Greatest Braunschweiger", Braunschweiger Zeitung Special, Issue 1, 2005.