17 April 1888
Jerichow, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
16 July 1954 (aged 66)
Born Ferdinand Friedrich Hermann Nielebock on April 17th 1888 in the small German village of Brandenburg, Herms Niel left school in 1902 and served his early musical apprenticeship in the small town band of Gethin. In 1906 he joined the Kaiser’s Army as a trombonist in the band of the First Infantry Guard Regiment (1. Garderegiment zu Fuss) seeing service through the whole of World War One as a sergeant band-leader before finally being demobilised in 1919.
In the tough years immediately following the Great War, Herms Niel earned a living as a civilian band-master and composer, until the dawning of the Third Reich when he joined the Sturm Abteilung in 1934 as a troop-leader before gaining promotion to Musikmeister of the famous Reichsarbeitsdienst training establishment at Potsdam.
Becoming a Professor of Music in 1941, his prolific musical composition output was unmatched throughout World War Two and he very soon became Nazi Germany's best loved and most famous composer of military marching songs, known as the unofficial "March King" of the Third Reich. Some of his most famous compositions include "Erika", "Edelweiß", "Fallschirmjägerlied" and "Kamerad, wir marschieren im Westen" (also known as the Frankreich Lied). Herms Niel died in 1954 in Berlin.
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