The Feuerzangenbowle

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Memorial plaque for the writers Heinrich and Alexander Spoerl at their former school in Düsseldorf

The Feuerzangenbowle is the title of a novel from 1933 written by Heinrich Spoerl . The novel has been made into films several times, with the film version from 1944 being the best known.


The title comes from the fact that at the beginning a group of gentlemen tells stories from their school days over a Feuerzangenbowle . The successful young writer Johannes Pfeiffer cannot imagine the fun his friends had in school because he was brought up by a private tutor. His friends get the idea to send him to a real “penne” again. Dressed up young, he should experience all the jokes that were denied to him in his youth. Johannes Pfeiffer spins the thoughts of his friends further, in which he plays the craziest pranks on the teachers Crey, known as Schnauz, Bömmel and the director Knauer , and in which his girlfriend Marion tries to dissuade him from this crazy idea and to take him home . But Pfeiffer decides differently and remains the director's daughter because he has fallen in love with Eva. His story finally ends with his provoked expulsion from school; he reveals himself to be a successful writer.

Background and origin

The unsuccessful lawyer Spoerl tried his hand at writing as early as the 1920s. In 1926, together with his friend Hans Müller-Schlösser, he worked on a sequel to his successful piece Schneider Wibbel . In 1928 he designed a crime comedy entitled Der Seitensprung , which he offered to the Schauspielhaus in Düsseldorf a year later. After the rejection, he looked for a work partner who would edit the text in a theatrical manner. This was the Leipzig satirist and humorist Hans Reimann, who placed the common version under the title The accelerated passenger train in the Gustav Kiepenheuer stage sales. Then Spoerl worked on various project ideas and drafts, which he reported to Reimann in numerous letters, including The Muzzle . However, they only worked together again during a holiday together at Lake Starnberg, where, among other things, the synopsis for a sound film with the working title Der Flegel was created. Reimann, who had good connections, offered it to several film production companies. Because these plans failed, Spoerl reworked the text into a novel, which he titled Die Feuerzangenbowle and for which he took only a few suggestions from Reimann, most of which he deleted in a later edition. Reimann did not believe in the success of the novel and distanced himself from it. In fact, Spoerl initially offered it to several publishers without success. It was not until 1933 that his wife Trude succeeded in accommodating the text because of their friendly relations with the Droste family of publishers in Düsseldorf. After being printed at noon , the book edition of the Feuerzangenbowle was published by the Düsseldorf industrial publishing house; Otto Pankok designed the cover. After Spoerl's newspaper and book success, Reimann also succeeded in getting a production company interested in the material. At the end of 1933, Cicero-Film acquired the film rights. The script for the film, which came out a few months later under the title So ein Flegel with Heinz Rühmann in a double role, was written by Hans Reimann alone. Spoerl was not involved.

Harald Dzubilla, sole heir and estate administrator of Hans Reimann, with reference to Reimann's account and that the Federal Court of Justice in its judgment of 03.03.1959 - I ZR 17/58 - (OLG Munich ) noted that both authors "had the 'Feuerzangenbowle' published in 1933 under the name Spoerls and had agreed on the same profit sharing". Even at the premiere of the film "Der Flegel" in 1934, the name of Hans Reimann as a screenwriter was completely withheld and the director Robert A. Stemmle was named as the author in the opening credits because Reimann had fallen out of favor with the Nazis and some of his works were on the "List of Shameful Literature" had been set. Heinrich Spoerl, on the other hand, had no problems with the Nazis, entered the Reichsschriftkammer in 1935 and was received as a guest in the house of the President, Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels, as the Droste-Verlag did in the book he edited "Heinrich Spoerl - Book - Stage - Canvas " ( ISBN 3-7700-1187-2 ) describes.

Spoerl and Reimann took over the speech peculiarities of the fictional character Professor Crey from the humoresque The Visit in the Karzer by Ernst Eckstein , published in 1875 . According to Hans Reimann, the idea for "Die Feuerzangenbowle" arose after both authors had read the "Visit to the Karzer" .


After Spoerl's death, Hans Reimann passed himself off as the main author of the Feuerzangenbowle in his autobiography Mein bluues Wunder (1959) . Allegedly he was not allowed to publish under his name in the Third Reich and therefore put Spoerl as a front man. The list of dozens of titles he published between 1933 and 1945 proves just the opposite. The correspondence between Spoerl and Reimann as well as between Spoerl and his wife (today at the Heinrich Heine Institute in Düsseldorf) clearly shows that Reimann is only the author of the script for the first film adaptation. A legal dispute arose over the authorship.

The plaintiff and Reimann heir Harald Dzubilla also contradicts this representation. Hans Reimann published most of his works during the Nazi era under pseudonyms. The complete correspondence between Hans Reimann and Heinrich Spoerl about their collaboration at the "Feuerzangenbowle" was not available to the LG Hamburg because the Heinrich Heine Institute and the heirs of Heinrich Spoerl had refused to present these documents to the Hamburg regional court. The LG Hamburg has not decided that Hans Reimann is not a co-author of the work "Die Feuerzangenbowle" , but the court has kept this option open. It was decided that Heinrich Spoerl is considered the author because his name is on the book title.

Film adaptations

Such a flail, 1934

The script is not based on the novel, but on the film exposé jointly written by Spoerl and Reimann. Reimann and Stemmle's version of the material is based on the basic idea that the established writer Hans Pfeiffer, who was educated by private tutors and whose latest play is about to premiere, is swapping places with his boisterous younger brother, the senior prime minister Erich Pfeiffer. This is done in parallel in the film, until at the end of the booze Erich reveals his secret philistine and shopkeeping spirit. In this film, Rühmann portrays both Pfeiffer brothers. In the finale of the film, they are on the stage together on the premiere evening in the theater using a (long-proven) film technique (double exposure).

The Feuerzangenbowle, 1944

This film adaptation with Heinz Rühmann as Pfeiffer is by far the best known.

The Feuerzangenbowle, 1970

The film was made in the style of the Lümmel films , which were popular at the time , something that Käutner's collaboration could do little to change. The humor has little to do with that of the two predecessors.

radio play

For the first time in 1970, the Bayerischer Rundfunk broadcast Bernd Grashoff's 83-minute radio play adaptation of the material. Directed by Heinz-Günter Stamm . The music came from Raimund Rosenberger .

In the leading roles: Hans Clarin as Johannes Pfeiffer, Fritz Rémond as Prof. Dr. Crey, Paul Verhoeven as director Knauer, Margot Philipp as Eva, his daughter, Josef Meinertzhagen as physics teacher Bömmel, Thomas Piper as Ackermann and many more

Theater and musical

In 2004 a theater production of the Feuerzangenbowle premiered in Düsseldorf-Bilk and a musical version in Neu-Isenburg .

Since 2004 Die Feuerzangenbowle has been running every year between Christmas and New Year in the comedy in the Bayerischer Hof in Munich .

The Feuerzangenbowle has been performed in the Coburg State Theater since autumn 2006 .

In September 2008, Die Feuerzangenbowle was staged by Thomas Grahammer in Burgkirchen an der Alz as a co-production by Cabaret des Grauens and ANTHA .

In the summer of 2011, Die Feuerzangenbowle was staged by Adelheid Müther at the Castle Festival in Bad Vilbel .

In December 2015: Performance of the Feuerzangenbowle directed by Frank-Lorenz Engel in Frankfurt am Main in the Fritz Rémond Theater .


  • The Feuerzangenbowle. A rascal in the small town. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1933; 1974–2002 ibid, ISBN 3-7700-0025-0
  • The Feuerzangenbowle. A rascal in the small town. Piper Verlag, Munich a. Zurich 2002, ISBN 3-492-23510-7
  • The Feuerzangenbowle. Radio play version of Bayerischer Rundfunk (1970) by Bernd Grashoff (1 CD), Der Hörverlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-89940-969-7
  • Audio book : Götz Alsmann reads Die Feuerzangenbowle by Heinrich Spoerl. (4 CDs), Roof Music, Bochum 2003, ISBN 3-936186-34-0
  • The Feuerzangenbowle. A rascal in the small town. In: Heinrich Spoerl's Collected Works. R. Piper & Co., Munich 1963, pp. 91-214.


  • Torsten Körner: "A good friend" , Heinz-Rühmann-Biographie (Structure of Taschenbuch Verlag 2003, ISBN 3-7466-1925-4 )
  • Oliver Ohmann: "Heinz Rühmann and Die Feuerzangenbowle" . The story of a classic film (Lehmstedt-Verlag, 2010 ISBN 978-3-937146-98-0 )
  • Jan-Christian Hauschild : Heinrich and Alexander Spoerl , in: Düsseldorfer Wissensorte , ed. By Benedikt Mauer and Enno Stahl, Essen, Klartext Verlag 2nd edition, 2018, (sources and research on the history of the Lower Rhine, vol. 13), p 202-206, ISBN 9783837519440


  1. Jan-Christian Hauschild: Heinrich and Alexander Spoerl , in: Düsseldorfer Memories , Essen, 2nd edition, 2018, p. 205, ISBN 9783837519440
  2. ^ Ernst Eckstein : Collected School Humoresques - The visit to the detention center in the Gutenberg-DE project
  3. Decision of the LG Hamburg (Az. 324 O 962/08) of March 12, 2010 : Hans Reimann is not co-author of the novel Die Feuerzangenbowle.
  4. The Feuerzangenbowle. A cooperation between ANTHA and Cabaret des Horens.
  5. The Feuerzangenbowle. Bad Vilbel Castle Festival 2010