Louis Schneider

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Louis Schneider

Louis Schneider (actually Ludwig Wilhelm Schneider ; pseud. Sir John Retcliff , Louis Both , Ludwig Both , LW Both ; born April 29, 1805 in Berlin , † December 16, 1878 in Potsdam ) was an actor, theater poet, military writer, publicist and reader two Prussian kings. He is known as a member of the tunnel over the Spree and promoter of the young talents in this literary Sunday association. In military studies he made a name for himself with his military writings, especially the publication of the Soldier Friend .


He started playing children's roles at the age of eight. Of great versatility as an actor and singer, he fell to King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1823 . from Prussia through his drama, but even more through his military writings. As an actor, he also wrote many plays.

In 1830 Schneider wrote a set of instructions for the Landwehrmann , which led to a circulation of 84,000 pieces. For the soldiers of the standing army, in May 1832, the Soldier's Friend, a reading booklet for the Prussian infantrymen, was also very successful with 211,000 copies .

The magazine The Soldier Friend. The magazine for the comprehensible instruction and entertainment of the Prussian soldier was published from July 1833 to July 1914 and was probably one of the most important, if not the most important, military magazines in the German-speaking area. It is of inestimable value to the military historian and army scientist because it accompanied the development of the Prussian army over 80 years. Schneider was the publisher and editor until the end of his life.

The specialty of the soldier friend was that it was intended for the NCO and soldier. There were already quite a few newspapers and magazines for officers, but one for the 'common man' was a novelty in Prussia. A weekly until 1848, it was published monthly thereafter. The model was the Journal de l'Armée in Paris , which has also been published since 1833 .

In 1848 he became director of the Royal Theater in Berlin. In the revolutionary year of 1848 he campaigned for the return of the Prince of Prussia (later Wilhelm I ) from exile and gave him a mouthpiece in particular with the military newspaper . The Prince of Prussia wrote many of the articles in this newspaper anonymously himself.

The year 1848 marked a turning point in Schneider's life. His loyal and conservative attitude seduced him to trigger a stage scandal. During the performance of his play “Der Kurmärker und die Picarde” he had to sing the well-known song O Tannenbaum , the verse of which was: “Loyalty and constancy should be kept at all times”. . . he presented to the audience with a defiant gesture. The democratically-minded audience responded with hissing , whistling and pounding, and when Schneider repeated the verses again in the same way, a theatrical scandal broke out so tremendously that he was compelled to take his leave from the stage.

Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Had Schneider called to him and rewarded him by appointing him as a "reader" and by being awarded the title of court councilor. In his new position, Schneider represented the cheerful element in art and literature at court. To a certain extent he made the Berlin joke, which the king himself always liked very much, acceptable. Under the state of siege, he saved the threatened existence of the Kladderadatsch and protected the then editor David Kalisch from deportation. Otherwise he used his influence in a discreet way for the benefit of his former colleagues and literary friends, especially the members of the "tunnel over the Spree". The poet Ernst Scherenberg was given a pension mainly for its use. He also retained a caring attitude towards his former fellow actors. He founded the first pension fund for German stage members. He also founded the Association for the History of Berlin (1865) and Potsdam (1862) after having proven his thorough knowledge of this area through several historical works. He chaired the Association for the History of Berlin from 1868 to 1878 and thus had a decisive influence on the founding years.

His great dexterity, his talent for languages, his personal kindness and his reliability and discretion earned him the trust of the king. Schneider became a constant companion of Friedrich Wilhelm IV on his travels. The Russian tsar placed particular trust in him, and Schneider always had to appear before him when he visited Berlin. He was very familiar with all Russian affairs and has written reports from St. Petersburg for the Kreuzzeitung .

In the Schleswig-Holstein campaign he became the first Prussian war correspondent, because newspaper editors in the troops were unknown until then.

After the death of Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Schneider could no longer remain in his previous position. He was entrusted with the supervision of the royal private library and promoted to the privy councilor. In this capacity he accompanied the king as secretary and official reporter for the state gazette during the Austrian campaign. He also took part in the war against France in 1870/71 as the king's companion; he writes in his memoirs a. a. about how as a Freemason at Versailles he was involved in preparing the establishment of a field lodge .

In the service of Wilhelm I , he also held functions as his press spokesman and minor diplomatic missions. As an arch-conservative, legitimist admirer of the Prussian monarchy and the autocratic tsar, he was soon the subject of ridicule in the poets' association “Tunnel over the Spree”. But Theodor Fontane extensively honors his services as a sponsor of young talent in his memoirs.

After his return from France Schneider lived in Potsdam, where he still wrote fundamental works of religious orders .

Fonts (selection)

Serial works


  • Karl Wippermann:  Schneider, Ludwig . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 32, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1891, pp. 134-142.
  • Roland Berbig: From the »Tunnel« archive: Louis Schneider: History of the Sunday Association in the first 10 years of its existence. In: Fontane Blätter , Heft 50, 1990, pp. 10-17, ISSN  0015-6175 .
  • Roland Berbig: The soldier friend. In: Theodor Fontane in literary life. Newspapers, magazines, publishers and associations. Portrayed by Roland Berbig with the assistance of Bettina Hartz. Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-11-016293-8 , pp. 109-113 (writings of the Theodor Fontane Society, 3).
  • Lore shadow: Louis Schneider. Portrait of a Berliner. In: Yearbook of the Association for the History of Berlin , Berlin 1958, pp. 116–141.
  • Rolf Badenhausen (Hrsg.): The picture inventory of the theater collection Louis Schneider in the museum of the Prussian State Theater Berlin. Systematic catalog. Society for theater history, Berlin 1938 (writings of the society for theater history, 50).
  • Max Ring: Louis Schneider. A memorial sheet. In: Deutsches Mondagsblatt , Volume 2, No. 51, 1878, p. 5.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Christian Fastl, Art. "Schneider, Louis (own Ludwig Wilhelm; pseud. Sir John Retcliff, Louis Both, Ludwig Both, LW Both)", in: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon online, accessed: May 26, 2020 (https: // www.musiklexikon.ac.at/ml/musik_S/Schneider_Louis.xml).
  2. Martin Mende: 150 Years Association for the History of Berlin , Berlin 2015.
  3. From my life . Volume III. 2nd Edition. Verlag ES Mittler & Sohn, Berlin 1880, p. 352 f.