The Pianist who spoke his mind and was killed for it.


Regardless how talented you were, or how much value you could add to the German culture, if you didn’t comply to the Nazi ideology or dared to criticize it, you stood a good chance of getting executed.

Karlrobert Kreiten born 26 June 1916,  in Bonn, Germany) was a Dutch-German pianist,  holding Dutch citizenship his short life because of his Dutch father. He was a promising pianist, described by conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler as the most talented young pianist in Germany.

concert announcement

He made his debut at the age of eleven with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto in A major in a live broadcast. His father was a Dutch composer and pianist, and his mother was a classical singer who performed under the stage name Emmy Kreiten-Barido. Karlrobert studied with the Chilean pianist Claudio Arrau in Berlin, and at the Music Academy.

son & mother

In early 1943 Kreiten moved to Berlin and began practising for his upcoming concerts at the house of his mother’s friend Ellen Ott-Monecke, who had offered her salon and piano until he would  find suitable accommodation.

Ellen Ott-Monecke who was a fanatic Nazi supporter,unbeknownst to Kreiten, one day he relayed his views on Hitler to Ott-Monecke. He had told her that Hitler was ‘brutal, sick and insane,’ and was responsible for starting the war. He also continued saying  that there would be a revolution in which Hitler, Goering and Goebbels would be ‘made a head shorter.’

Ellen Ott-Monecke reported this to the Gestapo He was indicted at the Volksgerichtshof (the ‘People’s Court’) for being a ‘threat to victory,’ and sentenced to death.

Volksgerichtshof, Reinecke, Freisler, Lautz

Roland Freisler,, presided over the trial and stated that Kreiten’s crime was ‘public’ and he could therefore face the death sentence. Freisler wanted to make an example of Kreiten at the trial, commenting  that, “whoever acts as Kreiten did, is doing precisely as our enemies wish. He becomes the henchman in their war of nerves against the steadfastness of our people”


Friends and family desperately tried to save his life, but alas to no avail. The Kreiten family  only accidentally learned, via an anonymous phone call.  that Karlrobert had been executed by hanging, with 185 other inmates, at Plötzensee prison, om September 7 1943.


Press coverage of the trial painted the pianist as a traitor, including articles written by Nazi propagandist Werner Höfer.  When the false articles by Werner Höfer  about Kreiten became known to a wider public  in 1987 he had to retire.

in convert


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