The secrets of a pipe organ

Restoring the pipe organ of the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, turned out to be quite a time travel. 

Öttingen, Bavaria, Germany. January 8, 1930. August Sieber is an organ builder for G. F. Steinmeyer. A huge pipe organ is almost ready to be shipped by railroad to Norway, where it will be the pride of the Nidaros Cathedral in the city of Trondheim. Then August Sieber does a strange thing. He puts twelve Reichsmark notes in a windchest, from one Reichsmark to 500 million Reichsmarks worth. He wrote a note and put it in there with the money.

Easy to hide a few bills in there. Photo credit: www.trdevents.com

Easy to hide a few bills in there. Photo credit: http://www.trdevents.com

The organ found its home and performed splendidly for decades. In the 1960’s, Steinmeyer people came to move it and rebuild it, yet nobody ever discovered it was filled not only with music, but with millions of Reichsmark. Until now, when the money was found during a complete restoration.

Why did August Sieber do this? This was eight days into 1930. The previous decade had been a hard one. Germany was trying to recover after World War I, also economically, and since 1923 the government had taken measures to stop the hyperinflation. The money was worth nothing. And then there was that Tuesday, just a couple of months earlier, called Black Tuesday. The Wall Street Crash. The new decade didn’t look promising.

 

“When Germany lost the war against the whole world 1914-18, the entire state of Germany broke down. Everything was kaputt and bankrupt, there was no money. With the inflation came money, as you will see if this is ever found. Placed by August Sieber, organ builder, Öttingen 8. 1. 1930″.

A bit of a funny story, but more than that a story which reflects the hardships of ordinary people during a particular time in history.

 

By Unni Holtedahl, September 2013

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