Willi Schmid

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Willi Schmid in 1930

Wilhelm Eduard Schmid (April 12, 1893 – June 30, 1934), better known as Willi Schmid, was a German music critic, and an accidental victim of the Night of the Long Knives in a case of mistaken identity.


Schmid studied music under Christian Döbereiner, and founded the Munich Viol Quartet.[1] He was also a well-respected music critic, and wrote for the Münchener Neueste Nachrichten.[2]

He was killed by the Nazi SS during the Night of the Long Knives because his name was similar to one of the intended targets, apparently either an SA leader named Willi Schmidt,[3][4] or an associate of Otto Strasser named Ludwig Schmitt.[5] William Shirer's account in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich mentions that Schmid was playing the cello in his study, while his wife was preparing supper and his three children were playing in the adjacent room, when Nazi agents knocked on the door and took him away. His body was sent to his widow in a casket four days later, with written instructions from the SS not to open it under any circumstances.

Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess visited the family a few days later to express condolences for the mistake and offer his widow a pension.[4] Schmid's widow, Kate Eva Hoerlin, later emigrated to the United States and became a US citizen in 1944. She died there in 1985.

Schmid's friend, the philosopher Oswald Spengler, commemorated him in a poem and letter in Reden und Aufsätze (Collected Essays, published in 1937). Schmid's daughter Duscha would go on to marry the Austro-American theoretical physicist Victor Weisskopf, and later wrote a book about her father, Willi Schmid: A Life in Germany.


  1. ^ Harry Haskell (1996). The Early Music Revival: A History. Courier Dover. p. 45. ISBN 0-486-29162-6.
  2. ^ William L. Shirer (1990). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. Simon and Schuster. p. 223. ISBN 0-671-72868-7.
  3. ^ Gunther, John (1940). Inside Europe. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 51.
  4. ^ a b Matthew Hughes and Chris Mann (2002). Inside Hitler's Germany: Life Under the Third Reich. Brassey's. p. 98. ISBN 1-57488-503-0.
  5. ^ Ian Kershaw (2000). Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris. W. W. Norton & Co. p. 515. ISBN 0-393-04671-0.