A distinctive quality of Curse of Lono’s style is his ability to reimagine bygone stories and past events through the laid-back atmosphere of his artful storytelling. It’s what drew many listeners to Felix Bechtolsheimer’s last album, People In Cars, which received widespread acclaim from the likes of CLASH, Record of the Day, Classic Rock Mag, METAL Magazine, Americana UK, Songwriting Magazine, and many more. The UK-based artist has carried over those hazy melodies and grainy-yet-soothing vocals in his newest single‘Krieger’, although with a deeper, more bruised ambience reflective of the heavy narrative contained in this personal narrative.

Here, Curse of Lono unpacks the true and poignant history behind ‘Krieger’:

“Krieger is a song about my grandfather’s uncle, Heinrich Schwarz, a German Jew and decorated First World War hero, known locally as ‘der Krieger’ (German for The Warrior). He fought as a foot soldier in the trenches in Flanders, at the Battle Of The Aisne and in the Battle Of The Somme. He lost both his brothers and his brother-in-law in the First World War.

After the war he spent his evenings drinking wine in the local bars. When the Nazis came to power, he would start arguments with the young Brown Shirts who would come into the bars bragging about their exploits and taunting him for being Jewish. Heinrich would laugh at them and tell them to go home to their mummies, “Don’t tell me what it means to be German,” he would say. “I fought for this country.”

The young Nazis ambushed Heinrich on his way home from the bars on numerous occasions, often beating him within an inch of his life. His family would spend hours looking for him, eventually finding him half dead in a ditch. But Heinrich couldn’t help himself. He would be back in the same bars, starting the same arguments a few days later.

One night in 1933, having had a few drinks, Heinrich was overheard saying that a local Jew had not committed suicide as reported by the authorities but had in fact been hanged by the Nazis whilst in protective custody. He also claimed that the Nazis had shot at women and children in the neighbouring village.

He was reported and taken to court where he pleaded with the judge, claiming it was the wine that made him say these things and that his incarceration would leave his wife Karoline unable to support herself. The judge showed no mercy and jailed him for three months. The subsequent revocation of Heinrich’s business license left him and Karoline penniless, and they were forced to move in with relatives in a nearby village. While he was able to withstand war in the trenches and beatings by the Nazis, the idea that his drunken words had destroyed the life of his beloved wife Karoline was a terrible burden for him to bare.   

Despite being a decorated war hero, Heinrich was one of the first jews in the small town of Alzey to be deported by the Nazis.

On 28th June 1938, only three months after the outbreak of the second World War, he was arrested and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp “for his own protection”.

He was moved to Buchenwald Concentration Camp on 23rd September that year, where he remained until he was shot on the 13th of April 1940.”

‘Krieger’ is a standalone single from Curse of Lono, a reminder of the individualism of his great-great-uncle whose powerful story of determination, outspokenness, and cruel end should not be forgotten. Accompanying the single is a captivating music video created and realised by artist Stefano Bertelli, whose unique style joins together the past and the present. From flashes of WWI trenches to a Curse of Lono performance in a modern-day bar, perhaps one very much like the place where Heinrich spent so many of his days.

Bertelli speaks to his artistic vision for the music video: “I try to understand with the help of the musical artist, the deeper meaning of the song, and then translate it into images. In this case, there is a story behind it that really happened, so I wanted to keep it true to reality though made in a paper world. That’s why I thought of reproducing a World War I trench with toy soldiers, as if it were a toy battlefield just abandoned by a child. But there is a truth behind it, and the contrast between the game of war, and the atrocity of real war, gives a deep sense of reflection. In my opinion, You don’t need to see blood to impress, you can do it in a more gentle way and strike deeper into the viewer’s soul.”

‘Krieger’ is out now via Submarine Cat Records.

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