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A piece of Zeiler history: 100 years of Göllersaal.

Updated: May 3, 2023

Local historian Ludwig Leisentritt looks back on old times;

Published LANDKREIS HASSBERGE July 3, 2020 Translated by Gerard Toenjes

An old drawing by the former mayor of Zeil, Rudolf Winkler, of the "Alte Freyung," as the Göller building is called. This was drawn before the 1920 addition of the Göllersaal. Brauerei Göller today includes two buildings: one from the 16th Century and one built in 1920.

Zeil — On May 1, 1920, the Göller innkeepers opened their new guest rooms on the ground floor and a new hall in the upper floor of the new building. The former grand courtyard was replaced by this new building made of Zeiler sandstone. The eastern, half-timbered building that used to be in the courtyard, once used as the municipal tax office where the citizens of the Zeil district were required to pay up, was replaced with the new building as well. Thus, in 1920 (now over 100 years ago) began the eventful history of this dance/event hall, which would become well-known far beyond Zeil. The hall would become a centerpiece of Zeil history.

1908 Josef and Margaret Göller moved from Drosendorf (near Bamberg) to acquire the historic property from the previous owner, Georg Weinig. Margaret entertained the guests until the end of the First World War in the main house.

The Göllersaal (Göller Hall) was added on in 1920 to provide new guest rooms and larger hall for events. Top politicians of the two main parties had meetings here during these years. The List of prominent politicians who gave speeches at the Göllersaal is long. For two long hours the Social Democratic Chancellor Hermann Müller spoke in 1928. After the War, some notable speakers were Helmut Schmidt, Herbert Wehner, Hans-Jochen Vogel, Willy Brandt and Johannes Rau, all from the Social Democrat Party (SPD). From the CSU (Christian Social Union) it was Franz-Josef Strauss, who probably gave the longest speech in this room, as well as Hans Ehard, Peter Lorenz, Fritz Zimmerman, Barbara Stamm and Markus Soder.

The Göllersaal played a significant role in Zeil after the Second World War not only for politicians, but also as the social focus of the today's Hassberg district. After the inauguration of thee Göllersaal in 1920, it was commonly said by other restauranteurs in Zeil: “Our's is never as full as the Göllersaal.”

For over one hundred years the Göllersaal has seen countless concerts, theater events and even operettas. Besides these, it hosted Holy Week Festivals, Christmas parties, meetings, company outings, film screenings and gatherings of all kinds. Even a poultry and rabbit exhibition was hosted in 1926. In 1924, the Zeiler Caritas Association invited the legendary violin virtuoso Jules Siber to "to make fine art accessible to the general public". The press described this event as a “most exquisite and noble pleasure” and referred to it as a folk education evening. However, the location was probably not really suitable for concerts. The clinking of glasses and beer bottles at the tavern drowned out the musicians.

A dark era dawned in 1933 when a delegation from the Hassfurt NSDAP (Nazi Party) marched into the hall with their "blood flag" and were greeted with a standing ovation. The blood flag referred to the banner that the Nazis used in a failed 1923 coup attempt in Munich. A year later the Zeiler newspaper was compelled to transmit the "Führer's speech" in the same hall.

At the start of the War in September 1939, troops were stationed in Zeil. After the rapid advance of Wehrmacht in the East, these troops were sent to Poland. Before the Nazis soldiers marched out, uniformed men set up in the Göllersaal to swear in recruits.

In 1944 The Göllersaal saw the the swearing-in by the Nazi Gauleiter (local leader), Eyrich, all men between 16 and 60 years of age for the Volkssturm, the civilian milita. In one Nazi party meeting, the Gauleiter Dr. Hellmuth demanded that all the women of Zeiler keep ready pots of boiling water to dump over the heads of invading American soldiers.

After the bombing of nearby Würzburg on March 16, 1945, thousands of civilians had to flee from the city, which was 90 percent destroyed. The Zeilers helped house some of these homeless people by filling the Göllersaal with straw for bedding. At the end of the War this hall was again used to house the many refugees. Bedsteads were quickly weaved together at the Zeil textile factory to provide places for these poor people.

In 1945 American soldiers stationed at Zeil began to play a big part in the music scene. Just as Napoleon's troops who lodged in Zeil around the year 1800 brought a change to the Zeiler music style, so did the American soldiers, who introduced Swing Dance. The liberators brought new sounds and rhythms into the country. The old fashioned wind and string music was no longer trendy on the dance floor. Every night from 9 to 11 p.m. American bands played Swing for the soldiers to dance to. The Zeiler kapelle (mountain chapel) was nicknamed the "Odeon" of Zeil.

The young musician Robert Fössel was paid ten Marks to play for two hours. On pen he was supposed to get only 6 Marks a week. Every evening big army trucks rolled in front of the hall with chocolate, cigarettes and soft drinks. Soldiers with duffel bags pushed into the hall for the evening dance, sometimnes through the open windows. Sebastian Popp wrote in his diary in June 1945: “We have 150 Americans, of whom two-thirds are Blacks in school. Every day there is dancing at the Göllersaal. There are always at least 20 girls from Kehlheim.”

The "fräuleins" poured into Zeil from the surrounding area. 50 years later a former US soldier who was stationed there in 1946 visited Zeil. He asked if the former young woman whom he had met was still around.

Many an American enjoyed a mug of stiff brew from the Göller Inn at that time. A special twelve-percent barley wine was reserved for US soldiers.

For a long time, the so-called Speiersgässer Fair, or "Hopfenkirchweih" took place two weeks after the regular Zeil Fair. There was always an extra brew made only for Speiersgässer Fair. Engelhard Wittig kept time at the edge of the dance floor with a beer mallet in hand, making sure that the Speiersgässers Brew went to swing dancers.

At dances held in the Steigerwald Forest, Göller brewed special beers for the so-called "wood thieves." In nearby Knetzgau a special brew was made for the "poachers."

The city of Zeil benefitted from the dance events as an important source of income. A hefty "amusement tax" was levied on dance music to help feed the poor. There were many poor to feed after the War, and these dances helped to balance the 1946 budget.

In 1949 the city council introduced the so-called "Emergency Fund" to promote the construction of new houses with low interest loans. Once again, they taxed ammusements such as the cinema, sports events, and above all dance events. For every ticket purchased a 10 cent tax was added. The levy was only abolished in 1969. In that year, Zeil hosted 75 dance events. The large Göller hall was therefore a large part of the city budget, which is why the city council has always been happy to support Göller.

Time and again, the pastors complained that dancing on Saturdays kept the faithful from their Sunday duty. Eventually, the introduction of a Saturday vigil Mass solved that problem.

The protection of young people also became a major concern in the post-war years. 16-17 year olds

often fell into the clutches of the strict gendarmes of Zeil, if they were not able to sneak out of the brewhouse in time - often with the help of adults - through a side exit into the courtyard or beer garden.

The legendary "Mambo Band", was closely connected to the Göllersaal. The Mambo Band became famous in the 1950's when boys and girls came from near and far to hear the sound of the Zeiler musicians. “Der Göller” was practically a pilgrimage site to these music fans. Many rode bicycles, others took buses. The town guides still talk about the “Mambo rave of Zeil."

Quite a few people met their future spouse in the Göllersaal. Ask some Zeiler grandpa or grandma if they remember the Mambo Band. Many still do. As young boys they used to repeat the motto: "Always follow the Mambos. Where they are, there are also the girls."

The former journalist, Schneider once confessed: "The Göllersaal with the Mambo was our second living room."

Together with Mambo the Göllersaal was the venue for well-known such as Gerd Böttcher, Drafi Deutscher, Peter Hinnen, Michael Holm, Tommy Hinnen, Michael Holm, Tommy Kent, Peter Leismann, Teddy Parker and Michael Schanze. Around 1970, a youth group from Ebelsbach organized numerous concerts with top German and European bands through an agency. The Ebelsbacher stuck posters at that time between Würzburg and Erlangen. Up to 800 visitors filled the hall at one time, when the Göller hosted the famous German Band, "The Lords." They hosted many other groups with big names.

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