Restauration Of The MIGHTY WURLITZER in 1963

After World War II, the Mighty Wurlitzer was still played, although it didn't belong to Werner Ferdinand von Siemens anymore. In such concerts Heinrich Riethmüller was one of the organists.

Heinrich Riethmüller in 1955 at the Mighty Wurlitzer

Unfortunately the console of this organ was severely damaged by a fire, which was caused by a careless cigarette in August 1962.

damaged organ

No one ever thought, that this organ would play again!

damaged organ

Marvin E. Merchant was an American G.I. and organ enthousiast, who was stationed in Berlin with the U.S. Army in Andrews Barracks from 1962 till 1965. He had heard about the damaged organ, and asked to inspect it.

Because the people in charge of the property thought, the organ could never be repaired, they let Marvin E. Mechant inspect the organ. He still wanted to repair the console, so they made a contract with him, that he may repair the organ at his own risk. The contract says also, that he would not be re-imbursed for his work, but that's not enough: he had to pay all the materials he needed, except for the electrical wire & switches that control the blowers, which will be paid by the German government.

Repairing wiring & contacts

Febrauary in 1963 Marvin E. Merchant starts working on the console. He had to remove all manuals, and inspect contacts, wiring, the backrail and all stopkeys.

First two manuals installed

He ordered new keys for the keyboards from a keyboard mfg. company in Berlin. The first two manuals were installed.

Four manuals and backrail installed

All four manuals and the backrail are installed. Marvin E. Merchant made the backrail in the craft shop at the baracks.

Finished at last!

Finished at last in December 1963! All the new stopkeys were drilled and hand fitted & installed.


The German government was very astonished and pleased, that the Mighty Wurlitzer was reborn and playing again, not pleased enough to pay for the work, but enough to present Marvin E. Merchant a Certificate of Gratitude.


If this American soldier from Kansas City wouldn't have had the courage to repair the console of the Mighty Wurlitzer, no one could know, the only remaining Wurlitzer organ in Germany would be exisiting and could be played and enjoyed today.


Thank you, Marvin E. Merchant!


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