The Heiberg and Schröder Families
Carl Heiberg (10), the father of Nanny Heiberg (5), had been a lawyer in the city of Schleswig, but now, in 1864, he
ran a bookstore. To explain how this came about I must make a few historical remarks about the Duchies of Schleswig,
adjacent to Denmark, and Holstein to the south. These duchies had been subject to the kings of Denmark for several
centuries. But while Danish was spoken in the northern part of Schleswig, only German was spoken in its southern part
and in Holstein. This difference of language was originally not felt to be very significant, but after the French revolution
the people became aware of their nationality, mainly defined by their language.
In 1848 the Germans in Schleswig-Holstein rebelled against their Danish ruler. They wanted to be independent of
Denmark and have their own duke they claimed to be entitled to. Carl Heiberg played a considerable role in this
uprising through his writings. Also he proposed the colors of the flag, blue, white, red, for the new independent duchies
to be reestablished. But the uprising failed. Because of this support of the uprising, Heiberg was not allowed by the
Danish government to remain a lawyer. To make a living, Heiberg started to run a bookstore.
I should like to relate an incident that happened in one of the restrictive years after 1848. My grandmother, Nanny (5),
and two other girls, then about 14 years old, were walking somewhere outside of the city, one girl wearing a blue, one a
white, and one a red dress, when some Danish sergeants approached them and rebuked them for displaying the
forbidden color combination. The girls claimed it was a coincidence. This incident aroused a big fuss in Copenhagen and
Carl Heiberg had to pay a heavy fine. I asked my grandmother many years later, whether that was really a coincidence.
Of course not, she answered.
After 1848 the Danish government had tried to force the Danish language on the people of the duchy of Schleswig, but
without success. Still, many educated Germans in this area knew Danish more or less. I am rather sure that my
grandmother, Nanny, understood some Danish; her mother was even bilingual since she had lived in Denmark as a child
and young teenager. My father, Nanny's son, could read Danish and sometimes did.
In 1864 the desired independence from Denmark was attained after a successful war that Prussia and Austria had made
on Denmark; but, to the great disappointment of the people of Schleswig-Holstein, these duchies were annexed by
In the course of years, however, most Germans in Schleswig--Holstein accepted this situation and their feelings against
Prussia gradually subsided and also their feelings against Denmark mellowed.
Carl Heiberg (10) was born in 1796 in a small village north of the city of Schleswig as an illegitimate child.*
*In the report of his birth in the church records of the village, the parentage of Carl Heiberg is falsified.
His mother was Anna Marianne (Nannette) von Schwarzenfeld, who at that time stayed with friends, a physician and his
wife, in Schleswig. To cover up the illegitimacy, it was said that the child had been found on a haystack, a Heuberg in
German. The child was named Carl Friedrich Heuberg; the name Heuberg was later changed to Heiberg. Carl grew up
with the physician couple mentioned above. At his confirmation he was told that the aunt who had sent him gifts each
Christmas was really his mother, but he did not see her then. In fact, he visited her for the first time together with his wife
in 1835, right after his marriage.**
** In the report of this marriage in the church records in Schleswig the parentage of Carl Heiberg is falsified.
Carl grew up as a shy and modest child, displaying, as a teenager, an interest in philosophy and also in art and music.
Later on he went to various universities, among them the University of Berlin, where he took a course with the
philosopher Hegel. A slip on which Hegel certified that Heiberg had taken the course successfully is in my son
Christopher's possession. Actually, Heiberg was mainly a student of law. In 1823 he established himself as a lawyer in
Schleswig. He wrote profusely, mainly about the political situation. On account of that he received in 1830 an honorary
doctorâ€™s degree from the University of Rostock (which is at the Baltic Sea to the east of Kiel). After the defeat of
1848, Heiberg had to leave the country, but was permitted to return somewhat later. In 1857 he founded a book and
music store. After 1864, under the Prussian regime, he was again allowed to be a lawyer. In all these years he played a
considerable role in the intellectual life of Schleswig. He died in 1872.
Chart of Heiberg - Schroder Decendents
Heiberg's mother, Nannette von Schwarzenfeld (21), had come from Vienna. Her father, Franz Carl, born in Prague,
was a captain in the Austrian army. He died early. When Nannette was about 14 years old she entered a theater school
In the years from 1781 to 1785, Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, the greatest actor and theater director in Germany at that
time, played with his troupe at the Hoftheater in Vienna. There, he met Nannette, then an orphan. When Schröder and
his wife returned to Hamburg (1785) where he had his headquarters, they took Nannette along. She was then about 19
years old. In Schröder's theater Nannette played at first mostly boy's and girl's parts. Apparently she played only a
limited number of years.
After she ceased to be an actress, Nannette continued to live with Schröder and his childless wife in their country home
in Rellingen, not far from Hamburg. After the death of Schröder (1816) and the death of his wife (1829), Nannette
inherited their fortune. (We have in our possession the bank accounts of Schröder's wife from the time after his death
and various silver pieces.) Nannette died in the Schröder's country home in 1846.
The family tradition and the opinion of biographers, who have written about Schröder and Heiberg, is that the father of
Carl Heiberg, born 1796, was Schröder himself. My father, who was a lawyer, wrote a very careful and convincing
"lawyer's brief" to prove this. One must assume that Heiberg knew that Schröder was his father. There are definite
indications implying this.
About the person of F. L.Schröder and his role as an actor, I can make only a few remarks. First of all I mention that
Schröder's paternity is also clouded. Schröder's mother, Sophie Charlotte Biereichel (41), the daughter of a court
goldstitcher (82) in Berlin, married an organist Diedrich Schröder in 1734. But, the marriage did not last long; the couple
separated - without divorce - in 1738. Sophie Charlotte then joined a travelling theater group, which somewhat later
was run very successfully by Conrad Ackermann, the son of a Paechter in Mecklenburg and his wife Sophia Metta
In 1744, a son was born to Sophie Charlotte; he was named Friedrich Ludwig Schröder. In 1749, while the theater
group was in Moscow, Sophie Charlotte married Conrad Ackermann. It must be assumed that at that time it was
known that Diedrich Schröder had died.
The story is told that Diedrich Schröder, described as a drunkard, had visited Sophie Charlotte in January or February
1744 at the place where she was at that time and had fathered the child.
That story is most unlikely; it was probably invented to cover up the illegitimate birth of the child. One must assume that
Ackermann was the father of F. L. Schröder. This assumption is also made, as a matter of course, in a recent biography
of F. L. Schröder.
Friedrich Ludwig Schröder grew up under awkward circumstances since his parents constantly traveled, except for one
year in Königsberg (1755), where Ackermann had built a theater. There F. L. Schröder, then 11 years old, went to a
regular school for one year. Soon after that Schröder made himself independent, but met his parents again, when he was
15 years old. Then he started training to become an actor and a dancer. In 1764 he joined the theater that Ackermann
had founded in Hamburg. When Ackermann had died, 1771, Schröder took over. After his last performance, in 1798,
he withdrew to his country home in Rellingen. He died in 1816.
Several books and articles have been written describing Schröder’s role as an actor and director, and also his great role
Go to Chapter 7 Go to main History page