The Hohner Liliput: war veteran or hiking buddy?

Hohner Liliput Melodeon compared with Hohner Pokerwork

The star of this blog post is small, very small, tiny one might say -at least for a full 2.5-row/2-voice button box. This is what we are talking about:

The Hohner Liliput went into production during the Nazi-era as early as 1935 and was produced until 1940. It’s sibling the Preciosa was even produced until 1943. It’s commonly believed that these accordions were made for soldiers:

Accordions accompanied German soldiers and officers to the front. To this end, Hohner designed instruments that were small and lightweight for soldiers to stow easily in a rucksack. Today, the Preciosa and Liliput are much sought after accordions.

While that surely reads spectacular, it should be kept in mind that the war started in September 1939. So quite a bit after the initial production in 1935. I believe that – though these accordions were surely taken to war by some soldiers – they were initially made for hiking.

Blog Mellisa’s Melodeons

A much more reconciliatory story about Liliputs can be found on the Blog Mellisa’s Melodeons:

I recently played my little Hohner Liliput to my mother who is 83. She immediately recognized the instrument and came up with an interesting story.
Just after the war in the late 40’s she went on a walking holiday in the Swiss and Italian Alps guided by a former member of the French Resistance. Apparently whenever they met German hikers in chalets and inns, the German’s produced little accordions out of their rucksacks just like the Liliput and played and sang. Given that at that time in history Germans were not the most popular people in Europe, these little accordions did a lot to break down ill will and establish friendship between people who only a year or two before had been killing each other. 
Now that’s a nice thing to know about melodeons.

Either way, isn’t it exciting to think about what these boxes might have seen and where they might have been?

I have been looking for Liliputs for some time now and am happy to have found a couple that I am going to carefully restore and convert to modern day keys and tunings.

If you are interested in the fate of my Liliputs, or even want to buy a restored one, you can subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know when it hits the shelf.


  • Lucinda Nelson

    Hello. I have a Hohner Liliput B flat E flat. Do you play this instrument?

    I need a tip: for the song Danny Boy, also known as Derry Air, Or Londonderry Air. I am completely stumped on the base (left had accompaniment) for the song, any ideas?

    My instrument does need work but not abe to send for repair any time soon. And I am wondering why folks are changing it to C G, can you fill me in?

    Thank you.

    Lucinda Nelson

    • OleCarstensen

      Hi Lucinda, G/C is the (EU continental) standard tuning. Most tutors assume an instrument in this key. However, often you will be able to use such tutors also with an instrument in a different key. It will just sound transposed, so you can’t play along but the instrument is the same. For learning how to play the diatonic button accordion, I always advise this tutor: It’s how I taught myself how to play. Cheers, Ole

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