From Jewish Stories and Hebrew Melodies, Introduction, page 3
Many know Heine as the author of the most famous German ballad about the fisherman who came to grief in his boat, on a rock in a bend of the river. Every child in Germany learns the “Lorelei” and sings it to the tune by Friedrich Silcher. Although Heine’s books were burned by the Nazis, there was no way of expunging this song from the inward ears of generations. Its text appeared in anthologies, its author un-identified as “anonymous.” But the song was sung also in defiance. A class of school children in World War II huddled in an air raid shelter during an Allied bombing raid. When the sound of explosions penetrated concrete walls and a tight steel door, the teacher had her anxious charges intone the “Lorelei.” This story is related by the sculptor Gert Gerresheim, himself one of those children at the time, later the artificer of an impressive memorial sculpture to Heine in Düsseldorf.
And there is Heine, the Jew, scorned for not being Jewish enough and disdained for infusing everything he wrote with his Jewishness. This Heine is receiving scrupulous and salutary attention, not only in Germany: S. S. Prawer, Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature, University of Oxford, has recently completed an exhaustive study, Heine’s Jewish Comedy, where he evaluates every single Jew appearing in Heine’s writings and all references to Judaism.