Historical Figures

Singer Alexandra:A short life and a mysterious death

80 years ago the singer Alexandra was born. Her career with hits like "My friend, the tree" only lasted two years. In 1969 she had an accident in Tellingstedt, Schleswig-Holstein - her death remains a mystery.

The singer Alexandra, whose real name is Doris Nefedov, is considered one of the biggest hit hopes in Germany in the 1960s. Her trademarks include her sophisticated appearance and her deep timbre in the alto voice. Melancholic hits like "Zigeunerjunge" or "Mein Freund, der Baum" make her famous - even beyond Germany. Alexandra works with Udo Jürgens and French chansonniers, she is a favorite of the critics. Her rapid career ended abruptly with her early death - she died in a car accident on a country road in the district of Dithmarschen at the age of just 27.

1944:Escape from the Red Army to Kiel

Alexandra was born as Doris Wally Treitz on May 19, 1942 in Heydekrug in East Prussia. It is the easternmost city of the then German Empire, not far from the Curonian Lagoon. She is the youngest of the three daughters of August Treitz and Wally Swetosch.

When the Red Army advanced into Memelland in 1944, the family fled west and finally reached Schleswig-Holstein via Saxony. Kiel becomes the new home, where Doris grows up in middle-class conditions. The father works as a legal secretary. She first attended elementary school, then a girls' high school, the Ricarda Huch School. Doris is a creative child:she sings, dances and paints. She started playing the piano at the age of ten. She is in the church choir and eventually buys a guitar with the first money she earns herself and begins to write songs and poems.

1961:Move to Hamburg with mother and sister

"It's just lost time for me," she later says as singer Alexandra about the school. Two years before graduating from high school, Doris quit and began studying graphics at the Muthesius Art Academy in Kiel in 1959. Besides, she works. In 1961 she moved to Hamburg, to the Rothenburgsort district, together with her divorced mother and her sister. In the Hanseatic city, Doris attended the master school for fashion, and the then 20-year-old also sang Slavic songs and her own compositions in bars and pubs in Hamburg's red-light district. She also works as a shorthand typist in a Hamburg publishing house, then as a secretary in a Hanseatic forwarding agency.

1962:Married to the much older Nikolai Nefedov

After Alexandra's death, father and son sold their records even better.

At the age of 19 she falls in love with Nikolai Nefedov, who lives with her family. The Russian emigrant is 30 years older than Doris. The couple married in 1962 and their son Alexander was born a year later. However, the plan to emigrate to the USA failed in 1964, as did the young marriage a little later. Doris and Alexander stay in Germany.

Acting training with UFA star Margot Höpfner

Doris Nefedov still dreams of a career as a singer and actress. She attends the acting school of former UFA star Margot Höpfner in Hamburg. In order to earn money, she works part-time as a draftswoman. Margot Höpfner recognizes her talent, especially the power of her voice. In 1965, immediately after completing her training, Doris got an engagement at a theater in Neumünster, where she acted in John Carlino's one-act play "Käfige". She also takes singing lessons and performs with the folk-rock group City Preachers, which later also includes Inga Rumpf and Udo Lindenberg.

Doris Nefedov becomes hit star Alexandra

In June 1967 Alexandra released her first album. With her songs she is a popular guest in the ZDF hit parade.

Music producer Fred Weyrich became aware of the singer's distinctive voice. He likes that she also sings in Russian. He gives the young woman a five-year contract with a record company. Hans R. Beierlein from the Montana agency takes Doris Nefedov under his wing. The music publisher and promoter manages Udo Jürgens and promotes French chanson on the German music market. Under the name Alexandra, he builds the young singer up to become a star. With her extraordinary charisma and her melancholic songs full of longing, she serves a hitherto unprecedented format in the hit industry:the Russian romance.

In 1967 her hits "Zigeunerjunge", "Sehnsucht" - which she does not like at all - and the first record appear. In the same year she tours with the Hazy-Osterwald-Sextett in the country of her childhood - and as far as Yerevan. Alexandra breaks through as a singer.

"My friend the tree":Alexandra sheds folklore image

But Alexandra wants to do more than just sing Slavic-folkloric titles like "Kleine Anuschka" or "Schwarze Balalaika". She seeks contact with chansonniers such as Gilbert Bécaud, Salvatore Adamo and Yves Montand. And she writes and composes her own pieces in 1968, such as the eco-hymn "My friend, the tree". "She was ahead of her time with her texts and themes," Beierlein told the tabloid "Neue Post" many years later.

Alexandra becomes friends with Udo Jürgens, and their collaboration results in "Illusions":He composes, she writes the lyrics. Critics complain that their songs go to the heart but not to the ears. Alexandra doesn't mind, it's a compliment for her, she says in an interview with Saarland radio. In 1968 she received the "Goldene Europa", the oldest German television prize. At a music festival in Brazil, Alexandra gets to know the bossa nova composer Antônio Carlos Jobim better. TV director Truck Branss captured this journey with his camera for the ARD series "Portraits in Music".

Alexandra is under mental and physical pressure

Alexandra travels a lot for work. In her private life things are no less calm:she moves to Munich in the fall of 1968 with her mother and son. When she wants to visit her father in Hamburg in early 1969, she finds him dead. In Amsterdam she meets the Franco-American Pierre Lafaire - and becomes engaged to him. However, the relationship is not happy and the couple separates again.

The singer gets an offer for a 90-day tour of the USA. But the quick fame also puts the young mother under pressure, and she often feels like she is being driven. And she is not who she wants to be:Alexandra is in poor health, both physically and mentally. Doctors advise her to slow down.

Alexandra died in an accident in Dithmarschen in 1969

Alexandra's accident site in Tellingstedt became a place of pilgrimage for many fans.

After three years of non-stop work, Alexandra decides to go on vacation. On the evening of July 30, 1969, she sets off from Munich to Hamburg by car train with her mother Wally and her son Alexander. From there, the small family wants to travel on to Sylt in their overhauled Mercedes. In Tellingstedt, a truck crashes into the car at an intersection that is difficult to see, pushing it off the road. The singer had probably overlooked a stop sign. Alexandra dies at the scene of the accident, her mother a little later in the hospital in Heide. Only the then six-year-old Alexander survived with minor injuries in the back seat. The scene of the accident develops into a place of pilgrimage, fans put flowers. The funeral will take place on August 5th in Munich.

Alexandra's accidental death becomes a mystery

To this day, myths surround Alexandra's accidental death, to which the previous behavior of the artist herself also contributes. A few days before the accident, Alexandra changes her will, increases her life insurance, pays her son's school fees a year in advance and buys a family grave. Marc Boettcher, dramaturge and filmmaker, began researching the Alexandra case in the 1980s. The trigger is a telephone conversation with Udo Jürgens. He tells him:"Alexandra is on my conscience." Marc Boettcher encounters half-truths and inconsistencies:Unknown persons broke into the morgue in which Alexandra was laid out the night after the accident. The crashed car was gone before it could be examined. The accident files had apparently also been manipulated. Marc Boettcher receives threatening phone calls warning him not to continue researching. But he keeps going:in 1999 his biography about Alexandra finally appears, as does his documentary in the same year; both titled "The Legend of a Singer". Both the biography and the film put Alexandra's death in a new light.

"Alexandra was a bad driver"

In Hamburg, the "Alexandra Stieg" commemorates the singer who died young.

In 2004, Marc Boettcher published new insights into his research. He finds out that Pierre Lafaire worked as a secret agent for the United States. When he got engaged to Alexandra, he was said to have already been married in Denmark. Marc Boettcher cites the authority's Stasi documents as the source. Manager Hans R. Beierlein does not want to join the conspiracy theories, he does not certify that Alexandra has good driving skills:she was a bad driver. "The accident happened because she wasn't careful," he told the "Neue Post" 40 years after Alexandra's accidental death.

Why Alexandra died on that summer day in July 1969 remains a mystery to some. For show greats like Frank Elstner, who knew her personally, she remains "an immortal". Her son Alexander also sees it this way in an interview with the "Kieler Nachrichten" on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her death in 2019:"Alexandra will not be forgotten."

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