Why was George Harrison deported from Germany?

George in the room above the Bambi Kino cinema

George Harrison was seventeen when he first arrived in Hamburg in August 1960. Though legal the age limit for performers was eighteen club owner Bruno Koschmider was initially unconcerned. 

It was when The Beatles jumped ship to work at the bigger Top Ten that Koschmider found his conscience stirred. He then informed the police of his shocking discovery. Those devious Englishmen had an underage performer in their ranks.

pen & ink sketch of Hamburg club owner Bruno Koschmider (1926-2000)

The police duly deported Harrison on November 21. The guitarist spent his last night teaching John Lennon his parts before reluctantly packing a "crappy suitcase and things in boxes, paper bags with my clothes in, and a guitar."

Homeward bound

The logistics of getting home proved challenging, as George related in Anthology:

Astrid and Stuart dropped me at Hamburg station. It was a long journey on my own on the train to the Hook of Holland. From there I got the day boat. It seemed to take ages and I didn’t have much money – I was praying I’d have enough. 

I had to get from Harwich to Liverpool Street Station and then a taxi across to Euston. From there I got a train to Liverpool.

I had an amplifier that I’d bought in Hamburg and too many things to carry and was standing in the corridor of the train with my belongings around me, and lots of soldiers on the train, drinking. I finally got to Liverpool and took a taxi home – I just about made it. I got home penniless. It took everything I had to get me back.


Back in Hamburg, Paul and Pete returned to their room to collect their things. Finding it totally in darkness, they created a makeshift lamp by the novel method of lighting a condom nailed to the wall. 

No damage was done but Kosmeider reported them for attempted arson. The police picked them up and by early December they were heading home, too. 

The Beatles regrouped in Liverpool in time for the busy Christmas season. They returned to Hamburg in the spring of 1961. By this time George Harrison was eighteen and they were able to resume their residency at the Top Ten club.

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