Charlie and His Orchestra (1942)
In the 1930's the Nazis had the same love/hate relationship with swing music. They outlawed it on their homefront, throwing it into the category of "degenerate" art. But at the same time, they employed it in the service of the fatherland. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, assembled a fairly competent swing band called Charlie and His Orchestra to perform Nazified versions of the jazz hits of the day. Led by an English speaking German, Karl Schwendler, Charlie and His Orchestra broadcast on the medium-wave and short-wave bands throughout the 1930s to Canada, the US and Britain.
The idea was to lure the masses in with the irrestible tonic of swing music and then slyly work in the anti-Jewish, American and British lyrics after the second or third verse. The broadcasts of Charlie and His Orchestra were not available in the Fatherland proper, but that only enhanced their legend, and they picked up an underground following in Germany as well.
The notion of this material having its desired effect seems ludicrous in retrospect, but imagine yourself an East Coast resident of the United States during a period when victory over the Nazis was not assured. As you scan the radio dial aware that German U-boats may be trolling the seas miles away from your home, you come across the song "Submarines." If the desired effect was to crush morale and instill fear, these songs probably worked great. As recruitment tools for the Nazi party, Charles Lindbergh probably did a better job.
Charlie and His Orchestra was led by Karl Schwendler, an English speaking German who broadcast Nazi-themed swing and big-band hits every night on the medium-wave and short-wave bands throughout the 1930s to Canada, the US and Britain. Leave it to Goebbels to take the music of The Andrews Sisters, Paul Whiteman and Irving Berlin and fill it with venomous rants against Jews, America and the British. The man took his propaganda seriously. But at least he admitted it was propaganda, unlike the current crop of spin-meisters.
In a 1928 speech, Goebbels expounded on his then-radical theories of manipulation. What he said then seems today to be cutting edge meme-ology, and provides an insight into why he favored using the most popular music of the day to spread his message of hate:
"An idea always lives in individuals. It seeks an individual to transmit its great intellectual force. It becomes alive in a brain, and seeks escape through the mouth. The idea is preached by individuals, individuals who will never be satisfied to have the knowledge remain theirs alone. You know that from experience. When one knows something one does not keep it hidden like a buried treasure, rather one seeks to tell others. One looks for people who should know it. One feels that everyone else should know to, for one feels alone when no one else knows. For example, if I see a beautiful painting in an art gallery, I have the need to tell others. I meet a good friend and say to him: "I have found a wonderful picture. I have to show it to you." The same is true of ideas. If an idea lives in an individual, he has the urge to tell others. There is some mysterious force in us that drives us to tell others. The greater and simpler the idea is, the more it relates to daily life, the more one has the desire to tell everyone about it."
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Swing - Propagandasongs im Swingrhythmus
TMK Records- 25 pistes - Durée totale : 1:19:30 - 2011