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Nazi Big Band

"On the beat"
Here's a track by Charlie and His Orchestra - a wartime big band instigated by Joseph Goebbels the Nazi Minister of Propaganda.

In the 1930s the Nazis had a love/hate relationship with swing music. It was outlawed as “degenerate” negro music but at the same time they employed it to spread the Nazi Doctrine. Goebbels assembled this fairly competent swing band 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.

In this 1928 speech, Goebbels expounded on his then-radical theories of manipulation:

"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."


You can hear another bunch of tracks here at WFMU - "a radio station that bites back".

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