Hitler and Hot Jazz STILL WORKING | History | Smithsonian
Current Issue
October 2014 magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Hitler and Hot Jazz STILL WORKING

We can picture the scene, since it is typical of hundreds of scenes like it that took place at the height of the Second World War. It is the night of June 5, 1944.     in this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to [...]

smithsonian.com

We can picture the scene, since it is typical of hundreds of scenes like it that took place at the height of the Second World War. It is the night of June 5, 1944.

 

 

  •  
  • in this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
  • As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones (so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;
  • so-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
  • strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);
  • also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);
  • the double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called jazz compositions;
  • plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
  • musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations (so-called scat);
  • all light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.”

 

 

 

 

“Who is that man with the big cigar,
who’s greatest friend is the USSR.
He’s known around from near and far
That actor man with the big cigar.
He puffs away
every night and day
with a twinkle in his eye
and all the while behind that smile
lurks many an untold lie
Down Whitehall way
you’ll see his car
He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere,
that friend of the USSR”

Sources

Adam Cathcart. “Music and politics in Hitler’s Germany.” Madison Historical Review 3 (2006); Tim Crook. International Radio Journalism: History, Theory and Practice. London: Routledge, 1998; Will Friedwald. Stardust Melodies: The Biographies of 12 of America’s Most Popular Songs. New York: Pantheon Books, 2002; Brenda Dixon Gottschild. Waltzing in the Dark: African American Vaudeville and Race Politics in the Swing Era. New York: Palgrave, 2000; JJ Gould. “Josef Skvorecky and the Nazis’ control-freak hatred of jazz.” In The Atlantic, January 3, 2012;  Pekka Gronow and Ilpo Saunio. An International History of the Recording Industry. London: Cassell, 1998; Roger Hillman. Unsettling Scores: German Film, Music, and Ideology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005; John Bush Jones. The Songs That Fought the War: Popular Music and the Home Front, 1939-1945. Lebanon : Brandeis University Press, 2006; Michael Kater. Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992; Horst Heinz Lange. Jazz in Deutschland: die Deutsche Jazz-Chronik bis 1960. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1996; Martin Lücke. Jazz im Totalitarismus: Einer Komparative Analyse des Politisch Motivierten Umgangs mit dem Jazz Während des Zeit des Nationalsocialismus und der Stalinismus. Münster: Lit Verlag, 2004; Guido van Rijn. Roosevelt’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1997; Cornelius Ryan. The Longest Day. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994; David Snowball. “Controlling degenerate music: jazz in the Third Reich.” In Michael Budds (ed). Jazz and the Germans: Essays on the Influence of “Hot” American Idioms on 20th  Century German Music. Maesteg: Pendragon Press, 2002; Michael Zwerin. La Tristesse de Saint Louis: Swing Under the Nazis. London: Quartet, 1988.

Tags
About Mike Dash
Mike Dash

Mike Dash is a contributing writer in history for Smithsonian.com. Before Smithsonian.com, Dash authored the award-winning blog A Blast From the Past.

Read more from this author

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus