Music Matters

music

Music is very important, it evokes emotions and stirs the soul. It can unite and divide in equal ways. It can be a very powerful tool to bring joy, but it also can become a weapons if it is used for propaganda purposes.

I will be looking at 2 songs which both had some part to play in the political situation in 1930s Germany, and to an extend the Holocaust.

Hollaender

Friedrich Hollaender was one of the great film composers in Hollywood and he wrote film songs and soundtracks to many well-known productions.he was nominated for 4 academy awards. Although he was a German Jew, he was born in London on 18 October 1896. When he was 3 his parents and Friedrich moved back to Berlin.

Hollaender was  an outspoken progressive satirist, a jazz musician  Hollaender was seen by the Nazis as  a symbol of Weimar decadence and intellectual subterfuge. In 1931 he opened his own cabaret theatre called , Tingel Tangel, where he  performed anti-Hitler revues like  Spuk in der Villa Stern (Spook in the Stern Villa), the revue included the satirical song ‘An allem sind die Juden schuld’ (It’s all the fault of the Jews), to the tune of the ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen.

Hollaender  wrote this song as a political weapon against  the Nazis and all German anti-Semites. He used satire in the lyrics to highlight the ridiculous accusations made against the Jews. Below is the translation of the lyrics.the song premiered in September, 1931.

If it rains, if it hails,
If it snows or if it flashes,
if it dawns, if it thunders,
if it’s freezing or if you sweat,
if it is beautiful weather or it’s cloudy,
if it thaws or if it pours,
if it’s drizzling, if it trickles
if you cough or if you sneeze:
The Jews are to blame for everything!
The Jews are to blame for everything!
Why, why are they to blame?
Child that you don´t understand that, they are to blame for it!
And me too! You are to blame!
The Jews are, they are, they are definitely to blame!
And when you don´t believe it, they are to blame!
In particular, all the Jews are to blame!
Oh!
If the phone is busy,
if the bathtub leaks,
if your income is estimated incorrectly,
if the sausage tastes like soap,
if on Sunday nothing´s baked,
if the Prince of Wales is gay,
if at night the furniture makes noise,
if your hound has hard shit:
The Jews are to blame for everything!

If you´re taxed by Mr. Dietrich,
if Dietrich sings from head to toe,
if Okasa becomes more expensive,
if a virgin says: “I’ll do it”,
if there is a crisis at the Danat,
if there is an old joke on the radio,
if Garbo has a decayed tooth,
if the kiss pops in the sound-film:
The Jews are to blame for everything!
That snow is so terribly white,
and even, how to say, cold,
but that fire is hot.
And that trees stand in the forest,
that a rose has no roots,
that a beef patty is scraped,
that Heine is not bad,
and Einstein is very talented:
The Jews are to blame for everything!

The Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith protested shortly after the premiere of Hollaender’s satirical song: They  called the piece as a “school example of a misunderstanding and distortion that anti-Semitic agitation would not represent otherwise” and branded the song “disgusting and repulsive.

I can understand the objections against the song because undoubtedly there would have been people who would have seen the song as a confirmation towards the bias against the Jews. Howver those same people would have looked for any excuse to further their own twisted philosophy. I believe the best way to fight bigotry  and anti semitism is to show how ridiculous it is .

Hollaender left Nazi Germany in 1933 because and first moved to Paris. He emigrated to the United States the next year, where he wrote the music for over a hundred films, including Destry Rides Again.

wessel

The Nazis  exploited music for propaganda.in the Nazi imagination, music had a unique significance and power to seduce and sway the masses. The Party made widespread use of music in its publicity, and music featured prominently at rallies and other public events. The Horst Wessellied (Horst Wessel song) was popular and widely sung during rallies and other events.

Horst Wessel was fanatic Nazi . He was a Berlin leader of the Nazi Party’s stormtroopers. In early 1929, Wessel wrote the lyrics for a new Nazi Anthem. The song had several incarnations but was eventually known as the Horts Wessel song after the killing of Wessel.On 23 February 1930 he was murdered by members of the KPD, the German communist party.

Goebbels ceased the opportunity to turn the shooting into the possibility of a propaganda bonanza. He eulogized Wessel in his newspaper, Der Angriff, in overtly Christian tones:

A Christian Socialist! A man who calls out through his deeds: ‘Come to me, I shall redeem you!’ … A divine element works in him. making him the man he is and causing him to act in this way and no other. One man must set an example and offer himself up as a sacrifice! Well, then, I am ready.

The Horst Wessel song became  the anthem of the Nazi Party  from 1930 to 1945. From 1933 to 1945 the Nazis made it the co-national anthem of Germany,.

Below is the translated text. I will not post the actual song because firstly I think it is rubbish and I don’t want this blog to be hijacked by Neo Nazis just so they can use the song. The song is banned in Germany, you can actually get a jail sentence for it if you are caught singing it. That doesn’t stop Neo Nazis for using it though.

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA marches with calm, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks.

Clear the streets for the brown battalions,
Clear the streets for the storm division!
Millions are looking upon the swastika full of hope,
The day of freedom and of bread dawns!

For the last time, the call to arms is sounded!
For the fight, we all stand prepared!
Already Hitler’s banners fly over all streets.
The time of bondage will last but a little while now!

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA march with quiet, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries,
March in spirit within our ranks

The irony in the song is the use of the word Comrade which is more associated with communists.

Music does matter and often in ways you would not have imagined.

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Sources

http://holocaustmusic.ort.org/resistance-and-exile/berlin-cabaret-in-exile/an-allem-sind-die-juden-schuld-words/

https://www.antiwarsongs.org/canzone.php?id=45543&lang=en

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/horst-wessel

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