The Jazz Standard the Nazis could not destroy.

I was reminded of this song while I was watching “the Man in the Castle”. So many musicians were murdered during the Holocaust Musicians like the talented composer Gideon Klein

The youngest Jewish composer murdered during the Holocaust, Gideon Klein was only 26 when he was murdered in the Fürstengrube sub-camp near Auschwitz. His oeuvre fuses Jewish themes with modern composition techniques. In 1940, he was offered a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music in London. This could have saved his life, but he was not allowed to travel from Prague.

Sources

https://www.dw.com/en/jewish-composers-who-died-during-the-holocaust-but-whose-music-lives-on/g-43567006

https://dirkdeklein.net/2018/07/19/captain-macheath-the-story-behind-mack-the-knife/

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Django’s lucky escape

Django

The title of this blog is not referring to a Western film, it is actually referring to an extraordinary event during WWII.

Django Reinhard is one of my favourite guitarists it is actually because of him (and Jim Croce) I picked up a guitar myself. Although I am an admirer of his music and even more his style of playing I didn’t know too much about Django during WWII. I had always assumed he had escaped Europe on time.

It was only after watching a documentary on BBC 4 called Tunes for Tyrants, presented by Suzy Klein, I discovered that Django not only survived the war he also thrived.

You may think “What is so extraordinary about that?” Django was a Belgian born Roma French jazz guitarist. Three words in the last line is what makes it extraordinary, Roma Jazz Guitarist.

Roma’s were persecuted in Nazi occupied Europe, about 1 million Roma-Gypsies perished in extermination camps or as a result of forced labour.

Jazz was considered degenerate music in the Third Reich.

degenerate

However Jazz was allowed in Paris, because Hitler did not care about the ‘spiritual well being’ of the French. Django had lived in the UK before the war but had returned to Paris when the war broke out in 1939,leaving his wife behind and eventually divorcing her.

In 1943, Reinhardt married Sophie Ziegler in Salbris. The could had a son, Babik Reinhardt.

Because Django and his family were Roma, he tried to escape Nazi occupied France, His first attempt failed he and his family were caught ,but lady luck smiled on them for a Luftwaffe officer Dietrich Schulz-Köhn,who was an ardent Jazz fan and knew Django and his music, allowed Django and his family return to Paris. If Köhn would not have done that the Reinhard family would have surely ended up in a concentration camp.

Django remained nervous though for he knew there was always a chance that he’d still be arrested some day and be sent away. Although he did attempt to flee France again, he was send back at the Swiss border.

He remained in Paris and his music was enjoyed by the Parisians but also by the Nazis. Django actually managed to make quite a bit of money during those years. One of his songs, “Nuages,” did  become an unofficial anthem in Paris to signify hope for liberation.

He did change his musical direction somewhat though, because Jazz although allowed in Paris was still considered degenerate music, and the laisse faire attitude the Nazis in Paris had towards it  could change any minute. He attempted to  He tried to write a Mass for the Gypsies and a symphony.

Django guitar

I would really recommend watching the 3 part documentary series ‘Tunes for Tyrants’ on BBC 4. It gives a great overview of the musical history during the world war 2 era and the years before it.

Ending this blog withe the aforementioned “Nuages”

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The song the Nazis loved, but then hated it.

edeleweiss

They say that music soothes the savage beast. quite often this is true, but it can also have an equal opposite effect and sometimes it can be both.

The song ‘Adolf Hitler’s Lieblingsblume ist die Schlichte Edelweiss'(Adolf Hitlers favorite flower is the simple Edelweiss) ,composed in 1933 by Otto Rathke, with lyrics by Emil Gustav Adolf Stadthagen and made popular by the German Opera Tenor Harry Steier, was one of Germany’s favourite songs.

However by 1939 it ended up on the list of songs which were banned in the third reich. It suddenly was branded degenerate music along with music from Jewish composers and Jazz music.

list

The reason why it fell out of favor was because it was seen as kitsch and it was also perceived as a satire on Hitler. It took them 6 years to figure that out.

Below is  a part of the English translation.

“High on steep cliff walls blooms a rare kind of flower,
to which the Kanzler quietly turns his thoughts.
A queen of the Alps this is his heart’s joy.
Adolf Hitlers favorite flower is the simple Edelweiss.

Take this song through all the districts,
plant it forth from mouth to mouth,
take a piece of the German soul around the whole world.
Plant it in hearts for the leader to praise and cherish.
Adolf Hitlers favorite flower is the simple Edelweiss”

Both composer and performer had died in 1936.

Now here is the real irony of this song, although it was banned by the Nazis, Some Neo Nazis are now endorsing it, another indication that aside from having some mental issues, they also know nothing about the history of the man they so adore.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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