Thursday, October 12, 2017

Radios in the Third Reich

Wikipedia: de:Benutzer:Hihiman,
Radios were ubiquitous in the Third Reich. Under Goebbel’s guidance, “Volks-empfänger” or “people’s receivers” were made affordable and became a major propaganda tool. People could sit in their warm kitchens and be brainwashed. Not only that, broadcasting was cheap…much cheaper than producing a movie, like say, Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will.”

 Of course, radios didn’t just replay speeches by the Nazi elite. Goebbels was quite aware of the power of music. He filled the airwaves with high-end operas and classical music, peppered liberally with Nazi propaganda.  For Operation Barbarossa—the invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941—he commissioned new music to encourage morale in the German people. Attacking Russia meant the war would not be ending soon.  

Marching songs were popular because they worked. Songs like Erika have a strong beat and catchy tune. The lyrics are quite innocent…about a young girl named after a flower. But the song will continue to be tainted with the Nazi era.

Another marching song is much less innocent. The lyrics were written by Horst Wessel, a young SA member who was shot by communists in 1930. While he was credited with the musical composition, he probably borrowed the melody from somewhere else.  Goebbels created a martyr out of Wessel and his song became the Nazi anthem. The Horst Wessel Lied has been banned since the end of the war, while many parodies have been written.

There are many German marching songs. A few more examples include:
“Es zittern die morschen Knochen,”  Sieg Heil, Viktoria,” “Panzerlied,” “SS Marschiert in Feindes Land.” Most have infectious melodies and combative messages. Music is powerful stuff. Hours of tedious marching became an odious type of dance. Every army has its music.  It’s terrifying to realize how beautiful music can become the tool of incredible evil.

I like music for walking…not marching. No uniforms, and no goose-stepping—just an uplifting rhythm to add some pep to my step. And...,I don't even have to do the singing. 

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