HITLER'S AIRWAVES by Horst J.P. Bergmeier


The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing
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 The previously untold story of how the Nazi war machine used jazz and swing for propaganda. Independent scholars Bergmeier and Lotz have succeeded in crafting a work that will appeal to both a specialized audience and the general public. Most people know that jazz and swing were immediately banned upon Hitler's ascension to power in 1933. Swing represented the decadent society of America, while jazz threatened the racial purity of the Aryan race. A deep-rooted anti-Semitism underlay these attitudes: Swing was one component of modernism (``the refuse of a rotting society''); and jazz was being used by the Jews to corrupt the Aryan race through ``musical race defilement.'' Music at the home front had to conform to the traditionalist tastes of Hitler and the Nazi elite, but when it came to propaganda aimed at foreign countries, swing and jazz seemed the perfect bait. Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was always sensitive to the enormous influence of the radio, which he viewed as second only to the press as the ``most effective weapon in our struggle for existence.'' Strictly speaking, the book's title is misleading; only one of the eight chapters deals with jazz and swing radio propaganda. Four chapters offer a historical introduction to the propaganda ministry and the development of radio in Germany after WW I. An additional chapter reviews the well-known rivalry within the Nazi hierarchy over propaganda; and the final two chapters deal with Nazi radio broadcasts over Europe. The authors have made good use of previously unseen documents to reconstruct the Nazi effort to use music as propaganda. The CD accompanying the book includes catchy tunes (such as a jazzy ``Onward Christian Soldiers'' with new, anti-Semitic lyrics) and original radio broadcasts. A fascinating footnote to the history of the Nazi propaganda machine. (40 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-300-06709-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997