Music in the Third Reich

All German radio stations were under Goebbels’ control. Later, as they invaded Europe, capturing foreign radio stations was a military’s priority. There were several battles for the airwaves.

Goebbels said, “Music affects the heart and emotions more than the intellect.” Only Aryan music was considered respectable and many talented musicians were replaced by Nazi-sympathizers.

Nazis loved their classical musicians. Wagner, Beethoven and Strauss, among others, were played in the most incongruous settings: concentration camps, battles, ghettos, and even during mass shootings.

Zarah Leanders
But it was the popular music that flourished. Many of the stars were connected to the cinema. Popular singers from the Nazi years included: Rosita Serano, also known as the Chilean Nightingale, who I posted about before. (Dec, 2010) and Zarah Leanders from Sweden.  Lale Anderson did the original version of Lili Marlene, under the title “Girl under the Lantern,” in 1938. It was so popular that even an English version was released done by Vera Lynn. Lili Marlene is still one of my personal favorites along with Rosita Serrano’s Roter Mohn.  Both were in my dad’s 78 record collection.  Most of his records got damaged over the years, but I might still have half a dozen left.  Fortunately, YouTube has rescued those losses from obscurity.

These were the songs of my father’s youth…back when he was a young man in love with life, with a woman, and with his new career in the German Luftwaffe. 

Dangerous times. Insane times. Times we shouldn't forget because the past forms our present.  Marlene Dietrich says it best in this song—Sag mir, wo die Blumen sind. (Where have all the flowers gone?)

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