Music as Cultural Warfare: How the Nazi’s Co-opted the Orchestra to Serve Their Political Ends.

Art always bows to some greater ideology. There is no such thing as neutral art. It always conveys a message. Most often it is a servant of the strongest principles within a culture. This brief article reviews research to show how the Nazi propaganda machine slowly took over the Berlin orchestra to reinforce ideas of German National Socialism.  The author is clear that the foundations for this were laid many years before. Yet hearing about the actual events is both fascinating and chilling.

This process started with understanding the power of music as a cultural force. Then Goebbels “annexed” the  Berlin orchestra in the same way that Germany annexed land during the war.  But it started when members of the orchestra were willing to sell their autonomy and their souls for more money and other cultural benefits. After that, they were owned by the Nazis.

This kind of research is delightful stuff for history nerds like me. And the great question of history is always, “what does this mean for us today?” I think at present most people are associating fascism with Trump in the US. But to be honest, when I read this, I thought much more about the music and entertainment business in America as supporting the Left. In our country, one of the great weaknesses of the conservative movement has been second rate art. But within Hollywood there is a group-think that preaches leftist (rather than liberal) ideas.  Think I am exaggerating? Just listen to the speeches at the Oscar’s.  Add to this the recent censorship that is happening on University Campuses in the name of having “safe spaces” in the name of avoiding hate speech, and you can see that the Left has a much tighter grip on these cultural expressions.

In any case we need to be aware that culture-makers are trying to recruit us (and at times enslave us) for their view of the world. This is an inescapable reality for good or bad. Dictators who want to hijack culture will always move toward this source of power and it is in the best interest of free people to be aware of the greater agenda. I think the ideal situation is a culture of arts that is both free and reinforces important virtues.

Some tidbits from the article:


“The alchemy of the transformation began with a gradual relinquishment of autonomy, especially stark in Berlin. The Berlin Philharmonic, nationalized into a state-owned company in January 1934 under Joseph Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda, began to perform in the old Philharmonie on Bernburger Straße under an immense swastika. It was now expected to render service to “the German cause.” (Even Goebbels did not speak of “Nazi music” but of “German music.”) Goebbels, who began to call it “my orchestra,” increased its subsidies and its musicians’ salaries and personally signed letters of exemption from military service for its members. Goebbels also lavishly funded a movie about the orchestra (released in late 1944), which Trümpi calls “the most expensive advertising campaign ever undertaken on behalf of the Berlin Philharmonic.”

And again,

“After the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria in March 1938, things were even worse in Vienna, which liked to think of itself as the “music city” par excellence. Trümpi, the first historian granted full access to the Vienna Philharmonic archives, reports that a blacklist compiled in 1938 named 11 Jewish orchestra members, and ten more who were married to Jewish women. After the Anschluss, an annexation as much cultural as territorial, all were either forced into retirement or dismissed. Seven of them would be murdered in the Holocaust. Close to half of the philharmonic’s remaining musicians joined the Nazi Party.”

Source: The Baton and the Jackboot

Some Irish Music, for Free

I found this website on Podbean. It is pleasant flute music with a little drum in the background, enjoyable to listen to and Free. You can listen at the site, download or podcast.

Here is another one:

Unrecognized Greatness

Here is a link to a story in the Washington Post, that reports on an experiment they did in having a world class violinist- Joshua Bell- play like a street musician to see who would stop and appreciate it. It also contains some video….a remarkable story. I heard a preacher refer to it, and I wanted to use the illustration some day 🙂

New CD

I am listening to the new Caedmon’s Call CD (Overdressed) that just came out a couple of months ago. It is wonderful. In my opinion this group is treasure. They are a folk band that sings Christian music, but there is so much more here. They have a long history of turning out consistently enjoyable music. They sing about Jesus, and the excellencies of God. But they also sing about common stuff such as “bus drivers”, families, single guys and their struggles, San Francisco, etc. So many groups fall into the dreadful trap that makes every song sound exactly the same. I love that this group has escaped that dismal position. While they have a distinct modern folk sound, they also have a lot of unique songs and variety within that genre. Also, they have great poetry for lyrics, thoughtful, beautiful, and true. No stupid Shania Twain songs here.

They are strong on acoustic guitar in their music. But they have several percussionists, a piano player, and great vocals. Some of their rhythm work is very complicated. If you have good speakers and listen closely you will hear some amazing complexity in the music. They have consistently great vocals, and several in the band can really sing. I am addicted!

On this album the song “there is a reason” is a great look at how we can trust in God’s promises when we don’t understand the confusing world around us. It is loosely from Ecclesiastes 3, “in everything there is a season” (which even the chorus is sort of a play on that: season/reason, I saw that just now as I was writing this)

I was overcome with gratitude and wept after listening to “love grows love” this is a great family/love song.

“Share the Blame” is a unique song that calls everyone to take their share of responsibility for the bad things in the world and our life. Guys like me would just say, that’s your fault, don’t blame everyone else for your screwed up life. The Lyrics in this one are a much more beautiful way to say it. “hold up the mirror and share the blame”

You can buy them on itunes or check out their website: