Hitler's Airwaves

The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing
Bergmeier, Horst J.P.
Lotz, Rainer E.
Date published: 
January 1997

Jazz was banned from German broadcasting as soon as the Nazis came to power in 1933. Yet, throughout the Second World War, American jazz and swing were core components of the Third Reich's propaganda. Jazz classics such as W.C. Handy's famous St. Louis Blues, their lyrics neatly tampered with, came belting over the airwaves, alongside the famous 'Germany Calling' programmes directed at Britain and allied forces around the world. Hitler's Airwaves sets Goebbels' propaganda orchestra, a swing band fronted by the crooner, Karl (ÔCharlie') Schwedler, within the context of the Reich Ministry for Propaganda. The first book-length study of the full extent of the Nazi propaganda effort, it draws on a vast array of newly-available material: interviews with contemporaries and treason trial transcripts, the private archive of Roderich Dietze, wartime head of German radio's English-language service, reports of the BBC's monitoring service, recently declassified FBI and MI5 files, and documents in the Bonn Foreign Ministry, the Bundesarchiv and the former Berlin Document Center.