When it comes to World War II propaganda, everybody probably has heard of “Tokyo Rose.” But do you know about Charlie and His Orchestra? This was a German jazz band put together by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
Jazz was banned in Nazi Germany as “degenerate art.” But Goebbels figured he could weaponize the music and screw with British and American minds.
So Charlie and His Orchestra recorded versions of many popular songs – from “St. Louis Blues” to “Stardust.” And they swung.
These performances always began with the original lyrics in tact. But midway through, singer Karl Schwedler (a.k.a. “Charlie”) would deliver anti-British, anti-American, anti-Communist or antisemitic messages straight from the Ministry of Propaganda.
The songs were broadcast via medium-wave and short-wave radio to Great Britain and North America. It was all about taunting and demoralizing the Allies... and trash-talking Winston Churchill and F.D.R. by name.
For example, click here and check out the Nazified version of “You Can’t Stop Me From Dreaming.”
Charlie’s rap might seem just plain weird, or even a little comical, today. But what if you add some Jew-baiting? Click here and listen to “You’re Driving Me Crazy.”
Okay, now... ready to turn the bad vibes up to 11? Click here for the Nazi version of “Makin’ Whoopee,” which includes these lines, sung from a Jewish point of view:
We throw our German names away
We are the kikes of U.S.A.
You are the goys, folks
We are the boys, folks
We’re makin’ whoopee
WFMU’s Beware of the Blog has downloadable MP3s of these tunes and others by Charlie and His Orchestra.
Interesting footnote: Charlie and His Orchestra were also known as the “Templin band”; the conductor was Lutz Templin (pictured above). After the war, with the U.S. Army controlling part of West Germany, Lutz Templin and his orchestra were put to work at Radio Stuttgart, broadcasting swing music for the entertainment of American soldiers.
Templin’s band performed on West German radio through the mid-1960s.