Jazz music originated from the southern United States in the 20th century; it was born out the combination of European and African music. Jazz was a music style had passed the test of time since minority groups of black Americans dominated it. Most critics dismissed Jazz music and tried to ensure that it never flourished due to its alienation from the white culture in the United States. African pedigree dominated Jazz music that is evident in the use of blue notes, syncopation, improvisation, swung note and use of polyrhythm (Kater 149). Jazz had a lot of influence in Germany during the World War II and post-world under the Nazi party and Adolf Hitler. The Nazi party ideals appealed to many people, especially the underprivileged and youthful tradesmen due to their radical beliefs and principles. This paper will focus on the influence of Jazz as a cultural object in Germany. The paper traces the ban of Jazz by the Nazi, and it eventual importation to Germany after the World War II.
Jazz is a collection of local, regional, and national musical cultures that has been in place since the early 20th century. For instance, in the 1940s, there was the Afro-Cuban jazz, West Coast jazz, Avant-garde jazz, smooth jazz, punk jazz, Latin jazz and others that dominated the cities and towns of the United States. Jazz then spread to other parts of the world from the US (Kater 152). The Nazi held that Jazz’s message on modernity was a threatening form of expression.
Hitler, the Nazi Party, and Jazz Music
Adolf Hitler found the perfect scapegoat in the philosophies of Marxism and Jewry to explicate the constant disappointments and malfunctions that he had undergone in his entire life. The fact that Hitler was filled with intense anger, resentment and bitterness which had not found release, combined with the love and patriotism he felt for his country made him love Jazz musical themes and tunes of oppression. In his book Mein Kampf, Hitler describes in detail the hatred he felt for the Jews. He claims that what was far worse than the ‘’foul smell” exuded by the Jews is the fact that, the Jews were responsible for all the rot in the morality of society (Meyer 240). According to Hitler, the Jews could never be Germans, and, therefore, had to be eliminated to put a stop to the rot, pollution and contamination that they were instigating on the “pure race” of Germans. The introduction of the Jazz culture brought emancipation and democratic principles into the Germans’ culture.
It is believed that in the early 20th century, the African-American slaves were not allowed to mingle with the whites, especially on musical occasions. African-American slaves usually had occasions after the harvests when they had festivals. They sang their songs and played drums made of animal skin known as ‘gumbo box’ and dressed themselves in costumes that included cow tails and horned-headdresses. Jazz music emanated from the tunes composed during this time as they celebrated their hard labor. This was the only time they could celebrate since they lived in difficult times of slavery.
After the abolition of slavery, jazz music developed from these early tunes and constituted the message of difficult times they experienced during slavery. Another problem that dominated the African-Americans was the racial prejudice. It is the attempt of advocating for equal rights and abolition of racial discrimination that jazz music be developed around (Meyer 240). The German nation was at this time going through a difficult time of inflation, and the ideals of the Nazi party seemed more attractive to the German nationals who had been heartbroken by their defeat at the Second World War (Kater 155). Therefore, Jazz influenced Germans to adopt democratic ideals, as well as liberation and equality in their practices.
Adolf Hitler and his lieutenants held that all races of the world were meant to be under the rule of the Germans. They believed that people from Germany belonged to the better-quality race of the Aryans. Hitler then decided to immerse himself into the anti-Semitic associations, which were protesting against the revolution. In 1919, Adolf Hitler realized the great capacity he had for motivating, persuading, and moving masses through his oratory endowments. By the favor and passion that Adolf Hitler displayed in his public speaking, he realized that he had more power than all the German weapons, and all he had to do was to move the masses through Jazz music and motivate them to fight to death for their beloved country and rid it of any unwanted elements (Kater 147).
In essence, Jazz music has a long history that emerged from the African-American people in the southern parts of the United States. The rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich significantly contributed to the history of the American nation. Due to the rampant attacks on German Jews and the extensive rates of unemployment, many migrants moved from German to America. It is factual that most of the US citizens, especially the older generation are of other origins. In fact, some who have been presidents of the US have been rumoured to be of Jewish descent. The infiltration of Jazz into German’s culture introduced a ‘negro’ values into their practices.
Kater, Michael. “The Jazz Experience in Weimar Germany.” German History 6.2 (1988): 145-158. Print.
Meyer, Michael. “Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany.” Central European History 26.2 (1993): 240. Print.