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March 06, 2005

Charlie and His Orchestra

The lure of the forbidden can be seen nowhere more clearly than the Parent's Television Council's filthy TV page. Here is the organization that has been responsible for generating millions of complaints to the FCC, and they make it possible to watch those delectably decadent moments over and over again.

Charlie_and_orch_1In the 1930's the Nazis had the same love/hate relationship with swing music. They outlawed it on their homefront, throwing it into  the category of "degenerate" art. But at the same time, they employed it in the service of the fatherland. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, assembled a fairly competent swing band called Charlie and His Orchestra to perform Nazified versions of the jazz hits of the day. Led by an English speaking German, Karl Schwendler, Charlie and His Orchestra broadcast on the medium-wave and short-wave bands throughout the 1930s to Canada, the US and Britain.

The idea was to lure the masses in with the irrestible tonic of swing music and then slyly work in the anti-Jewish, American and British lyrics after the second or third verse. The broadcasts of Charlie and His Orchestra were not available in the Fatherland proper, but that only enhanced their legend, and they picked up an underground following in Germany as well.

The notion of this material having its desired effect seems ludicrous in retrospect, but imagine yourself an East Coast resident of the United States during a period when victory over the Nazis was not assured. As you scan the radio dial aware that German U-boats may be trolling the seas miles away from your home, you come across the song "Submarines."  If the desired effect was to crush morale and instill fear, these songs probably worked great. As recruitment tools for the Nazi party, Charles Lindbergh probably did a better job.

Two volumes of this material have been issued. Here are all the MP3s of volume two:

01 - Nice People
02 - Thanks For The Memory
03 - Indian Love Call
04 - The Sheik Of Araby
05 - Lets Put Out The Lights
06 - Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
07 - Lilli Marleen
08 - Elmers Tune
09 - Picture Me Without You
10 - I Double Dare You
11 - Macpherson Is Rehearsin
12 - I Cant Give You Anything But Love
13 - Daisy
14 - Stardust
15 - Submarines
16 - United Air Man
17 - I Got Rhythm
18 - And So Another Lovely Day Is Over
19 - Roll On The Blue Funnel
20 - Under An Umbrella In The Evening
21 - Calling Invasion Forces
22 - Atlantic Wall (Incomplete)

UPDATE: Here is a post with all the recordings from Volume One of Charlie and His Orchestra.

For more recordings of genuine wartime propaganda broadcasts, check out the Prelinger Archives.


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awesome stuff...

however track 12 seems to be a dead link?

thanks for posting these!

From the filthy tv page...

Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy comments that "Hopefully I have made it possible for somebody on broadcast television to do a rear-entry scene in three years. Maybe that will be my legacy."

--Greatest comment ever...

Thanks, track 12 is now fixed.


I had to look up The Simpsons:

"This long-running animated production focuses on the daily life of a suburban family living in the fictional town of Springfield. Despite its early timeslot and animated format, The Simpsons is not recommended for younger viewers. The show ridicules entrepreneurs, religion, educators, and law enforcement officials, and has occasionally incorporated foul language into its dialogue. The cartoon sends a mixed message on parenthood: while the father is a bumbling idiot, the mother is a loving and patient wife and role model."

I was going to rant about how by extension they would love a show about God-fearing Horatio Alger–types who participate in the PTA and give heartily to the PBA, and the sorts of conformist zombies this would produce. Then I reread the paragraph and I have to ask: What could they mean by "ridicul[ing] entrepreneurs"? Flanderseses's Leftorium? Marge's pretzel business? Homer's stint as the Beer Baron? Bart and Milhouse's forbidden-video night at the Android's Dungeon? Way I see it, madcap capitalism is still capitalism.

If you want to stream all these MP3s rather than download them, try this page:


Its very tempting to spend an hour or so generating completely fake indecency complaints through Parent's Television Council's page. Like, for shows that don't exist, or which describe things that patently didn't happen.

the film forum played "hitler's hitparade" not too long ago. If anyone's interested in the music of propaganda, I'd definitely recommend checking it out. Don't know if there's a DVD yet...but regardless, it's a recommended and disturbing film.

Re: "entrepreneurs" in the simpsons: it wouldn't surprise me if they were referring to Mr. Burns. Of course, he's not really an entrepreneur, but "ridiculing corporations" doesn't have the same ring to it.

Thanks ever so much for the Mp3's of Charlie and his Orchestra, I'm currently completeing a finals paper and am looking at music as propaganda in WWII this stuff is brilliant. thanks again.


Are you sure this is authentic? If this was first broadcast in the 1930s and 40s, why does track 12 mention "the United Nations, hip hip hip hooray" near the end?

Lyrics, anyone?

And it's likely not "the united nations".

It may be "the League of Nations".


After listening to it, it's not "the united nations".

It's "united nations".

Therefore, it refers to the idea that everyone works together.

hip hip hooray for nazi germany.

The Declaration by the United Nations was signed by the allied powers in 1942, when the war was still in full swing.

Thank you for that tidbit. It was most enlightening. I didn't know that. http://img15.paintedover.com/uploads/15/emoteng101_2.gif

So, Lyrics?

This is a pretty cool examination and historical piecing together of the story of Charlie:

It is for real.

Forget the link above to the "great Earthstation website". You can get most of what they *sell* for *free* on this truely great website:


Earthstation downloads much of their stuff from Prelinger, then sells it to you. You can easily download it yourself, and burn to your own CD/VCDs much cheaper.

Thank you so much for making the "Charlie & his Orchestra" files available! I am german, born 1963, studied the Third Reich in school extensively, but I had never heard anything about the existance of this orchestra!!! Nor has anybody I know! This is truly enlightening, and we are very grateful for that. I will make CDs of that and mail it to my relatives who still are in Germany, they will spread it on. (Germans pay per minute for internet access, and the current economic situation doesn't allow many normal Germans using the Net for long)

After hearing the BBC Radio 4 Programme in January 2005, I was really pleased to find your Website on Charlie and his Orchestra. I am more than impressed with all of the recordings!

Can anyone direct me to where I can find lyrics by Charlie and His Orchestra? I'm doing a school project and I'm running out of time. Thanks!

I'm falling short of words on how to thank this divine soul who came up with the idea of making this music available...I stay in India and if he comes to my city sometime, staying here won't be a problem for him...I shall wait for him to oblige me by sending the message....

Very beautiful the possibility to hear and to get this famous & this excellent orchestra!

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