How Did Hitler Use Music In Nazi Germany

1696 Words7 Pages
Rosie Murphy Music in Nazi Germany When Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933 he immediately began carrying out his plan on completely reforming all aspects of German society. His Nazi power spread through political, social and cultural spheres. Music was one of the many arts regulated by Hitler and the Nazi party. They believed everything had to conform and therefore underwent heavy and consistent censorship. This obliterated any potential conflict, but also allowed music to become a form of propaganda and a control tool to get through to the people. German composers from the 17th to 19th…show more content…
The most common use of music in concentration camps was as punishment for the prisoners, this was called Music on Command. It was used as a way to humiliate or degrade the prisoners during physical labour or during an execution. The guards would demand them to sing a song often with their lives at stake. The songs often had double meanings or salacious lyrics to shame those involved. It was also used as a way of making fun of a person’s religion or race. Many camps had their own special anthem which prisoners would be also forced to sing. Musicians were very scarce in concentration camps in the early years of the Third Reich, but during World War 2 with the high increase of prisoners brought many artists, musicians and intellectuals. Of course the playing or composition of music was rare and very difficult for prisoners to carry out but, in some rare cases musical instruments were obtained as ‘rewards’ from the SS to promote hard work and good behaviour. The most famous case of this was the composition of ‘The Quartet for the End of Time’ by Olivier Messiaen. Messiaen was a prisoner in the camp Stalag in Gorlitz. Among his fellow prisoners were clarinettist Henri Akoka, violinist Jean de Boulaire and cellist Etienne Pasquier. While in the camp he obtained a pencil and small sheet of paper from a sympathetic guard. He composed a trio for them in which later developed into a quartet with him on piano. The piece was first…show more content…
It was a dangerous totalitarian state, which carried out severe and irrational actions. Music was a significant and dominant aspect of the state which put musicians, composers and musicologists under intense scrutiny and public attention. Inevitably this led to the dismantling of many music organizations and societies, as well as the outlawing of contrarian and exotic music. I have explored the role of music within the titles of banned and controversial music, music and concentration camps and music that succeeded within Nazi Germany. The question in mind is; what was the effect of this forceful and aggressive regime set upon music? The large scale destruction and oppression of art has in some sense allowed for artistic creation to blossom. Pieces such as Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time and Strauss’ Metamorphosen were created and inspired by great tragedy and frustration caused by Hitler’s Third Reich. In spite of this there is no denying the fact that many artists were silenced during this period, a numerous amount were killed along with the other 11 million victims during the Holocaust. Others despondently lived in fear, intimidated into not disobeying strict regimes. Regardless of their unavoidable life changing fate, each musician made a choice which shaped
Open Document