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Despite the fact that swing and big band music were forbidden as “degenerate” in 1930s Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s propaganda minister, cobbled together a skilled group of jazz musicians to form a propaganda swing orchestra. The result was a bizarre combination of cheery tunes and hateful rants which were broadcast on medium- and short-wave bands to Canada, the US and Britain. It must have been pretty demoralizing to be listening to the radio only to hear a lightly-accented German interject his anti-American sentiments in the middle of a nice swing tune, particularly when the outcome of the war was far from certain.

WFMU, an underground radio station based in New York, has a blog which features two articles on this interesting footnote to WW2 history. The articles include links to many MP3 recordings of the music.

Original WFMU article
Follow-up article