The Sheik of Araby( I´m afraid of Germany) The first stanza is from the original song and the rest is anti-British propaganda sung to the original tune. Feel free to play or download by clicking on the record image.
KARL SCHWENDLER AND LUTZ TEMPLIN
Radio propaganda broadcasts directed at the enemy was not new in 1940, „Black Propaganda“ as it became known, had been aimed at countries on both sides since war broke out in September 1939.
What was new however was the fact that Germany formed an orchestra to play the very music that had been banned in Germany during the Third Reich. It was felt that Jazz, or Swingstyle music was needed as a medium to reach out to the English speaking world, both in England and the USA.
The saxophonist Lutz Templin formed the orchestra in 1940 and Karl Schwendler joined as an English speaking crooner, writing some of the lyrics himself. Most members of the orchestra were German to start with, but as the war went on and certain members were called up into the military, a number of musicians from the occupied countries like Holland and Belgium, joined the team, infact there was a steady turnover during the years 1940 to 1945. Templin and Schwendler had worked together before the name „Charlie and his Orchestra“ was decided upon and both remained until the end of the war.
Karl Schwendler,was born in Duisburg on 13 August 1902, became „Charlie“, although his real identity was not known to radio listeners for some time. Norman Baillie-Steward, a British citizen working for German radio in WW2 was thought to have been the person who let the secret out.
Schwendler travelled around both the occupied and neutral countries looking for modern up to date music. Then he, Baillie-Steward or someone from the Propagandaministerium, would then write the new lyrics. As a rule the first stanza would contain the original lyrics and the second and third stanza would be pro-Nazi in nature. The theme could be how the Allies were beaten, putting doubt in their victory. Perhaps it could be against an individual person like Roosevelt or Churchill.
It is said that Winston Churchill found the parodies very entertaining!
MAKING THE RECORDINGS 1940-1943
All of the recordings were made in Berlin, all on 78s. Due to the fact that Jazz and Swingstyle was banned in Germany, they were never available commercially and only a small run was made on each record of between 50 to 100 copies. Recordings in the French language were even more rare because France had fallen by summer 1940. It seems that Charlie and his Orchestra recorded some 250 songs between 1940 and 1943.
One of the Charlie and his Orchestra 78rpm records, very rare today and they can fetch anything up to £500 at auctions
The records were used for an anti-Allied propaganda purpose, therefore they found their way into prisoner of war camps and „Black Propaganda“ radio stations like Concordia and Radio Caledonia (broadcasting to Scotland). It was thought that the high quality music of Lutz Templin and the other musicians would cause listening figures to rise, thus giving a bigger audience for Lord Haw-Haw and the other news readers. The british listeners, never as many as the BBC commanded, nevertheless numbered several millions. They would listen in every Wednesday and Saturday evening at 9pm, later they broadcasted every day.
The orchestra was a radio orchestra, that is to say they did not go on tour, but were exclusively used for the radio shows, playing live most of the time. They also produced the musical backing backing for other productions when required. The orchestra was not always told when a recording was going to be made and therefore some would have been recorded without their knowlege. Many of the musicians said in their defence after the war that they did not understand the English lyrics, so were quite unaware that they were anti-Allied in content.
A series of recording were also made in English of German hits of the time, guest musicians would be invited to the radio shows. For example Lale Andersen sung Lili Marlene in English.
Although these lyrics did not contain any anti-Allied propaganda, they must have gone some way to boosting audience figures. It is also interesting to listen to German wartime hits sung in English ( I have found three of these recordings in youtube recently).
Roll on the blue funnel
Under an umbrella in the evening
THE ORCHESTRA 1943-1945
In the summer of 1943 the Orchestra was bombed out of Berlin and moved to Stuttgart. Sadly, no further recordings could be made as the studio at Stuttgart as it did not have the required sophisticated recording equipment. Charlie and his Orchestra continued to play on the radio and new lyrics were written, but no further records were made. They carried on working until the first week of April 1945.
Any recordings post September 1943 would have been made by the BBC Monitoring Service.
At least one of these has survived, it would have been broadcast about April 1944 and is named „Germany Calls“ ( not to be confused with „Germany Calling“) and is an introduction to the radio show and the Orchestra are playing the backing for it.
„... you will all be welcome at the Atlantic Wall, we are waiting for you“.
It would seem that the Orchestra did cut some acetates in Stuttgart about April 1944. An acetate is a disc cut prior to the cutting of the master disc which is used for the productions of records. Some of the records still in existence in April 1945 were deliberately destroyed at the wars end.
Although used as a propaganda tool, the Orchestra was of very high quality and once the war ended the musicians found themselves in great demand by the American Occupation Forces, Stuttgart lay within the US Zone.
Lutz Templin and the other musicians went on to become leading members in the post-war Jazz scene, whilst Karl „Charlie“ Schwendler emigrated to with his wife and children to the U.S.A.
WHAT REMAINS TODAY?
An audio tape from 1973, this was the first time I came in contact with the story of Charlie and his Orchestra, but I was unaware about the background back then
Between 50-100 records were cut from each recording and the number of recordings were in the region of 250, which would mean approx 15,000 records were cut. Take into account the records that would have been broken through every day use, destroyed through the bombing raids or deliberately destroyed at the wars end, it is quite clear that only a few examples exist worldwide today.
Some records have found their way into private collections and fetch a price of £200. Others found their way into a Surrey music shop and around 2004 the stocks were exported to the German BMG label. Up until 2004 almost no one in Germany knew anything about Charlie and his Orchestra, but now they are known in Jazz and Swingstyle circles and their internet forums.
In England they were known before this date, my own tape containing 10 tracks dates from 1973 and was purchased from „PHÖNIX TAPE RECORD“ here in the UK. I knew at the time that they were parodies of wartime songs, but I only discovered that they were called „Charlie and his Orchestra“ much later.
I have only discovered about 50 of the songs on the internet, which would be about 20% of those recorded, I wonder how many gems have been lost to history?
Four of the ones one my tape cannot be found on the internet, perhaps the 78s have become damaged in the meantime, after all that was some 40 years ago and the tapes were sold to a very small market. If I do indeed have the last surviving copies of the following songs, well, at least here are the lyrics for you to read.
The song lyrics written below, are taken from my 1973 audio tape. Are the original records still available for copying or do I have the only remaining audio copy of the following three songs?
GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART ( GOODBYE ENGLAND )
Goodbye England, your golden days are over,
goodbye England, German guns are shelling Dover.
Your lies and propaganda wont help you anymore,
your put on a spot like never before.
So I will say goodbye England, no allies are beside you,
goodbye England, Churchill the wizard will guide you.
For your crimes and piracy, now you have to pay for,
goodbye England, goodbyeeee.
AFTER YOU`VE GONE.
Goodbye Mr Duff Cooper, after you´ve gone and through with lying,
after you´ve gone theres no denying.
You are a snuffing, you´ve been a bluffing.
Your propaganda has seen the bottom of the stops.
It´s really time you stop your drinking,
that will be the time when you start thinking.
Goodbye Duffy dont be so lonely,
you might get another break at fake minister only.
Now that you´ve gone, left to the U.S.A.
SHUFFLE OFF TO THE U.S.A.
Here are Winston Churchill´s plans for the winter:
I go home and pack my clothes, I get my decent clothes and away,
I go, off I am going to shuffle, shuffle off to U.S.A.
German victory has upset me,
perhaps their parachutists will get me?
So away I go, off I am going to shuffle, shuffle off to U.S.A.
Franklin Roosevelt is the boss now, I´m completly in his hands,
and his Wall Street leader Morgenthau makes me listen to his commands.
When Londoners are sleeping,
that is the time I will be creeping.
To the tune of Mandalay,
off I am going to shuffle, shuffle off to U.S.A.
As stated before, there are about 50 tracks available to listen to online, just carry out a search in youtube under „CHARLIE AND HIS ORCHESTRA“ and you will be well on the way.
My favorite songs include:
Whos afraid of the Big Bad Wolf
The man with the big cigar
There are more, but that is my top six. I hope that I have gone some way in bringing what I consider an interesting episode of WW2 history to your attention.