Songs to Nail Hitler

Songs to Nail HitlerSongs That Will Help Us Nail Hitler is a pamphlet my grandfather kept in his WWII scrapbooks. The title says it all, doesn’t it, about the feelings of hatred that man engendered around the world?

As I opened the pamphlet I was expecting some sort of vicious lyrics aimed at inspiring the troops. But instead found national anthems – God Save the King, O Canada, The Maple Leaf Forever and Rule Britannia – and several military tunes like All the Nice Girls Love a Sailor, Boys of the Old Brigade and We’ll Never Let the Old Flag Fall.

Songs to Nail Hitler - LyricsWould men at the front really sing these rather tame songs? Would they inspire the necessary dedication and strength of purpose?

The pamphlet also included an advertisement from the organization that sponsored its publication. What do you think?WWII Advertisement

9 thoughts on “Songs to Nail Hitler”

  1. Surprising as it may seem, I rarely met a servicemember, especially those I met in Vietnam, who wasn’t moved by our “national hymns”: The Star Spangled Banner, America, God Bless America, and the like. It was hard to find a dry eye in the audience when they were performed. And you never found anyone who failed to stand and salute the flag. Sure, they would be subject to punishment it they failed, but it seemed that their respect was sincere. I must add that my favorite popular song during my tour of duty was “I’ve got to get out of this place…” It seemed that everyone joined in singing the chorus to that one, with great gusto.

  2. It may be that those songs were on the formal program, but among the soldiers, especially in WWI, one of the most popular and important songs was “It’s a long way to Tipperary”. Do you remember that scene in Das Boot when even the (WWII) German submariners were singing it? It transcended borders.

  3. The singing of Dear Lord and Father of Mankind in the Atonement film illustrated a point to me that tunes for mass singing have to be both good and known already. It distresses me to hear the old words I used to sing in the church choir now put to new tunes. Perhaps someone might have been able to put some rousing or rude English words to the German National Anthem but they would have to have been learnt.

  4. I’m not sure how others have managed to upload material in comments, but I’ve been trying to share the cover of a WW2 song book I found in a relative’s home. I played the old songs on the piano and despite my musical massacre there were a few moist, very elderly eyes. We’ll Meet Again, There Will Always Be An England, and a tin-hatted Tommy on the cover. Wonderfully evocative. And having failed to upload the image, let me copy the link to it in a year-old post here: http://geoffreygudgion.com/2012/08/28/tinkling-the-ivories/

  5. I remember the scene in Cabaret when the young Aryan sung Tomorrow belongs to me – whilst it’s a light song, it is at once inspiring and frightening. I’d imagine these leaflets were part of a broader strategy.. We have an original English copy of Mein Kampf – it’s in two volumes and frightening.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Greg. Reminds me of a book I discovered when researching WWI called Germany and the Next War by Friedrich von Bernhardi. The first chapter is The Right to Make War and the second chapter is The Duty to Make War. Twisted logic perhaps but definitely chilling in its intent.

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