Captain America Civil War song music

Text copied from: Fischer, Michael [Hrsg.] / Widmaier, Tobias [Hrsg.]: Lied und popular Kultur / Song and Popular Culture, 59 (2014). Yearbook of the Center for Popular Culture and Music 59th year - 2014. Lieder as media of remembrance, Münster / New York: Waxmann 2015, p.143-170


Fred Pinion

It can't shake a sailor!

About a song from the time of the beginning of the war, its media presentation and its aftermath

The extremely successful hit That can't shake a sailor was deliberately entered into the German media public at the time of the beginning of the war in 1939 with high propaganda effort and even today, after 75 years, most Germans should know it, if not as an example from the Nazi propaganda kitchen. At that time, his messages connected with the life situation in the war in a special way and thus secured him enormous popularity. But this did not come about by chance, it was built according to plan.

The headline had such a lasting effect that it gradually became part of general usage, detached from the song and to be found in the collective language repertoire to this day. Although its former functional context has largely disappeared, the song survives as a happy marching song, for use at shooting festivals, at dance and carnival events, on the radio, on television and also in private contexts.

The modern electronic media of the 20th century - especially radio and film - played an important role in the wars of the 20th century. Radio and silent film were able to take on important communication tasks as early as World War I. During the Weimar period, radio gradually developed into a mass media force in the business of forming political, social and cultural opinion. From 1930 onwards there was the sound film. The propaganda concepts of the National Socialists emphatically and very effectively expanded these new possibilities of influencing the masses. Communication technologies turned into effective tools for mass manipulation.

With the Second World War, they played a central role in influencing the population and, not least because of their convincing power, which is important for the war effort, they made a major contribution to the prolongation of the war and to the disorientation and tactical motivation of the population and soldiers in all warring parties involved. In an extremely ambivalent sense, one can speak of the “baptism of fire” of modern audiovisual media. The medium of television was experimented with in the run-up to the war, but missions that were really important to the war effort no longer took place.

The special functions of radio and film are not only seen in the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (= RMVP), the Goebbels Ministry, and implemented in corresponding activities. There are also some relevant discussions in specialist circles. In a film-political paper by Peter von Werder in 1941, for example, it can be read that in the last few years before the start of the war and finally in the first years of the war, a decidedly political problem arose.

“Political in the sense of guidance, example and soul guidance. Today we are faced with the fact that the film has become one of the most haunting mediators of essential ideas about human beings' doing and not doing, happiness and suffering for the greatest number of people. He teaches people about life that the press and radio, literature and theater are far from being able to convey to their fellow citizens with the same level of memorability and the same broad impact. In other words: the film has meanwhile taken on a decidedly social function - its audience consists of manual and intellectual workers, is made up of all professional classes of the people and covers all generations. And since he is given an ever larger share in the private leisure activities of the individual national comrade, he also has increasingly stronger emotional and emotional effects. "1

In contrast to the extensive academic study of Nazi propaganda films, the examination of the entertainment film genre does not appear to be equally pronounced. The party-conform black and white messages of the propaganda films often did not entice large inquiries at the box office, while the entertainment films enjoyed great popularity. In this genre, however, as Peter von Werder also suggests, Nazi messages appear in all sorts of disguises and were probably effective in this genre.

The song of the unshakable sailor - a propagandistic ideal of the Germans in war

With the premiere of the comedy film Bachelor’s Paradise2 in Hamburg on August 1, 1939 the career of the lively march fox trot begins "That can't shake a sailor“, Exactly one month before the start of the war. Three men sing, Heinz Rühmann, Josef Sieber and Hans Brausewetter. They seem like everyday people from next door, no upper middle class, no outsiders, no movie stars. The "little man" can identify with them without any problems. They have just been in the Navy, on a torpedo boat, and now in everyday life they strive for a fun life that is not impaired by women in a kind of shared apartment, the teacher, the pharmacist and the once again divorced registrar. The chorus motif can already be heard several times during the opening credits. Time and again, melody quotes remind us of the song presented at a meeting of marines, in the new apartment, while washing the dishes, playing cards, even when the three of them jangle the piano. These are the usual practices of the sound film hit era: The cinema audience should learn to remember the new song and carry it out of the cinema, stored in their heads. The staging of the song performance also aims at this: After the second stanza, the band repeats the chorus and everyone sings along, the audience in the film debate, and probably also the audience in the cinema.

That can't shake a sailor

Music: Michael Jary, text: Bruno Balz, 1939

Verse 1 The wind blows at ten force,

the ship sways to and fro;

there is no star to be seen in the sky

the wild sea rages!

Look at him, look at him:

The Klabautermann shows up there!

But if the last mast breaks too, we are not afraid!

(Text in the film) (print edition)

Verse 2 The wave washed me off the ship, The wave washed me off the ship,

there we were only two, down there at Cape Horn,

and a typhoon tore me away. but for me it was a sport

I just laughed: I didn't give myself up!

So I took off my jacket an evil shark threatened me,

and got both of them out. But I beat him to death with my fist!

So sailors do their duty Then I swam after the ship

and are not afraid! And caught up with it!

(not in the film, print edition)

Verse 3 In every port a bride

that's not too much

as long as everyone trusts us

it's a breeze!

But somebody gets something out

then it gets wild, then it's over!

Does she jump in our faces too?

we are not afraid.

refrainIt can't shake a sailor

don't worry, don't worry, Rosmarie!

We don't let life make us bitter

don't worry, don't worry, Rosmarie!

And when the whole earth shakes

And the world is unhinged

It can't shake a sailor

don't worry, don't worry, Rosmarie!

There is a third verse in the print version (see above), but it is not sung at the naval celebration in the film. Presumably, the deletion of the third verse goes back to the Propaganda Ministry, which probably considered the loose morality of the seafarers with their “brides” in every port for the impending separation of families through the military service of men as morally inadvisable.

On August 17, 1939, one day after the Berlin premiere, the Film-Kurier wrote about the Song of the unshakable sailor "... it will soon be on everyone's lips."

And so it happened.

Their singing in front of their comrades makes the three protagonists substitutes for many men who will soon go to war. And they also sing for “Rosemarie”, who shouldn't be afraid. "Rosemarie", these are the German women, be they mothers, sisters, wives or friends, whose further life together now seems to be highly endangered under the terrible conditions of an impending war. And for the men too, the song has to serve as a moral armament. Karsten Witte suspects:

“Fear is her bride; in order not to discover this, a woman's projection was required. Contrary to all claims, the sailor is shakable. That's why he sings so loudly. "3

Unlike in the Bible, where the exclamation in question is still uttered as a request (“Don't be afraid!”), The song immediately expresses the singers' firm conviction with auto-suggestion and before the chorus begins, it is sung loudly and confidently at the dispatcher 75 years:

"We are not afraid!"

The production of the film - Heinz Rühmann acted as production manager - used a "cheerful" novel of the same name by Johannes Boldt for the script, Bachelors paradise, from 1938. The song does not appear in this text, nor any other one. In view of the upcoming events of the beginning of the war, however, the changes in the script turn out to be quite interesting: The "bourgeois bachelors" are former marines from a torpedo boat. They meet again at a commemoration ceremony and sing their song on the ballroom stage It can't shake a sailor. In the novel, however, the three know each other from a three-year imprisonment they suffered together in a camp in Siberia. The three friends manage to escape back to Germany together. Filmed in 1939, the film with such content referring to the terrible First World War would hardly have been advisable as a concept of a funny men's project right before the beginning of the upcoming war.4

Although the film tells a rather silly story, the song of the three protagonists gained enormous popularity. Goebbels sees the film before the premiere on July 29, 1939 and is not particularly enthusiastic, but he is prudish Song of the unshakable sailor and surely senses the propagandistic potential of the song.5 He thinks a lot of Heinz Rühmann, the characteristic actor of the often awkward, sometimes mischievous "little man". For his part, Rühmann maintained very close contact with Goebbels and his family, as well as with other people in the Nazi nomenclature.6 And he has considerable success as an actor, earned a lot from his productions and was always able to navigate smoothly between business, politics and Nazi networks.

Be Song of the unshakable sailordeveloped into one of the greatest hits of the war. In her biographical book about her father, the composer Michael Jary, Micaela Jary tells of what happened around the song after the film premiered Bachelor’s Paradise.7 The Propaganda Ministry asks the music publisher of the title - Wiener Bohème-Verlag - for a piano part, writes Ms. Jary. Whether this is true is questionable, because of course all material of a film production had to be submitted to the RMVP for approval.8 And this also included the text and notes of the intended song. Perhaps the changes in the influence of the Ministry of Propaganda can even be assumed due to the differences between the song and the printed version. Because in addition to the deletion of the third stanza, it is also noticeable that the verse of the second stanza has been changed in the film and now demonstratively states: Comrades help each other, even in the most difficult and almost hopeless situations.

However, in order to judge a song in its propagandistic quality, Goebbels certainly does not have to play it to himself on the piano (he only needs to watch and hear the film).

TheSong of the unshakable sailor must be considered a stroke of luck for the propaganda at the beginning of the war, very suitable to create the desired mood among the population and soldiers.

Although Fritz Hippler (head of the film department in the RMVP in 1939, "Reichsfilmintendant" from 1942) shares with Goebbels the opinion that in 1939 "the mood of the people was excellent from bottom to top", they speak Germany reports by the SPD of a different, depressed and fear-laden mood. "The people don't want war. No matter how it is prevented, they don't want it ..."9

In this ambivalent situation between fear and - at least initially after the so-called "lightning wars" - some euphoria could do that Song of the unshakable sailor become exemplary with its messages of opinion among the German people. The metaphors in Bruno Balz's text can be interpreted in two directions: on the one hand to increase a positive enthusiasm for the upcoming war events, on the other hand also to promise sarcastically relaxed support to the feared Germans who fear war and give them a little courage - everything will be half as bad become!

Hymns represent an external, prescribed identity. Schlager on the other hand - and that of course includes dhe song of the unshakable sailor - live closer to the everyday mood of the masses, show something of the everyday emotional metabolism. The collective emotional state tends to be reoriented, strengthened and consolidated. Fear of war seems to dominate, but also fear of the threat to the private sphere, which was painstakingly re-established after the First World War and the social catastrophes of the inflationary period. Schlager sing about how it should be: But always under the strict condition that the users apparently accept this voluntarily, as they see themselves as the subject of these commercially and ideologically-politically produced songs.

The central task of media propaganda is to ensure that the Germans go cheerfully to war, if possible, to carry it relatively enthusiastically for a distance, and finally, when it becomes terrible, to endure it.

Significantly, Wilfried Berghahn begins his revealing analysis of German hits of the 1950s with a reference to the hits of the war, in particular to that Song of the unshakable sailor. He describes Schlager as daydreams, the contents of which are justified as follies alongside the critical waking consciousness.10

“Since Schlager are collective waking dreams, like all dreams, they do not obey logic and reason, but rather wishes and fears. If they are to speak, they have to be interpreted, because they only carry their messages semi-consciously in strange disguises and on creeping paths between the waking and dreaming states "11

And the dreams reveal that the Schlager listeners do not feel comfortable in their own skin and secretly hope that everything will turn out differently. The Germans were clearly stuck in this dilemma in 1939. This can be endured for a while, at the latest until the Allied bombing raids on German cities and the end of the “Blitzkrieg”.

The way through the media

For spreading the message of the Song of the steadfast sailor is emphatically taken care of. The film comes after the Hamburg premiere Bachelor’s Paradise two weeks later in Berlin for the first performance.12 After two more weeks, there was "backfire", with the attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, the Second World War began. After a month of “Blitzkrieg” you can Song of the unshakable sailor sung by the three film protagonists, in the first Request concertfor the armed forces heard on October 1, 193913, certainly for a much larger audience in front of the loudspeakers than in the cinema before. The charisma of the Request concert for the Wehrmacht, a live broadcast from the Berlin broadcasting hall, addresses the connection between the front and home and enables communication in both directions. The radio listeners, like the soldiers in the distance, can relate the message of the song to their individual problems. And the Request concert Suggests a relatively stable relationship between the separate parts of the German population, it constitutes - in Nazi jargon - the "Volksgemeinschaft" in a rare perfection that can be sensually experienced.14

The three protagonists of the film appear several times Bachelor’s Paradise in other radio broadcasts, also several times on "Request concert der Wehrmacht ”, probably the most memorable live radio broadcast of the first years of the war.A study by Karin Falkenberg reports that in the memories of German radio listeners, this broadcast is named as a central media place of remembrance (although the broadcast with this title could only be heard until 1941). And it always comes back to that Song of the unshakable sailor referenced.15

In addition to the central Request concertbroadcast there were also regional offshoots. For example at Radio Bremen, which realized a corresponding program for Saturday afternoon. That plays under the desired titles Song of the unshakable sailor a prominent role.16 It also occurs in other regions as well as in occupied countries Request concert- replicas.

To that Song of the unshakable sailor - so it is reported in some studies - legends develop, possibly propagandistically driven. On board the submarine U47, for example, with Kapitänleutnant Prien, the winner of Scapa Flow and the first German war heroes of World War II, only one record is said to have been present on the return trip from the British location, namely It can't shake a sailor (Prien's submarine U-47 sunk the battleship “Royal Oak” on its second patrol in the British naval base Scapa Flow on October 14, 1939).17 Quite unlikely, because neither with Prien himself in his autobiographical text about his Scapa Flow experiences nor with Wolfgang Frank, a Prien crew member, in his book Prien attacks a reference to this fictional record can be found.18 It may also be a month after the film premiered in Berlin Bachelor’s Paradise not yet intended for the equipment of a submarine. But there are indications (from Frank) that radio is being heard on board, and that too Wehrmacht request concert.19

On another occasion of a performance the singers of the Song of the steadfast sailor the productive appropriation of the song by the vernacular was also suggested. As part of a celebration of the successful return of the steamer “Bremen”, which was able to break through the English blockade on its voyage from New York in December 1939, the UFA Tonwoche documented a performance by the three singers Bachelor’s Paradise as part of the Wish concert for the Wehrmacht in presence of the Captain of the Bremen and a team delegation. They sing their song, paying homage to the occasion, but now with a propaganda text directed against England (written by Gerhard Fließ), which takes up Prien's victory from Scapa Flow:20

"How gladly Churchill blocked us.

you see, it looks now black,

the German submarine torpedoed.

In his breakfast bacon

every shot hits him himself,

Rolling the waves is over now.

The North Sea became a German sea,

nu pecked afterwards!

That must shake the First Sea Lord!

Don't think so, don't think so, Chamberlain?

And he quickly drinks a bitter to strengthen himself,

this prank makes him soft, you'll see!

The "Royal Oak", three other ships,

we can still get him on the tie!

That will shake the First Sea Lord!

Don't think so, don't think so, Chamberlain?

That must shake the First Sea Lord!

Every prank makes him soft, makes him kleen.

We'll keep wrinkling it

see you want, see you want, Chamberlain!

At the bottom of the sea three mighty ships,

we can still get him on the tie!

That will shake the First Sea Lord!

See you want, see you want, Chamberlain! "

In another appearance with the Song of the unshakable sailor according to the wishes of the “Emden” team, the refrain should be: “That cannot shake the German fleet”.21

Another appearance by the trio Bachelor’s Paradise is said to have been included in the newsreel in honor of Kapitänleutnant Prien in the war winter of 1940, singing a parody of the original text with another anti-England alteration:

“That must shake the First Sea Lord!

If he also lies, he also lies as if in print!

May he feed the British with his Times:

Well get it! We'll see if we can swallow it.

The Royal Oak is not alone

We'll send others to follow!

You will shake the First Sea Lord

Lieutenant Captain Prien, ahoy! ”.22

For the 55th request concert on January 5, 1941, the writes Volkish observer on January 6, 1941: “The musical highlights of the request concert were the gripping song of the unshakable sailor, in whose refrain the audience spontaneously joined in and for whose text variant 'That can't shake a soldier' ​​a troop donated no less than 63,000 RM to the request concert , ... .... "23

It becomes clear that publicizing the song in the media should lead to long-term therapy for German radio listeners at home and at the front.

At the same time as the song became known on the radio, other media were also preparing for the new successful title. The music publishers produce sheet music for voice and piano or voice, violin and piano, also for guitar and voice and small ensembles (salon orchestra, dance combo, brass music). They serve the domestic music market (singing to the piano, accordion, etc.), but also the area of ​​public entertainment at concerts and dance events.24 And finally the song by Jary / Balz can be found in The second new soldier songbook. The most famous and popular songs of our armed forces, which is offered both in large format and in the small pocket edition by Schott, Mainz, for the soldiers, so that they can sing their way out of warlike problems into the unshakable seamen at any time.

Recordings on record were already available in 1939: initially from the three protagonists, of course Bachelor’s Paradise "With the sound film orchestra under the personal direction of the composer Michael Jary". Interesting is the back of the shellac record, which reads: "What is the street for? To march! ", also sung by a trio of men and, with regard to the war perspective, to be understood as a suggestion of an upcoming nice, idyllic hiking excursion (the title comes from a Rühmann film from 1936, Lumpacivagabundus)25. Incidentally, the record will also appear in France with the sailor's song from "Le paradis de célibataires".

From 1939 onwards, numerous recordings of the Song of the steadfast sailor on the market, here is a selection26:

Large dance orchestra, conductor Adalbert Lutter, refraing singing: Heyn-Quartet

Oscar Joost dance orchestra, Schuricke trio

Large Kurt Widmann dance orchestra

Joe Alex (jazz harmonica) with his soloists, vocals: Die Richters

Hans Carste with his orchestra

Heinz Munsonius with his accordion dance orchestra, vocals: The 4 funny boys

The 5 Gloria vocal guitarists

Hotcha harmonica trio with rhythmic accompaniment

The Police Wind Orchestra Frankfurt / M., Conducted by: Obermusikmeister Eugen Filling.

And this list only names a selection of shellac recordings. The musicians to be heard on it have of course also played their repertoire during their live performances and numerous listeners and dancers with the Song of the unshakable sailor intensely familiarized. Some of the arrangements also give the opportunity to sing along, namely when a chorus repetition is played without singing (e.g. in the Joost interpretation with the Schuricke trio, also with Adalbert Lutter with the Heyn quartet). Even the “official” parodies were produced on records: “That must shake the first sea lord” is sung by the Schuricke trio in a recording from November 29, 1939, accompanied by the ensemble Fred Dömpke.27

Postcard manufacturers use well-known titles from radio and film as another interesting means of media communication and present popular songs as song postcards. With this medium, popular since the end of the 19th century, soldiers and relatives can now send greetings to their partners, relatives and friends by post and at the same time refer to the respective messages.28 To the Song of the unshakable sailor different productions appear. As an example, here is a copy from Verlag Robert Franke, Hamburg Lokstedt No. 531253:

The second stanza is different from the one in Bachelor’s Paradise (see above p. 2-3), instead of the fight with a shark, the miraculous rescue of a sailor who went overboard is portrayed there - certainly also a reference to selfless camaraderie and help in the upcoming war. The 3-verse version printed here corresponds to the commercial version as it can be found in music books, song books and arrangements (perhaps an indication that the various commercial versions were prepared in good time before the film started).

In 1940, the mood massage was continued with two major projects under the direction of the Propaganda Ministry, in a book and a film. The book focuses on the popular radio show, written by the moderators Heinz Goedecke and Wilhelm Krug: We begin the request concert for the Wehrmacht, which had five editions by 1940 (with up to 350,000 copies). Goebbels notes with praise:

“... a wonderful book about them Wehrmacht wishes concerts. It is sometimes straight to tears. Our people show themselves there in their wonderful generosity and goodness. "(March 4, 1940)29

It is one of the best-selling books of the Nazi era. Of course it can be with Hitler's My fight cannot be compared with regard to the number of copies (circulation over 12 million30), but with his messages is probably more direct and “useful” in the everyday reading of the “Volksgemeinschaft”. The authors even make a propagandistic mistake when they print the well-known song “We don't pay any more rent!” - a work by two Jewish emigrants (Werner Richard Heymann, Walter Reisch) without those responsible noticing!31

With lots of pictures, funny drawings and written in casual everyday language, it also pretends to report on backgrounds in the radio editorial office and in other media work as well as episodic things from the front, an entertaining read for the “Volksgenossen”. And that too Song of the steadfast sailor wis mentioned.

Goedecke rhymes:

"And everyone knows these three too.

Here they pull off the leather again -

they attach their sailor,

that nothing can shake. "

There is also a photo (by Hanns Hubmann, Berlin) with the three protagonists.32

And later in the book, the authors joke about the poetological difficulties of the Song of the steadfast sailor, Goedecke often used to present his presentations in rhymes:

"For the eleventh time we say the" sailor ":

Now we want to feed the Pegasus first

otherwise we can crumple the poor animal,

smell new rhymes for the sailor,

The barriers that surround Pegasus

(in terms of vocabulary) - he becomes, like those knights

of bold antiquity will certainly splinter.

And if it doesn't work like that, a few liters can do it.

Now he screams: stop, I won't let myself be bitter

I can't find any rhyme for shaking. "33

Soldiers in the field as well as listeners at home and in the Berlin broadcasting hall experience the "Volksgemeinschaft" of the Nazi state, which is much touted for propaganda purposes: a major media event! And over and over again with that Song of the unshakable sailor.

Later in 1940 the film came out Request concert out,34 an enthusiastic praise of the well-known radio show and a skilful media idyll of the "national community" during the war, which shows both private relationships and war-related problems, combined with compiled weekly newsreel material, a film that was extremely realistic but also reassuring to contemporary viewers. With 26 million viewers, it is one of the most popular films of the Nazi era. It connects in a clever way, like the one mentioned in the title Wehrmacht request concert, real events with fictional material, images of the simultaneous war in the East, of the 1936 Olympics, the attacks of the Legion Condor in Spain, with media resonance in the broadcasting hall of the Berliner Rundfunk and a love story during the war - Ilse Werner and Carl Raddatz play a pair of lovers who talk about the Request concertfound again in the chaos of war.

The Song of the unshakable sailor is used as a quote from a post-recorded newsreel recording by Request concert presents.35 The other examples also come from the Request concert for the Wehrmacht from sequences specially produced for use in this film. The special propaganda role of the Request concertDramaturgically skillful as a bridge between the front and home, worked out between general and very personal fates of this war, even the central theme of the war, death, is given an important sequence in the episode of Request concert- Appearances.36

“A film of reality; a work of art of truth. Epic and document at the same time ... the great ethical idea of ​​the German community and fate that found so gripping expression in this film .... ",

Jupp Müller-Marein (later editor-in-chief of ZEIT) cheers in a Berlin newspaper review after the premiere of the film on December 30, 1940 in the UFA-Palast in Berlin.37 And he doesn't forget that, too Song of the unshakable sailor to point out.

In the 1941/42 season it develops Request concert the most successful film at the box office. It is then surpassed by The great love (1942), the most commercially successful film of the Nazi era with 27 million viewers.

After the unsuccessful Russian campaign, the entry of the USA into the alliance of opponents and further catastrophes, the triumph song of unwavering sailor No longer calm down, no longer convince with his offers of interpretation of the reality of the time. However, other entertainment options attempted to continue escapist comfort therapy. The im Bachelor’s Paradise The successful duo Michael Jary / Bruno Balz contributed two great musical successes, which were among the most significant perseverance hits of World War II: "The world will not end because of this" and "I know a miracle will happen one day". Both songs belong to a completely different, rather melancholy kind of song. Although their design corresponds externally to that of the Song of the steadfast sailor (see below), the emotional and musical changes between verse and chorus are also similar, but the mood and text message are now better adapted to the tougher developments of the war and, above all, offer more accessible psychological escape opportunities.38 And they do not use the brisk Marschfox kick either, but prefer the gentler waltz movement. In addition to these two escape songs, there are numerous other hits that take part in the psychological care of the "national community", mostly film hits.


It seems that the parody susceptibility of the well-known Nazi hits also depends on their time of origin during the war. This is how it is Song of the unshakable sailor presented with euphoric optimism during the Blitzkrieg times, i.e. at the beginning of the war. Other text variants, which are mostly to be understood as popular vernacular requirements desired by the propaganda or by eager newspaper writers in the sense of sailorCampaign were invented, are making the rounds:

Verse 1 a ship swam across the ocean,
at the bow of the Union Jack.
O, "Royal Oak", you proud boat,
suddenly you were gone!

The captain peeps out of his cabin,
then he saw a periscope, so fair!
O, damned, oh, a submarine!
The "Royal" is already inside!

Verse 2 No waterdrop met "Ark Royal"!
He lies with a cheeky mouth.
Also this steel castle
swims down on the bottom.

This is how the First Lord lies
no normal you believe a word!
And he also spits bile and poison:
A German bomber hits!

Verse 3 How much Churchill would have liked to block us!
You see, it looks now black!
The German submarine was torpedoed
him his breakfast bacon.

Every shot hits him himself,
Rolling the waves is over now.
The North Sea became a German sea;
nu pecked afterwards!

Verse 4 This is how you get Churchill up a tree,
that's how you play tick with him!
Also the "Repulse" - a proud dream -
outboard already has a leak!

As you can see, every day
a little smaller Your "Grand Fleet",
o, damned, oh, a submarine,
again there is someone inside!

REFRAIN That must shake the First Sea Lord!
Don't think so, don't think so, Chamberlain?
And he also drinks a bitter quickly to strengthen himself,
this prank, makes it soft, you'll see!

The "Royal Oak", three other / mighty ships
We'll get him on the tie!
That will shake the First Sea Lord!
Don't think so, don't think so, Chamberlain?39

As early as October 24, 1939, the Film-Kurier wrote about the particular popularity of the hit song and found that a characteristic of a popular song was being rewritten.

“The song about the imperturbable sailor is repositioned on the microphone. A certain sea lord plays a role in this. "40

This is already confirmed a week after the successful submarine returned from Prien.

It seems certain that the Propaganda Ministry acted faster than the "vernacular" would normally have been able to.

“When you find out that a Berlin entertainment company has announced a public competition for new stanzas of the seafaring song of defiance, that crowns the popularity, as it were. It is impossible to imagine what can happen after Jary's melody. "41

In the Propaganda Ministry this action was definitely received with goodwill and on the same day the Volkish Observer an interview with Michael Jary can be read, which is mainly about the Song of the unshakable sailor dedicates.42

The propaganda song does not even stop at the fences of the concentration camps and forced labor barracks. For example, a variant is reported from the Buchenwald concentration camp that, barely noticed by the guards, slightly changes the chorus line: “It can't shake a prisoner”. She should express a desire to hold out as a camp inmate and not give up.43 Bruno Apitz describes a slightly different perception in a text about his experiences in the Buchenwald concentration camp:

“This was to express how hardened we were, what thick skin we had got. We were indifferent to the dangers of camp life, death and the brutalities of the SS. We had lost our respect for almost all of these things. There was nothing that could have shaken us ",

at most the brutal severity of the so-called “small camp”.44 These concentration camp singers seem at the mercy of a rather lethargic and depressive mood.

It is reported from the gypsy camp in Auschwitz during the Auschwitz trial that the prisoners sang “That can't shake a seaman” after the sports exercise ordered by the accused SS man Franz Hofmann. Apparently a defiant reaction to the sports harassment, which often left prisoners exhausted or even lying dead. In response to the singing, another exercise was requested as a punishment.45

But clear parodies of the resistance can also be found. A French forced laborer rhymes in a labor camp near Garmisch-Partenkirchen - somewhat absurd:

"We will bomb German cities,
don't worry, don't worry, Roosevelt.
We will bomb German ships, more often
don't worry, don't worry, Roosevelt.
And when the whole axis is on fire
and Adolf Hitler hangs on the gallows,
that can't shake Mister Churchill. "46

The text comes from the time after the turn of the war, after the unsuccessful attack on the Soviet Union and after the USA entered the war. In September 1942, the author Emil Deny was arrested. He worked on the Zugspitze in the Hotel Schneefernerhaus, had the parody of that Song of the unshakable sailor composed and probably sung on occasion. The accusation of "subversive efforts" leads to his transfer to the Gestapo in Munich.

The music, the lyrics

There is no question that after the massive media campaign, the boozy march song was able to gain extraordinary popularity. And it continues to this day, at least among the older generation. Even if their historical context, which largely determined the success of the time, may have disappeared in today's collective consciousness.

Can immanent facts also be significant for the success of this song? Do the musical conditions give any clues for this?

Michael Jary (1906-1988) had studied music in Berlin and his compositional plans were initially not aimed at the Schlager and light music sector at all, but rather in the areas of contemporary modernism, for example based on the musical style of Kurt Weill. The fact that he was initially interested in contemporary art music may have been due to his teachers and the special compositional climate at the Berlin Conservatory around 1930 (with teachers such as Schreker, Hindemith, Schönberg, etc.). As with other contemporaries (such as Wilhelm Grosz), the path to the hit industry was taken as an opportunity to earn money and under existential pressure. Starting in 1937, he soon found interesting and quite successful employment opportunities in the film business. Before going for Bachelor’s Paradise is engaged, a whole series of film scores comes from his pen. Also a big hit: Red poppy (from the movie Black trip to happiness 1938). And the text for this is written by the more experienced and successful lyricist Bruno Balz, with whom Jary then collaborates on many occasions (until 1960).

The Song of the unshakable sailor von Jary und Balz initially appears completely in accordance with the standard, a two-part march fox red consisting of verses and a refrain. The steeple could be reminiscent of the Weill style with its throbbing minor repetitions and the descending lines in the bass.

Horrible stories of seafaring are told in the texts, misfortune and bad luck haunt the sailor on the sea and in his private escapades. But then, after short major episodes, he can tear himself out of the unpleasant minor sounds and unconcerningly blur his imperturbability in a pithy (eponymous) major sound. After a strong dominant tension - "We are not afraid!" - the refrain begins. Using major triad notes, he “does not let his life become bitter” and even reminds him with a major phrase of the rather dire initial figures of the steeper, now chubby lightened in a positive variant, even “when the whole earth shakes and the world disappears lifts the hinges ”.

The special long-term quality of the song and its amazing post-fame cannot be justified plausibly with references to immanent facts, because there is a lot missing in outstanding substance. The poetic depth and musical quality of a similarly structured song such as I don't know who I belong to (1932) by Friedrich Hollaender does not reach Jary's song.

There is one difference that separates the two songs: That Song of the unshakable sailor acts as an optimistic stimulant in the propaganda context of the time, intended to reassure listeners with desired hope, to reduce their fear of war, to make their individual problem situations manageable. And initially they actually believe in the good news of Nazi propaganda. With the anxiety of the victims chosen by the Nazis at the end of the Weimar period, the feelings of a bitter future could not be calmed; they sat deep inside, their metaphors only expressed desolate conditions.

Anyway, that Song of the unshakable sailor has engraved itself in the collective memory of at least the older generation to this day, the metaphors of the song can be transformed into a variety of individual ideal images to sing along. And the special kind of chorus singing by Rühmann, Sieber and Brausewetter also seems to have meaning in terms of content: After the apparently serious events of the “wild sea”, the non-shaking of the three protagonists is presented in a casual foxtrot articulation much quieter and more soothing . The chorus cheers over the lamented, gloomy everyday life in a radiantly good mood: Don't worry, Rosmarie, what is happening in the world now is probably not so bad!

Undoubtedly, the song has far more persistence in the memory of the Germans than Hollander's beautiful, melancholy film chanson from the one ostracized by the Nazis System time“.47 Certainly also because he lacked massive propaganda support. Although it also carries out the characteristic jolt from the minor trauerland of the verse into the major key of the chorus of the same name.

This "jolt" seems to be characteristic of the important perseverance songs of the rest of the war after 1942. As with Song of the unshakable sailor there is also this positive upswing in the two outstanding "perseverance strikes" mentioned above from the war time, by the same team of authors Jary / Balz, The world will not end because of this and I know a miracle will happen one day from the propaganda film The great love (1942). Their task was no longer to create a positive attitude towards the beginning of the war, in a joyful approval of what was happening, but now to support the endurance and endurance of the increasingly worse and more stressful war environment.

As an avowed homosexual, Bruno Balz was imprisoned several times, but was able to escape from temporary imprisonment, also with Jary's support.48 As the author of the two perseverance songs, he was also considered by Goebbels to be an important person in the war and successfully demonstrated his skills in the second attempt in 1942 at an internal one Contest for the optimistic song. The two perseverance songs were created in this context and were used in the propaganda film The great love (1942) incorporated.49

About the survival of the Song of the steadfast sailor

How much is that Song of the unshakable sailor Thanks to the extensive efforts of the Propaganda Ministry and the Nazi media, it has nested in the collective consciousness and later reappears in the memories of the Germans, as testified by countless examples in documentary and literary texts from the post-war period. In reports about the war years, in novels that are set during this time, the song stands for his time in the war. It serves as an auditory memory and as a contemporary document.50 Occasionally, its comforting function is emphasized. The boisterous, ironic anti-England parodies are of course missing in the post-war period, that was no longer an issue and the song could hardly be used for more recent disputes. But it is often remembered as a wartime song. The entertainment media in the post-war period brought it so often, on appropriate occasions, that the circumstances of its origin in common parlance and its ties to Nazi propaganda gradually disappear. A trivial end point in the history of reception, which can be observed quite early on, reduces this Song of the unshakable sailor on his headline as a phrase that only functions as a sigh, as an encouragement, as a defiant resistance to acute life problems: It can't shake a sailor or Don't worry, Rosmarie.51

Memories of the song in wartime

Countless reports and texts with plot time during the war years quote this Song of the unshakable sailor as a characteristic auditory prop from this period. Contexts and emotional atmospheres change. The song undoubtedly belonged to everyday life in the media and private Nazi life, an officially approved, but apparently harmless message with an optimistic attitude and not corrupted by ostensible Nazi content.

I would like to go into some interesting sources. These (and others not mentioned here) can be found throughout the post-war period until today. First of all, it will deal with events and memories from the war.

Some contemporaries only noticed later that they did not initially notice the song as a propaganda instrument, but that it actually provided useful psychological services.

The GDR author Günther Cwojdrak reports from the time of the beginning of the war in a memorable text:

“At the time, I neither knew nor felt that this hit was a well-calculated blow to officially feared sluggishness and anxiety. All sorts of storm clouds were gathering in the sky, wasn't it nice that you and Rosmarie didn't have to be afraid? Today I know: Goebbels had pressed the right key with foresight, and almost always, not only in the realm of tones, he found the right assistants. "52

At that time, the author was almost 16 years old and exposed to the Nazi media without criticism.

In a memory book originally published in French and later also published in German, by her as roman biographique named, reports the East Pomeranian "Junkers" daughter Waldtraut Helene Treilles (born in 1926 as von Knebel-Doeberitz), who later moved to France and married there, of her memories of listening to the radio during the war. She hears that Song of the unshakable sailor in radio broadcasts from Amsterdam, Hilversum, Paris, Warsaw, Brussels and Oslo - all from broadcasters from countries occupied by Germany at the time - and is amazed:

"Mais je me demandais parfois, toute gamine que j'étais, si nous avions vraiment besoin de toutes ce villes, tous ces pays, et si les habitants d'Hilversum ou d'Amsterdam ne préféreraient pas entendre leurs propres chansons ..."53

Certainly a very naive perception for the war time, but it expresses a thoroughly thoughtful observation in a 16-18 year old girl with a resilient attitude. Her family was hostile to the Nazis, her father (a general in the Polish campaign) was imprisoned by the Gestapo on false suspicions of belonging to the conspirators of July 20, 1944.54

Arno Surminski, an author who himself suffered from the confusion of the post-war era - his parents were deported in 1945 and he had to stay behind in East Prussia alone at the age of eleven - is writing a semi-documentary novel Fatherland without fathers. That’s what happens Song of the unshakable sailor as a resounding relic from the past. This is sung by a soldier who always sang the song at home and "took it to Russia, where he was buried under meters of snow."55 So he died in the east, the song hadn't helped him.

At another point, on the occasion of a wedding between a soldier and his bride at home during the war, a musician by the name of Zacharias plays old hits and dance music on his clarinet.

“When he said 'It can't shake a sailor', they joined in singing. Three years of war, but ... that can't shake a sailor. Five hundred thousand dead on the Eastern Front ... that can't shake a seaman. "56

The contradiction between the reality of war and the unshakable hit from propaganda therapy is described quite sarcastically, but from the writer's post-war perspective.

A Nazi local group leader by the name of Söhntgen reacts with an ignorance comparable to that of the wedding audience in Alexander Goeb's novel, based on documentary material, about events in Cologne with the "Edelweiss Pirates", an opposition group of young workers. As a convinced Nazi, Söhntgen sees the "final victory" coming at the end of 1944. His favorite song - "That can't shake a sailor" - helps him to believe the reality-blind Nazi functionary as emotional support in the "final victory" that he hopes for the V2 rocket. He fights the edelweiss pirates in Cologne. One of them shoots him ...57

Here the song does not act as a naive message of hope, but rather as a Nazi song. The hit was probably not part of the song repertoire of the "Edelweiss Pirates".

In the final phase of the war, the message of the song can only be understood ironically. In a text by Hans-Georg Behr, for example, an upper-class party in Vienna is reported. It is shortly before the end of the war, the Russians are not allowed the wines from the cellar, they drink them themselves, and everyone sings along with the songs, including some professional opera singers, a piano professor also plays hits, including that Song of the unshakable sailor. It sounds like a shame, the song is comforting in the "wrong" direction, it has a sarcastic effect.58

Comments and reports on the Song of the unshakable sailor from the post war period

The theologian Helmut Thielicke, who was a new professor in Tübingen at the time, recognized the problematic function of this stamina early on. He uses it as an example to explain the difference between “hold” and “posture”. Luther's song “A strong castle is our God”, which sings about a castle in which people can find refuge and support from the challenges of life, serves him as a more convincing alternative.

“In the place of this song - please forgive the drastic comparison - there was another song in the last war, a song that I do not want to object to, that may have served some people well, but which pointed to the last ideological abyss . I mean the song "That can't shake a sailor" Why can't that shake the seaman? He doesn't know that himself. He just enjoys not being shaken and showing his teeth to the wildest waves. It is the typical song of the attitude that does not ask for its reasons, but "simply" stands.“59

Unfortunately, Thielicke does not comment on the “good services” that the song could have done to contemporary listeners. The advice from Berghahn (see above) for the processing of such a hit would go on. And a distinction must be made between the propagandistic function and the importance of individual appropriation. Schlagertrost, even if fragile, can help psychologically, but does not guarantee real help. And it can objectively harm. Thielicke, however, indicates this when he refers to the abysses that testify to an unquestioned, blindly optimistic attitude towards the real everyday life of the war. This phenomenon could also be observed very well with the Cologne local group leader Söhntgen (see above and note 57).

Another case suggests personal memories of war events that are closely related to the Song of the unshakable sailor are connected. Stephan Hermlin, the important GDR writer, heard late one night in the hotel in Moscow in the spring of 1948, like a loudspeaker from the hotel roof Song of the unshakable sailor with a “roaring choir”, to be heard “up to the walls of the Kremlin”. He suspects a record that has accidentally got into the program as spoils of war. This experience begins out of a dream - he fell asleep completely overtired and felt himself transported back to a war situation in France, which reminded him of the threatening approach of soldiers in France: “You are there, you are there, you are there!” (To the rhythm of “None Don't be afraid, Rosmarie!). From this he wakes up and that Song of the unshakable sailor echoes on from the hotel roof, still with a roaring chorus. A remnant of the past historical connection of this song still seems to be clearly noticeable here. It burdens the dreaming, he gets scared. The author is familiar with it as a propaganda vehicle that unexpectedly takes him back to the dangerous war time via the auditory bridge of memories.

Such thoughts certainly did not occur to the German cinema audience when in the film Hit parade (1953) once again heard and seen Michael Jary's Marschfox with Jary and the Schöneberg Boys' Choir.60

Some texts quote that Song of the unshakable sailorto indicate the presence of historical mentalities. For example with Uwe Johnson, in the Anniversaries, is reported from a bus trip in Schleswig-Holstein, the homeland is used as a cliché and, when the opportunity arises, the tourists are played from the on-board loudspeaker with “songs from the concerts of the Großdeutscher Rundfunk and the Nazi armed forces”. Including "That can't shake a seaman (to sing when there are casualties in naval warfare)". The trip takes place in 1964 and, in addition to the significance of the landscape that passes by alongside the Nazi songs, is explained by the bus driver, but without any reference to former atrocities in this area at the end of the war.61 In a very affirmative way, the song reminds of glorious Nazi times and at the same time demonstrates the inability to deal appropriately with past atrocities.

The official GDR opinion brings the large compilation History of German Literature which rightly points out that a crucial aspect in the consideration of fascist literature and its possible system-preserving function would be missing if the entertainment poetry as the most effective literary force were not listed. This mainly means hits. As an example among others: that Song of the unshakable sailor

"A work commissioned by the Propaganda Ministry, takes up a kind of" catastrophe motif "in order to put a cheerful perseverance at the end with a gesture that is supposed to simulate superiority ..."62

In Hans Magnus Enzensbergers The sinking of the Titanic - an epic in 33 songs with various additional texts inserted in between - appears in the 13th song “That can't shake a sailor”.63 The great poem is about a poetic criticism of the belief in progress, linked to the historical case of the steamer, which was then described as unsinkable in 1912 Titanic. As is well known, this monument of technical perfection sank in the North Atlantic after a collision with an iceberg. Numerous texts and images of various origins are assembled around the ship disaster as the core, anchored in cross-connections to all kinds of accidents and catastrophes. The Song of the unshakable sailor in the 13th song, is apparently part of the last on-board program of the Titanic-Ships chapel staged. The end of the previous 12th song reads:

“This is the captain speaking. It is exactly two o'clock and I order: save yourself who can! - music! The Kapellmeister raises his stick to the last number ”.64

And with the 13th song it begins the first line of the verse from the Song of the unshakable sailor, replaced by a line from the 3rd verse from "Closer my God to you"65. This hymn is reported to have been played by the ship's band as the last piece before the steamer sank. Enzensberger assembles lines from the Song of the unshakable sailor out The world will not end because of this (Jary / Balz 1942) and from Christian hymns, but above all from “Closer my God to you”. This collage of disaster songs from World War II and the hymn fragments is extraordinarily intense. Even the lines from the unshakable sailor gain depth and seriousness, likewise the song of perseverance known from Zarah Leander The world will not end because of this. With this chorus line the coda of the 13th song is finally created.

It is quite convincing how Christian texts of support for edification combine with crude hit lines to form a richly pictorial and impressive panorama of atmosphere.

And of course they belong to a blatant historical disaster scenario. But this tends to take a back seat in this form of processing; thoughts of the German Nazi catastrophe would only be possible under the surface of the collage. But as it is, the aesthetic effect of the linguistic event and that dominates Song of the unshakable sailor as well as the song of perseverance leave their historical context and become part of the ship disaster in this great one Titanic-Versoper. However, probably not in the sense that Alan J. Clayton ascribes to them, namely as a decomposition of the calm and sad religiosity that should result from this conscious anachronism.66 However, a remnant of the Nazi perseverance pathos is at work here in the interference with the religious death songs. And it is precisely this that creates the strong, surprising effect of this text montage of the 13th song.

Still to hear and see: the song of the unshakable sailor!

Of course it will Song of the unshakable sailor still played and sung. The song appears from time to time in older entertainment films and TV shows.67 But Jarys Lied can also be heard in very recent recordings, mostly from the fields of hits and "folk music", but hardly experimental. This can be done in the German National Library (over 160 references), via the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalog, via Youtube or Spotify Song of the unshakable sailor can be found in many versions. From Fred Bertelmann and Freddy Quinn from the 1960s to Guildo Horn and his orthopedic stockings in a riot version in 2002, with the crew and shanty choir from MS Germany 2005, 2009 from Paul recorder (slightly experimental) and in 2014 with the Salon Orchestra Erfurt one comes across a colorful range of interpretations of the old propaganda song. Presumably it will live on for many years to come as a happy march fox, for use at shooting festivals, at dance and carnival events, on the radio, on television and also at private parties.