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"What can you say to music like that, except: Get me a horse, I want to INVADE something!"
Mark Steel on Beethoven

Art produced in Germany has had a startling tendency to be viewed by non-Germans through the prism of is this Nazism or not? This especially applies to German music. And, indeed, to any music that "sounds German" regardless of whether or not it was made in Germany.

Music to Invade Poland To refers to any music that gets accused of being Nazi because it sounds "Germanic," "Teutonic," "Wagnerian," or the like.

For the most part, Music to Invade Poland To does not advocate National Socialism. Unfortunately, the use of bombastic, dramatic, "Germanic-sounding" music as soundtracks in World War Two films has cemented the association between grandiose, orchestral music set to relatively steady tempos with authoritarian and racist political movements.

This is not yet a Discredited Trope. The Trope Namer is a particularly infamous review of Rammstein's album Mutter; the review described the album as "Music To Invade Poland To." This trope is actually very common in Germany to this day, where it isn't even limited to music. Pretty much everything that could invoce similar associations creates the same feeling of unease with most Germans.

Not to be confused with Loud of War. May be associated with Germanic Depressives.

Actual military music from the Third Reich tends to be quite subtle and melodic, and is more often than not intended to be sung while... you know, actually invading Poland...

Examples of Music to Invade Poland To include:


Anime and Manga

  • The Britannian Anthem in Code Geass sounds aggressive and Germanic.
    • Notably, it's in English. This trope is what made most Japanese viewers mistake it for German.
  • Germany's Anthem from Axis Powers Hetalia parodies this trope, combining an extremely militaristic tune with frivolous lyrics such as "Polish this room and don't whine about it " and "I want to eat wurst with some beer".


Films

  • Triumph of the Will. Justified because the film actually is Nazi propaganda, and deliberately appeals to the audience's passions with dramatic, soaring music.
  • Oceania, 'Tis For Thee from Michael Radford's adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery invokes and lampshades this trope when Larry, played by Woody Allen, Larry says, "I can't listen to that much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland."
  • The Imperial March from Star Wars intentionally invokes this. The tempo is steady, the chord progressions are solemn and grandiose, and the music accompanies scenes of a totalitarian regime with a great sense of theatrical panache.
    • Subverted by the Filk version "Darth Vader's Mother" ("...wears army boots.")
  • Done deliberately in Killer Klowns From Outer Space; the composer has referred to the music played when the Klowns march the collection machine through the town as "tanks rolling into Poland", done so that the scene wouldn't be considered as funny as the rest of the movie.
  • Casablanca had a well-known scene in which German officers singing a German song are eventually drowned out when the rest of the bar begins singing the La Marseillaise. The song was originally intended to be the Horst-Wessel-Lied, the official anthem of the Nazi party, however the actual song used is Die Wacht Am Rhein -- a German military song, for sure, but unaffiliated with the Nazi party. Warners was unable to use the Horst-Wessel-Lied due to copyright complications in neutral countries.
  • In Cabaret, a bright young Aryan stands up in a cafe and begins singing "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" as a portent of the age to come.
  • In Lars von Trier's Melancholia, the overture from Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is used as the main musical theme. Von Trier even joked that he was a Nazi!


Literature

  • As a character in Gravity's Rainbow has it: "A person feels good listening to Rossini. All you feel like listening to Beethoven is going out and invading Poland."


Live Action TV

  • In Curb Your Enthusiasm, lead character Larry David expresses his appreciation of the music of Wagner. He is a Jew but is not a particularly devout one, however, other Jewish people around him are shocked when they find out he likes Wagner. He claims that he likes the music and does not care what it's associated with.


Music

  • Rammstein, for obvious reasons. The band later wrote "Links 2-3-4" as a response to accusations of Nazism. But since the song's based on a German drill instructor's chant, and you're not going to pick up on the "We're left-wing, dammit!" message in the lyrics if you don't actually speak German, the message didn't exactly get through.. To wit, the Trope Naming review was of Mutter, the album containing "Links 2-3-4".
  • Industrial Metal bands other than Rammstein are also accused of this. German band KMFDM was accused of this in the aftermath of the Columbine massacre.
  • E Nomine has some songs that raised questions, such as Ring der Nibelungen, in that case due to fair parts being march music and repeated mentions to a 'Reich'. It's based on the Opera by Wagner.
  • Richard Wagner is not a justified application of this trope. Although Wagner occasionally expressed anti-Semitic viewpoints, he was also a left-leaning socialist for much of his life. Wagner befriended Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakhunin and participated in the Dresden May Uprising, which caused him to be exiled by the Saxon government. Wagner died in 1883 and was extremely unlucky in that the Nazis appropriated his music fifty years after his death and permanently smeared his character for people unfamiliar with his actual music. Thus, today any of his music or other dramatic sounding music will be unfairly associated with fascistic political views that Wagner never held. People who have actually seen his music dramas realize they advocate something close to anarchism: power is evil, love is good.
    • David Goldman, writing as Spengler in the Asia Times, wrote an article on why Wagner was popular and why the Nazis felt such affinity. There was hardly a political movement promising a new man for a new dawn that did not traffic in similar ideas.
    • People probably associate Wagner with Nazis since Adolf Hitler himself said that "You cannot understand National Socialism without understanding Wagner." It probably didn't help that Wagners daughter in law and heir of his estate was a personal friend and prominent supporter of Hitler
    • During the Battle of Kursk in 1943, the greatest tank battle in history, an SS armoured division played Ride of the Valkyries over the radio to inspire and elevate the tankers to deeds of glory...
    • Lampshaded in Edmund Crispin's mystery novel SWAN SONG. We have the sophomoric anti-Wagner comments of Oxford students met by a girl who tries to point out how illogical they are, and complaints by a German refugee (who, ironically, has delayed his return because Wagner is now taboo in Germany and he can only attend the operas in England.)
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven also gets, at times, used as the background music for scenes of German fascism. Beethoven would be rolling in his grave if he knew, since he was a pacifist if there ever was one. He was in full support of The French Revolution; dedicated his Third Symphony (Eroica) to Napoleon when he was a good general of the Revolution; promptly un-dedicated it when Napoleon betrayed the Revolution to become Emperor; and his Ode to Joy is a setting of a poem calling for "all men to be brothers" and various other classically liberal lines.
    • For bonus points, the text of "Ode to Joy" is adapted from a poem by Schiller, the poet-playwright who celebrated the striving for liberty, equality, and fraternity in play after play. The best part? In Schiller's version, the quoted line went "Beggars become princes' brothers." If anything, Beethoven was more liberal than Schiller.
    • Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was used by the Allies as a motif in propaganda films ('V' for 'Victory' and fate knocking at Nazi Germany's door). Helpfully illustrated by Donald Duck here (starting at about 2:30, and proceeding throughout the rest of the clip ).
  • Das Deutschlandlied, better known as Deutschland Über Alles, whose first line translates "Germany over all", is assumed to refer to the goal of Germany to Take Over the World. In truth, the song was written by a nineteenth-century liberal, who wanted Germans to put aside petty provincial distinctions (such as being Prussian, Bavarian, or Austrian), eschew the divisive and reactionary petty states, and think of themselves as united Germans above all else. He was, in fact, expressing a desire for German unity, not domination.
    • A better translation of "Über Alles" is "above everything".
    • The main reason the first and second stanza aren't used as the actual anthem in Germany anymore is that the first verse references the borders of the German nation, using the names of rivers that aren't in Germany anymore. The second verse, which sounds more like a drinking song than an anthem (it opens with "German women, German loyalty/German wine and German song"), was just never as popular.
      • The first stanza is commonly misinterpreted. It was never meant as Germany having these rivers as it's borders, it was more like Germany being somewhere between them. Though from hearing the stanza, one could get the wrong idea...
    • The third stanza is today's national anthem of Germany. The first line is "Unity and Justice and Freedom", which sounds way more peaceful. Or considering the second verse, less drunk.
      • Somewhat amusingly, however, the chorus of the third stanza has an alternate version, written by the original author; rather than well-wishes for Germany, it is quite literally a toast to German prosperity ("Raise your glasses and shout together/Prosper, German fatherland!"). The author also apparently scratched out the first draft in a tavern, so perhaps it's best to think of the whole thing as a drinking song.
    • The melody comes from Joseph Haydn's hymn to Kaiser Franz of Austria, which he then used as the theme for the second movement of the "Emperor" String Quartet (hence the name), making it Older Than Radio. Haydn's Kaiser hymn was, incidentally, inspired by hearing God Save The King on a trip to London.
    • It is also used as the tune for the hymns "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken", and labeled in hymnals as "Austrian Hymn".
  • Liszt's LES PRELUDES also gets tarred because a theme from it was used to introduce news (or propaganda) bulletins on Deutschlandsender during the war.
  • Industrial music, which is relatively popular in Germany, often gets accused of being National Socialist. In particular, bands like Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb (the latter of which deliberately cultivated a militaristic, Germanic image, and neither of which were actually German) were on the receiving end of this accusation regularly.
    • Industrial act Laibach very deliberately invoked this trope and made dramatic, Germanic-sounding, martial music. They pushed the nationalism angle further by issuing passports and claiming to have formed their own state. They're Slovenes. Laibach is the German name of Slovenia's capital (Ljubljana).
      • One of the most worryingly apt Music To Invade Poland To songs is a cover of Queen's One Vision translated to German.
  • Industrial Metal project Hanzel Und Gretyl (which usually sings in German, but is composed of Americans) deliberately invoked this in their album Uber Alles. They wanted an album that invoked every single German cliche imaginable, so they went for what they called the "obvious German cliche." Some song titles include "Third Reich From The Sun" and "SS Deathstar Supergalactik." The album was banned in Germany.
  • Possibly played with by Accept, who placed a snippet of "Ein Heller und Ein Batzen" at the beginning of "Fast as a Shark". The former was a folk song which, reportedly, was used by Nazi troops to announce the impending invasion to the luckless nations they "visited."
    • According to Wolf Hoffmann, they didn't know about that song's use as a marching song by the army until eastern European people started complaining about it, and that they chose that particular folk song because 1) the chorus has no real words, but just "heidi heido heida", and 2) that particular recording of the song was sung by studio owner Dieter Dierks when he was young.
  • The genre of Power Metal is also Music to Invade Poland To. The Power Metal band Blind Guardian, for instance, are basically Fantasy Geeks that make bombastic, Teutonic-sounding Heavy Mithril. Unsurprisingly, they are accused of Nazism. (It might be important to note that the band, or at least vocalist/songwriter Hansi Kürsch, is reportedly a left-leaning liberal. They don't talk about politics much, though.)
    • There are some actual National Socialist metal bands, some of which indulge in Viking mythology to the point of practicing racist variants of Asatru (Norse neo-Paganism), but such groups make up only a minority of metal acts.
    • In recent years, the rise of folk metal and viking metal has been met with a rise of paranoia from anti-Nazi activists, leading to bands' gigs being protested for something as innocent as including Germanic runes in their logos or album art -- often, ironically, in Germany. One such case was with the recent Paganfest tour. The bands responded with surprising restraint.
  • The Mexican National Anthem (YouTube), which is extremely Teutonic and military.
  • Kraftwerk got their share of this too, mainly for their cold, modernist, inhuman aesthetic.
    • Never mind that the Nazis loathed modernism, or at least claimed to. They even shut down the Bauhaus, known for its "Kraftwerkian" ideals of love and acceptance of technology.
  • A lot of Imperial German marches were recycled by the Nazis, and so have since become associated with them. Probably the best example is the Königgrätzer Marsch, written to commemorate the victory of Prussia over Austria in 1866, but best known for being played at the book burning in The Last Crusade.
  • Joy Division's first EP had a black-and-white picture of a blonde Hitler Youth member beating a drum on its cover. Then they were surprised that people thought they were Nazis.
    • Also, the name.
    • When the band reformed, they kept the joke by renaming the themselves New Order.
  • Pretty much every Neofolk band is made of this trope. It doesn't help that a minority of them *cough*Boyd Rice*cough* actually are fascists.
    • Boyd Rice is an arguable case. Von Thronstahl, however, are pretty much confirmed as Nazis.
    • Martial industrial, which is closely related to neofolk, is based off of military marches.
  • One of the many explanations constructed for Tool's "Die Eier Von Satan" is that the song, which is set to a heavy metal/industrial sound and spoken in angry German while the lyrics turn out to be a cookie recipe, was intended to satirize this trope, though it should be mentioned that the cookies in question are hash cookies. [1]
  • Oddly enough, the Death Metal band Vader gets this a lot due to the video for "Cold Demons", which heavily features WWII footage of Panzer tanks. This accusation is ridiculous, of course, when you learn that the band is Polish. Not that Polish Nazi bands do exist; Vader just isn't one of them.
  • Inverted with "Never Again" by Disturbed, which is a pissed-off Jewish Heavy Metal musician yelling at neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.
  • Sabaton get this a lot. They make bombastic power metal, their vocalist rolls his Rs in a very particular way, and most of their songs are about WW I and II, quite a few of them from the perspective of German forces. Disregard that they have several songs from the perspective of the nations fighting against Nazi Germany as well as definite anti-war anthems, and that their eight minute epic about the Nazi's rise to power is called Rise of Evil. Oh, and the band is Swedish.
    • Don't forget "Counterstrike", their song about the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War.
    • They also have at least two songs ("40:1" and "Uprising") celebrating the Polish soldiers who fought off the Nazis.
    • Particularly funny would be "Panzerkampf", which is often flagged on YouTube as "inapproppriate", despite its lyrics in clear and unambiguous English describing the Soviet counterattack at Kursk, which finally broke the invasion.
  • Type O Negative were accused of being Nazis during their first European tour, due to their song "Der Undermensch", which was written about "social parasites", such as drug dealers and welfare cheats. The hilarious Irony of this is the fact that their keyboard player, Josh Silver is Jewish.
    • Which led to them writing "We Hate Everyone" and "Kill All The White People" for their next album. Of course, it is likely many did not realise they were sarcasitcally poking fun at the situation.
  • Slayer's "Angel of Death" made the band face accusations of being Nazi sympathizers for writing a song about Josef Mengele, a doctor who performed heinous experiments on Jewish concentration camp prisoners. While the band denies condoning his actions and claims they wrote merely the song because they thought it was an interesting subject, they're still sometimes labeled as neo-Nazis. Seeing as the song is performed from the perspective of Mengele (or, at least, one of his lackeys), and sounds downright gleeful, it's no wonder the Hatedom's unconvinced.
  • The German band Scooter, simply because their vocalist is a blond haired, blue eyed, tall guy who shouts at people to "Move Their Ass" and to "Get Ready For The Next Attack". It also doesn't help the band love wearing matching uniforms, as seen on the cover for the album "Under The Radar Over The Top", and the singles "The Night" and "The Age Of Love".
  • A lot of the German military marches used in World War II such as "Die Wacht Am Rhein", "Erika", and of course "Lili Marleen". Even though this last was eagerly adopted by the British, who heard their German opposition singing it in North Africa, and given English lyrics.
  • The Blue Oyster Cult's live rabble-rouser ME262, which namechecks Hitler and Goering and which tells the story of the last days of WW 2 through the PoV of a jet fighter ace, has a middle eight punctuating guitar stings with the sound of falling bombs and marching jackboots. Despite the fact the BOC have names like Bloom and Pearlman and Roeser, and by inference belong to the last ethnicity to be sympathetic to Nazism, they were accused of Nazi sympathies.
  • The Ramones had goofy semi-hits like "Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World" and "Kommando" that traded on Nazi imagery. A few listeners didn't get the joke, and didn't realize that Joey was Jewish.
  • Gothic Industrial singer Yade often invokes this, with a Nazi-inspired uniform and songs about revolutions, though the lyrics are either anarchistic, or too vague to associate with an ideology. It doesn't help he is Swiss-German, which straddles the very uncomfortable line between "Oh he is not German then" and the accusation that Swiss Nazis (or supporters) were Karma Houdinis in the post-war Europe.
  • German Industrial/EBM group X-Fusion invokes this in "Follow Your Leader". It is peppered with voice clips of Hitler from rallies and has a somewhat militaristic tune. But the lyrics are actually a rage-filled tirade against those who followed Hitler, and those who stood by the sides and let it happen. Arguably, it is also a general rant against tyranny.

  Follow your leader, you misguided fools. Follow your leader, lest you break any rules.


Theatre

  • In Clare Boothe Luce's play Margin for Error, the consul to Nazi Germany has bought a record of Richard Wagner's "Liebestod", but puts on the wrong record first:

 Max: I--I was just listening to the music--

Consul: Yes, very soothing. Hitler and I also have Wagner in common.

Max: That's not Wagner. That's Mendelssohn. Played by Heifetz.


Western Animation

  • The "Breen National Anthem", Leitmotif of Aeon Flux's primary antagonists, has a deliberate Wagnerian sound to it. Originally it was meant to represent a single character, a very Germanic-looking soldier in one of the original Liquid Television shorts (who died a minute into his first and only appearance), but the music was kept because it was felt that it suited the nation of Bregna's authoritarian character.
  • In one Family Guy special, Alex Borstein objected to Seth McFarlane singing "Edelweiss" on account of her being Jewish. Nevermind that the song is probably most strongly connected with the extremely anti-Nazi The Sound of Music in most people's minds.


Real Life

  • During the Vietnam War, the Army actually did use music like Wagner to intimidate North Vietnamese forces. The iconic scene in Apocalypse Now is indeed based in fact.
  • The state of Israel has long had something of an unofficial ban on the performance of Wagner's music. There's been some movement on that front in recent years, but it is understandably a rather contentious issue. It may or may not also be retribution for Nazi Germany's ban on the music of Felix Mendelssohn.
  • Chopin's Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1 is an inversion of the trope. It was played on Polish national radio the day Germany attacked, thus making it "music to be invaded by Nazi Germany to".

Notes

  1. "Eine Messerspitze türkisches Haschisch" means "one pinch of Turkish hashish."
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