East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Dr Jazz vs the Nazis


New year, I’ll start boring your socks off again about the joys of research.
I just pitched a story for an anthology, and I’ve been doing some preventive research on the subjects.
Which, in this case, means listening to a lot of jazz, and Django Reinhardt in particular.

Looking into the history of Reinhardt, I discovered Dietrich Schulz-Koehn, a Luftwaffe officer who, when Reinhardt was arrested (he was of Gipsy origin and a jazzman – both categories being on the Nazi black book), signed a letter and allowed him and his family to go free back to Paris.

drjazzNow it turns out that Dietrich Schulz-Koehn was actually a much more interesting character than that.
In a country that defined jazz as “degenerate music” and “jungle music”1, he was a swing fan, and actually published a newsletter under the alias of Dr Jazz, discussing his favorite music.
He moved around a lot – being a Luftwaffe officer and all that – and his letters were also reports about the jazz scene in occupied Europe.

I find this absolutely fascinating, and I’ll spend a modicum of time and money to learn more about this strange character – a man that risked his life for the love of music.

Schultz-Koehn fascinated other people, too – including Stanley Kubrik, who planned but never filmed a movie called Dr Jazz. What a loss.

And having talked about the Nazi hatred for jazz music, dig these regulations transmitted by a Nazi local potentate to the nightclubs of Czechoslovakia during the German occupation.

  • Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20% of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;
  • in this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
  • As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;
  • so-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
  • strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);
  • also prohibited are so-called drum breaks longer than half a bar in four-quarter beat (except in stylized military marches);
  • the double bass must be played solely with the bow in so-called jazz compositions;
    plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
  • musicians are likewise forbidden to make vocal improvisations (so-called scat);
    all light orchestras and dance bands are advised to restrict the use of saxophones of all keys and to substitute for them the violin-cello, the viola or possibly a suitable folk instrument.

Ah, the joys of doing research: now we know so-called cowbell2 is alien to the German spirit.
And riffs are barbaric.

The guys were seriously crazy.
And dangerous.
But we knew that, right?


  1. what’s wrong with the jungle, anyway? Bah… Nazis, I hate these guys. 
  2. as in needs more cowbell

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Dr Jazz vs the Nazis

  1. Good God, they surely loved their regulations to be nit picking and tedious! They suck any joy out of it and it’s just (?) music! I can’t even imagine what the Nazi’s regulations on more substantial matters (weaponry? Barracks decorum? Warfare in general?) looked like… O_O
    Gee, I hate those guys!

    Liked by 1 person

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