[Dixielandjazz] Schrage Musik - was jazz in the Third Reich

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 25 07:27:25 PDT 2009

Anton Crouch and others wrote about the banning of some jazz in the  
3rd Reich. But how many of us know about Schrage Musik?

Schrage Musik loosely translates from German to English to "slanted  
music". Slanted music to a German meant "jazz". So what?

Well circa 1943 the German war machine developed a series of night  
fighter aircraft to shoot down British bombers. They developed a  
highly successful program using Bf-110 twin engined airplanes with  
upward firing (about a 70 degree angle)  cannons mounted behind the  
cockpit. The planes also carried radar sets to locate their prey.

The British had removed their bombers belly turrets because of drag  
and limited success with them. So the German night fighters would  
approach from the rear, below the bomber, level out and from very  
close range would fire upward aiming for the fuel tanks in the wings,  
rather than the belly where the bombs were for obvious reasons.

They were highly successful in shooting down 10% of the bombers on  
British night raids. The high being 107 shot down out of 795 bombers  
that attacked Berlin on March 30 1943.

By the Spring of 1944 the British had developed a counter radar device  
which warned of the night fighter approach. Meanwhile, the Canadian  
Bombers immediately installed belly turrets. Standard maneuvers to  
escape the night fighter was a downward corkscrew.

It is ironic that the country where Schrage Musik (Jazz) was banned,  
nicknamed their upward firing guns Schrage Musik.

Steve Barbone

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list