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Nazi Germany in “Swing Kids” by Kang Hyeong-Cheol

  • Why were the Nazis opposed to the swing music?

In the movie, swing music is forbidden in Germany. This was because, according to Nazi ideology, all jazz music was regarded as offensive because its origins had links with African-Americans. Since it had linkages with blacks commonly called “negroes” and a number of Jews, the Nazis referred to it as “entartete,” meaning “degenerate” in German. The Nazi ideology regarded the Jews and the blacks as sub-humans, and any form of association with them was not worthy of Aryans, which was a superior race. Furthermore, jazz and especially swing music accommodated all races and all faiths, something is seen as utterly antithetical to the Nazis’ ideology.

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  • What other restrictions do people live under besides music and dance? Note specific examples.

People under the Nazi regime were forbidden to speak ill about the third Reich. Herr Knapp asks peter to spy on his boss, who got suspected of working against the Nazi regime. Also, when Bismarck, Arvin, Peter, and Arvid urinate on a couple of Nazi propaganda posters they got caught in the act and chased by the Gestapo police and they escape only because the police pursued another fleeing man who jumps into a river and shot dead by the Gestapo. Thomas father is also arrested and executed because Thomas accused him of insulting Hitler. Peter also discovers that those suspected of being spies get executed Gestapo when he realizes that one of the packages he was delivering contained ashes of a person and a wedding ring.

  • How do the friends in the movie change? Why do they change? Note specific examples.

Firstly, friendships in this movie changes especially when one joins the ‘Hitlerjugend’ or ‘the Hitler youth.’Arvid is stopped and beaten by two HJ as he is bringing a brand new record home.Asthe beating continues, his former friend Emil who quit the swing club arrives and instead of rescuing Arvid, he beat him up worse and breaks his fingers so he never plays again. This greatly affects Arvid and he later commits suicide out of contempt for the Nazi regime.

During one of the raids on a swing club where Arvid was performing, peter notices that a former swing kid friend was part of the HJ that raided the club

The Nazi ideology also influences who initially hated the regime and he even betrays his father that he insulted Hitler. He tells on his friends including Peter for being members of the swing club and even participates in raiding the club. Thomas finds peter and despite the friendship that has existed between them for a long time, he is the one who throws the first punch.

  • What were the core beliefs of the Nazis, as portrayed in the movie? Give examples.

The Nazis believed that they were a superior race and they eliminated anyone who tried to oppose them. The HJ were constantly tracking down any one who dared to oppose the regime like the swing clubs and anyone found got executed or was sent to labor camps. In the movie all those suspected of being spies got arrested and taken to labor camps or killed like Thomas father, peter’s father and many others.

  • How do these beliefs reflect totalitarianism, anti-Enlightenment and anti-Liberal thinking?

These beliefs suppress people and forces them to do things contrary to their belief reflects totalitarian, anti-enlightenment and anti liberal thoughts. People should have freedom in the society to do as they please but the Nazi regime coerced people to accept its ideologies without regard for their own thoughts or feelings.

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  • What aspects of this movie are historically accurate? Be sure to identify the sources of your information and relate them to specific points of historical accuracy, exaggeration, or fiction.

In Germany jazz music got banned and since swing music was part of jazz it was also banned (Mosse, 1971). As a result of the ban a group of teenagers who liked the music came up and they called themselves the swing kids (Shirer, 1960). They indirectly fought against the Nazis by rebelliously dressing the way they wanted, and doing anything they wanted to do. Also like in the movie there were concentration camps in Germany during the Nazi era.


Mosse,G.(1971) The Germans and the Jews, Orbach and Chambers, London,.

Shirer W, (1960) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Pan, London.

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