Mike Zwerin: Swing Under The Nazis: Jazz As A Metaphor For Freedom
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For a brief time in a Europe threatened and then occupied by Nazi Germany, jazz was heard as ubiquitously as rock 'n' roll is today. In a personal search for the story of that time, Mike Zwerin spent two years traveling across Europe talking with those singular and unlikely individuals who performed and enjoyed jazz in Hitler's dark shadow. They included the Ghetto Swingers, a Jewish jazz band that "toured" Auschwitz and Theresienstadt; the Luftwaffe pilot who listened to Glenn Miller while bombing London; the Berlin swing gangs and Zazous (Parisian jazz enthusiasts) who risked persecution and imprisonment for the opportunity to dance openly to prohibited swing records; Django Reinhardt, the brilliant guitarist who refused to flee Nazi-controlled France; and many others. Swing under the Nazis also explores Zwerin's confrontation with a past that still has claims on the present as he recalls his own encounters with contemporary oppression -- most notably, a concert tour through apartheid-controlled South Africa with his multiracial jazz group.