Created By: StudiodeKadent on January 3, 2010
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Music To Invade Poland To

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Unfortunate Implications are rather common regarding the nation of Germany, for obvious reasons. After World War II, every single piece of media 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, unfortunately, 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 Nazist (or National Socialist) 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 big, dramatic, "German-sounding" music as soundtracks in World War II films has cemented the association between grandiose, pretentious music set to relatively steady tempos and authoritarian and/or 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."

EXAMPLES

[[folder:Music]]
  • Rammstein, for obvious reasons.
    • The band later wrote Links 1-2-3 as a response to accusations of Nazism.
  • 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.
  • Richard Wagner is perhaps a justification for this trope, given that he was anti-semitic and arguably advocated a form of fascism. Thus, any music with a similar penchant for the dramatic will tend to get unfairly associated with his political views.
  • Ludwig Von Beethoven also gets, at times, used as the background music for scenes of German fascism.
  • 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 project C-Drone-Defect subverts this in their latest album Dystopia. The man behind the project is dressed in very severe garb and photoshopped into Orwellian-Retro-Futuristic dystopian backdrops that seem ripped out of Equilibrium and Nineteen Eighty-Four and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. The music is very epic, hymnal and Wagnerian with signficant use of orchestral sounds, yet the whole concept behind the project is an anti-authoritarian one.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chopin's Polonaise Op. 53 is an inversion of the trope, "music to be invaded by Nazi Germany to."
  • 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, Tuetonic-sounding Heavy Mithril. Unsurprisingly, but unfortunately, they are accused of Nazism.
    • There are some actual National Socialist metal bands, some of which who indulge in Viking mythology to the point of practicing racist variants of Asatru (Norse neo-Paganism). But these acts are a minority of metal acts.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • Triumph of the Will. Justified because the film is actually Nazi propaganda and deliberately appeals to the audiences passions with dramatic, soaring music.
  • Manhattan Murder Mystery invokes and lampshades this trope when Woody Allen's character Larry says "I can't listen to that much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland."
  • Arguably, the Imperial March from Star Wars 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.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Other Media]]
  • Any film, cartoon or live-action TV show that has used a "German-sounding" song as background music for scenes of Nazi activities has perpetuated this association.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: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.
[[/folder]]

Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • January 1, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    I think "militarism" or "imperialism" (or even "Prussianism") would be more appropriate terminology than "fascism" -- which, after all, did not yet exist in the days that such typical Music To Invade Poland By as the "Hohenfriedberger March" (written by a man who actually did invade Poland), Preussens Gloria, and The Ride of the Valkyries was written. And after all, the Fascists were Italians, not Germans (not that the Triumphal March from Aida is not Music To Invade Ethiopia To). National Socialists were slightly different, and nastier.
  • January 1, 2010
    Arivne
    Film
    • Battle of the Bulge (1965). The "Panzer Lied" sung by the Colonel Hessler's troops. Watch it here.
  • January 2, 2010
    StudiodeKadent
    Tannhauser,

    You raise very important issues. I'd agree that "fascism" is probably not the best term because of the association with Italian Fascism under Mussolini. I'm switching to "Nazism" (i.e. to preserve the specific association with Germany, which is what the trope is about). Thanks for the pointer. However, I don't think Nazism and Italian Fascism were, ideologically speaking, THAT much different. They certainly had differences but they were very minor compared to their differences with other ideologies.

  • January 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    And indeed, Rammstein's "Links 1-2-3" was written in response to such accusations of Nazism.
  • January 2, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    Well, I did say "slightly different."

    The Nazis did have a habit of adopting earlier patriotic music, so that much of it, particularly the extremely bellicose music of the War of Liberation (e.g. Wenn alle untreu werden or Flamme empor), tends to be associated with World War II rather than with the Napoleonic period. Several military marches, such as the ones I mentioned above and others such as the Koeniggraetzer March (used in the book-burning scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and the Nibelung March will show up again and again (you can always tell Those Wacky Nazis are at it again when you can hear a glockenspiel among the band instruments). But the biggies are, of course, Die Wacht am Rhein and Das Deutschlandlied aka Deutschland ueber alles. (Very unfair to the latter, as the melody was written by Joseph Haydn to exalt the Habsburg monarchy, which the Nazis loathed, and even the words were written in the 1840's by Hoffmann von Fallersleben as a call for a united German liberal republic.)
  • January 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Laibach- came before Rammstein, and did it more artfully. They're a Slovenian experimental group who are part of an underground art collective and claim to have formed their own state, the State of NSK.
  • January 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Martial Industrial, by the way, is the name of this genre. It often overlaps with Neo-Folk and Electronic.
  • January 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Inversion: Chopin's Polonaise Op. 53: Music to be invaded by the Nazis to.
  • January 2, 2010
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Surely music has to be more than just "German" to receive such an accusation? If someone assumes that something has Nazi-like overtones just because it's German then that's their own idiotic problem, surely? (Having said that, I don't listen to Industrial music and don't realy know anything about its nuances)

    There's a song in The Lion King which I can't remember the name of, but it's sung by Scar and it has scenes of Hyenas marching about that is basically packed with Nazi iconography. Which obviously went unnoticed by those of us who saw that movie about a hundred times on video when we were six.
  • January 2, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    If what you're saying is true, then this is just All Germans Are Nazis and Germany has some very inspiring music to evoke the appropriate feelings.

    As for the Lion King thing, that's Be Prepared. I think we consider that A Nazi By Any Other Name, Putting On The Reich or more broadly Does This Remind You Of Anything?
  • January 2, 2010
    StudiodeKadent
    Its not about the music being "German" but "German-sounding," and this association of all "German-sounding" music with Nazism. Make any song sufficiently epic/grandiose, give it a 4/4 time, and either 1) sing it in German or 2) have lyrics about things like "glory" and "greatness" and "triumph" (usually in any vague, allegorical sense of the word) and said song will be accused of being, or be seen as reminiscent of, Nazi propaganda.

  • January 2, 2010
    JAF1970
    • Manhattan Murder Mystery.
      Larry: I can't listen to that much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland.
  • January 2, 2010
    Sabre_Justice
    Martial Industrial could be a good redirect. Music To Invade Poland To is too good a title to pass up.
  • January 3, 2010
    JAF1970
    Real Life:
    • The Army did play music like Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries to intimidate Vietnamese forces. Referenced in Apocalypse Now.
  • January 3, 2010
    fulltimeD
    This has nothing to do with All Germans Are Nazis. Laibach (the kings of this trope) were Slovenian, and beyond fascism they satirized basically all forms of nationalism, with song lyrics in Slovenian, Russian, Hebrew, Turkish, English, etc... it's more like this trope is about being decidedly dark and ambiguously political (IE using dark political imagery but without actually promoting any political agenda).
  • January 3, 2010
    Warlock
    I'm not sure if it falls under another mentioned trope, but I think it was intentionally invoked when they were writing the Imperial March from Star Wars.
  • January 3, 2010
    berr
    • Anything by Teutonic power-metal band Blind Guardian but in particular Blind Guardian, who are essentially Fantasy / SCA Geeks who happen to be really good, bombastic Teutonic sounding metalheads... and classically trained music buffs. Examples here (Time Stand Still at the Iron Hill) and here (Battlefield).

  • January 3, 2010
    berr
    • (or really, any Power Metal band is labeled with this, only justified in the case of some of the more extreme "Viking Metal" outfits that really are right wing skinheads who practice Asatruism and what-not. But most aren't.)
  • January 4, 2010
    Arivne
    A Laibach example: "Fear the Kittens", using the song "Tanz Mit Laibach". From Joel Veitch (Tales of the Blode).
  • January 4, 2010
    fulltimeD
    I love the title, by the way
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=nhfbuovlkki2qcx5598xs3wt