Music to Invade Poland to
"What can you say to music like that, except: Get me a horse, I want to INVADE something!"
Art 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, indeed, 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 Nazi because it sounds "Germanic," "Teutonic," "Wagnerian
," or the like.
For the most part, this stuff does not advocate National Socialism. Unfortunately, the use of bombastic, dramatic, "Germanic-sounding" Orchestral Bombing
as soundtracks in World War II
films has cemented the association between grandiose, orchestral marching music set to relatively steady tempos with authoritarian and warmongering 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"
(although Rammstein has nothing to do with neo-Nazism like real neo-Nazi bands like the infamous, supposedly reformed "Böhse Onkelz" do). This trope is actually very common in Germany to this day, where it isn't even limited to music. Pretty much everything that could invoke similar associations creates the same feeling of unease with most Germans.
Not to be confused with Loud of War
. May be associated with Germanic Depressives
Actual military music from the Third Reich tends to be quite subtle and melodic (e.g. The Koniggratzer March
, a fairly upbeat ditty briefly featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
), and was more often than not intended to be sung while... you know, actually invading Poland...
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Anime and Manga
- Triumph of the Will. Justified because the film actually is Nazi propaganda, and deliberately appeals to the audience's passions with dramatic, soaring music.
- As a result, everything else that director Leni Riefenstahl worked on before and afterwards is usually treated as "Movies and Photos to Invade Poland To."
- Oceania, 'Tis For Thee from Michael Radford's adaptation of 1984.
- Manhattan Murder Mystery invokes and lampshades this trope when Larry, played by Woody Allen, says, "I can't listen to that much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland."
- The Imperial March from Star Wars intentionally 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. (Williams stole it from Holst.)
- Subverted by the filk version "Darth Vader's Mother" ("...wears army boots.")
- The Imperial March is also a subversion in itself because aside from tempo and hitting the downbeats hard it doesn't actually sound like most real military marches, which tend to be played mostly at the mid to upper end of the range (at least for the melody line) and in a major key, giving them a bright, triumphant sound. The Imperial March is performed by instruments playing at the very bottom of their range in a minor key (giving it a dark sound), and there are deliberately dissonant notes in many of the chords to set up tension. John Williams knows how to write a march, and deliberately broke most of the rules to come up with the Imperial March.
- Star Wars Rebels officially establishes the march as the national anthem of the Empire In-Universe. Going further, "Empire Day" introduces a more upbeat version of the march during a parade on the titular holiday, making it more similar to a real world military march.
- The awards ceremony at the end of A New Hope has much more triumphant music... and looks eerily like this scene from Triumph of the Will. Innocent influencing or darker subtext? You decide.
- Done deliberately in Killer Klowns from Outer Space; the composer has referred to the music played when the Klowns march the collection machine through the town as "tanks rolling into Poland", done so that the scene wouldn't be considered as funny as the rest of the movie.
- Casablanca had a well-known scene in which German officers singing a German song are eventually drowned out when the rest of the bar begins singing the La Marseillaise. The song was originally intended to be the Horst-Wessel-Lied, the official anthem of the Nazi party, however the actual song used is Die Wacht Am Rhein (the tune of which is [to different words] the Yale Glee Club's 'Bright College Days') — a German military song, for sure, but unaffiliated with the Nazi party. Warners was unable to use the Horst-Wessel-Lied due to copyright complications in neutral countries.
- This scene is also a pretty nice aversion of the trope. Casablanca's cast featured a lot of European actors who had fled the onslaught of the Nazis; the emotion on display in this performance of La Marseillaise is not acted.
- In Cabaret, a bright young Aryan stands up in a cafe and begins singing "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" as a portent of the age to come. (And, until you realize the Unfortunate Implications you see him as an alternative to the decadence & perversion of the cabaret lifestyle.)
- In Lars von Trier's Melancholia, the overture from Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is used as the main musical theme. Von Trier even joked that he was a Nazi!
- Invoked with the Luftwaffe-Marsch from Battle of Britain. It's the Luftwaffe's Leitmotiv throughout the film, and was meant to symbolise its pride prior to the Battle. This tune apparently represented the Luftwaffe so well that many people now think it's an actual German march from World War II.
- Brought about in A Clockwork Orange when Alex's aversion treatment added his favorite music, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, to a combination of Nazi films and nausea drugs, causing them all to become fused together in his mind and rendering him unable to hear Beethoven without freaking out.
- Apocalypse Now's famous bombing run scene where Ride of the Valkyries is played was meant to invoke this, in order for audiences to really get how horrible war is by likening the battle with Nazism. It backfired spectacularly, and many who watch the scene end up Rooting For The Army instead. Since the practice of playing Wagnerian music actually has basis in history, more information is in the Real Life section.
- In a cut scene from Blazing Saddles, Lili von Shtupp refers to "I'm Tired" as "the song that closed Poland."
- As a character in Gravity's Rainbow has it: "A person feels good listening to Rossini. All you feel like listening to Beethoven is going out and invading Poland."
Live Action TV
- In Curb Your Enthusiasm, lead character Larry David expresses his appreciation of the music of Wagner. He is a Jew but is not a particularly devout one, however, other Jewish people around him are shocked when they find out he likes Wagner. He claims that he likes the music and does not care what it's associated with.
- Parodied on Saturday Night Live (season eight, episode 16, hosted by Robert Guillaumenote ; original airdate: March 19, 1983) on a fake commercial for an album collection called Heil Hits.
- The "Breen National Anthem", Leitmotif of Æon Flux's primary antagonists, has a deliberate Wagnerian sound to it. Originally it was meant to represent a single character, a very Germanic-looking soldier in one of the original Liquid Television shorts (who died a minute into his first and only appearance), but the music was kept because it was felt that it suited the nation of Bregna's authoritarian character.
- In one Family Guy special, Alex Borstein objected to Seth McFarlane singing "Edelweiss" on account of her being Jewish. Nevermind that the song was written for the extremely anti-Nazi The Sound of Music.
- Ottoman Turks used this trope to intimidate their enemies, making this trope Older Than Steam.
- 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.
- Fryderyk Chopin's Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1 is an inversion of the trope. It was played on Polish national radio the day Germany attacked, thus making it "music to be invaded by Nazi Germany to".
- After having invaded Poland from the East and having been invaded himself by the guys who had invaded Poland from the West, Stalin ordered a song for the Great Patriotic War to be written. Listen yourself. Like the Imperial March from Star Wars, this one is somewhat atypical in that it's in a minor key, though it uses major chords in the chorus.