The Swing Years and Beyond
Swing is known for its influence in the United States in the late 1930s and became popular with the likes of Benny Goodman Tommy Dorsey and was played in many a household as an alternative to jazz and Saturday night dance music. What is also not known is it was very popular in Germany During the Nazi regime regime, it was an underground form of entertainment that those in authority tried to ban repeatedly. Swing became very popular and especially in Berlin by the time the United States entered into the war. By 1942 Berlin had lost a little bit of it edge as a cultural center in Europe, but it still persevered more than many countries and entities in Europe.
Alyosha loved to go out dancing it was his favorite thing to do. It wasn’t an easy thing in Berlin because there were many limits on culture music, literature and the like in the early 1940s. This especially after the Americans entered the war in Europe as German authorities worked hard to keep all of of American culture out of Germany.
It was during this period that Alyosha fell in love with a girl named Ustina. Ustina soon became the love of his life. It was a a fervent romance, made more urgent with the backdrop of war. It came at the worst time. Alyosha worked long and hard for his family and his country and despised this rather little. He could not think like a fascist or a Nazi, and never was one with the cause he had to work hard every day to conceal this fact. He was someone who wore his emotions unapologetically on his sleeve. He was torn by protecting his family, every step of the way, and spending as much time as he could with Ustina.
Once there was a girl who fell in love with a boy she probably never would have. They met in Berlin at its peak , and as foreshadowed and red flagged all along they found themselves in the midst of war. At first it was their people committing the atrocities. The fascists, although out outnumbered, had taken over the city, and life became increasingly dangerous for anyone who didn’t align with their beliefs. The boy feared for the girl’s safety, but also feared revealing his love for her. She was a loyalist of sorts while he was not.
In may have been the time yesterday certainly was not the place to be in love with someone who didn’t share your political beliefs . It could have dire consequences as there were no secrets in this town. Your neighbor could be a resistor and suddenly swing to that of a blinding loyalist. So, the boy kept his beliefs hidden hidden and never asked about anybody else’s. They would meet in secret, keeping their conversations light and friendly. One day, during one of their clandestine meetings, his old boyfriend discovered them. The boy was arrested and found himself in front of the fascists’ court, as Ustina pleaded for his own life. As he sat there with a smug knowing smile. In the waning moments, days before his country would surrender, he realized that he’d loved the girl too.much. He was willing to sacrifice his own life for her safety. She was the last thing he thought of as they executed him. The girl was well aware how he sacrificed his life for her, but she remembered the boy’s secret smile, the way he always kept a certain distance, and knew that he had never stopped loving her till the end. That’s how she reconciled the situation in her mind.
Apparently he did not love her enough as he hated the beliefs of those in power much more than he loved her and this was something he took with him to his grave. Bur what good was dying with dignity only to became a hero or icon of the masses.
Ustina was bitter with the destiny that fell to her former lover. She remembered dancing to Glenn Miller and Ella Fitzgerald with free flowing verve and elegance. There was nothing like a beer filled, smoky dance hall filled with Swing. She thinks it is on these boozy beer halls where he got lazy. Somewhere some place in the vast hall there was somebody who hated Ella or Armstrong. This was a middle finger to the master race envisioned by those in charge. There were no secrets back then. She insisted they play the music inspired the directed by the regime.
Charlie`s voice singing ”propaganda swing” still jolts her to this day. The music was pure propaganda but if they played it he may still be alive. He hated the regime far more than he loved her.
On certain days this made her gush with comfort and joy.