Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Drums Of August

The Drums Of August;


As we all know by now 2014 is the centennial of the start of World War One. Naturally this gives an excuse for watching plenty of TV retrospective documentaries. Less desirable it also gives politicians a chance to grandstand off of someone else's heroism and sacrifice. I am really not looking forward to the next four years of watching Stephen Harper take credit for Vimy Ridge. As if the last four years of War Of 1812 pandering wasn't annoying enough. Still it does give history buffs the chance to indulge in our favorite hobbies; visiting the counter-factual world.

A counter-factual world is an exercise in trying to imagine how things would be different if certain historical events had happened differently, or not at all. Such as; what if Chamberlain hadn't backed down at Munich in 1938, or if the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler had succeeded, or if the assassination of Lincoln had not, or if Lincoln had not been elected at all, or if Bonnie Prince Charlie had won at Culloden in 1745 or Montcalm on the Plains Of Abraham in 1756 or Napoleon at Waterloo, etc, etc. How would the world be different? There is no real answer of course but it's cool to make a reasonably educated guess.

duke dead

In a recent book entitled "Archduke Francis Ferdinand Lives!" author Richard Ned Lebow asks the question; "How would the world look if World War One had never happened. The book is a quick read managing to cover both best and worst case scenarios in a brisk 238 pages. Lebow is mostly concerned with the political and scientific ramifications and spends more time on the "best case" rather than the worst, clearly thinking the former more likely than the latter, as do I.


Space limits my ability to go into great detail but suffice it to say Lebow postulates a world in which not only World War One but World War Two never happen since the second obviously was brought about by the conditions caused by the first. Ditto for the entire Cold War and post Soviet Balkan wars along with some of the wars of Third World Liberation and religious wars of the Middle East. Communism and Fascism do not take power except perhaps in some isolated cases (such as Spain and some parts of Latin America) and the Japanese are still militarists. There are no nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. There is no post-war influenza pandemic. There is certainly no Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, Cambodian Genocide, Chinese Cultural Revolution or mass starvation in Russia. So far so good.

Unfortunately scientific development is slowed greatly and we are still driving in Model T's, flying in Zeppelins and biplanes and riding in steam trains. There is no radar, sonar, nylon, computers, submarines, jets, rockets and various chemicals, vaccines and drugs. Smallpox, Polio and Tuberculosis are still scourges. Cultural development is also slowed. There is still racial segregation in America and South Africa. Jews are still openly discriminated against and there is no Israeli state. Some parts of the third world are still colonies. Women have to wait decades longer for the right to vote and although they would have it by now, they would still not have full equal rights. America does not have a black president and will not be getting a woman president any time soon. No other country likely has one either.


Lebow is mostly concerned with the political and scientific ramifications and I'm not going to spend more time on those elements, instead I wish to examine the possible ramifications on music, film and related youth culture which Lebow deals with only briefly.

To begin with the very concept of Youth Culture and "Teenagers" is a completely modern one. There had always been teenagers of course. But for centuries they were simply young adults, with the same opinions and tastes as their parents. Very few would ever dream of going to university and the network of cheap community colleges were not even built until after World War Two. Most simply finished high-school (if they were lucky) and got jobs. The guys that is. Most girls did not work outside the home nor did they expect to. Most were married by the time they hit twenty. If there had been such a concept as "cool", teenagers would not have been seen as such. They were not cute like kids but they were not as experienced and confident as adults. This is why most of the romantic leading men of the early days of pre-Great War film were expected to be in their thirties rather than the early twenties of today's screen heartthrobs. Women sex symbols could be younger of course. In the end they all had the same political, musical, artistic and fashion tastes as their parents and none thought that strange.

victorian family 960x540

This started to change somewhat in the Edwardian era just before World War One as the strict grey world of the Victorians loosened up somewhat and new political ideas like Progressivism, Socialism and Anarchism took root. New or newish scientific ideas theories became mainstream. Some good; evolution, pscho-analysis, relativity, some bad like eugenics and some merely silly like phrenology. New artistic schools as well; Futurism, Cubism, Expressionism, Art Nouveau, and musical experiments with tonality, serial music, syncopation and Ragtime come from this era. In literature the French Symbolists like Rimbaud, decadents like Oscar Wilde and Huysmans and modernists like Henry James, Joseph Conrad, Anton Chekhov and the Norwegian playwright Ibsen had broken new ground. But these developments were largely limited to a small group of well-off, well-educated elites in the west. The mass of people, even in the Americas, Europe, Japan, Australia, white South Africa and urban Latin America, whether rural or urban working class, still accepted Victorian attitudes as the norm.

World War One shattered this quiet and insular world for good. Obviously the old order and the old platitudes had not prevented a traumatic international cataclysm. Political reforms mostly stalled however (except for women's suffrage) as the political systems in North America were tilted in favour of a conservative rural electorate still obsessed with Prohibition, but artistic and intellectual reforms plunged ahead. A larger demographic of disenfranchised youth were looking to challenge the old order which had failed them so dramatically. Also many in North America and Australia/New Zealand had toured some of the cultural capitals of Europe and found the contrast with the provincial, and often puritanical small towns back home jarring. Prohibition in America and parts of Canada encouraged this cultural and moral disconnect. They also had for the first time the economic freedom to indulge in cultural pursuits like music, fashion, literature, art and film as the war had led to industrial growth. Technical progress was a related factor as suddenly large numbers of people could afford a car, thanks to the Model T Ford, giving them a freedom to travel quite easily where their parents could have scarcely dreamed of. This meant they could, and did, go out on the town every week, to speakeasies or dance clubs with no parents around for miles. A new invention, radio, meant that the new musics like Jazz could circulate in ways that would have been impossible before the war. The Gramophone was not a new invention but it became cheap enough for practically anyone to afford further bringing Jazz to the masses. Jazz was perfect for young people looking to blow off steam; it was loud, it was fast, it was carnal, it was new, it was fun. The fact that parents hated it was irrelevant since kids now had their own scenes. This was new and led to a new phenomenon, a teen subculture with it's own music, fashion, slang, drinks, dances and a sense of itself. Once that bridge was crossed later trends like swing and rock and roll were just a matter of time. Likewise after that the later subcultures of the sixties and seventies like beats, hippies, punk and hip-hop.


With this cultural and recreational distance between youth and adult cultures social and political distance was bound to follow. If adults reacted by trying to prohibit and censor, youth would react with defiance which would in turn lead to further resentment by adults and so on. If adults would ban booze then youth would naturally insist on drinking in larger numbers. If adults insisted on enforcing Victorian attitudes about sex then youth would become more free wheeling. And so it has gone ever since. The rock and roll of nineteen fifties, the larger cultural upheavals of the sixties including the peace/civil rights/woman's lib movements, the punk rock/hip-hop/anarchist/environmentalism/gay rights of the seventies onward all have their roots in the world created by the fallout from World War One. Without the war the easygoing but still conservative consensus of the Edwardian era would have survived for decades, even generations. With a soundtrack to match.

Before the war jazz was a localized music known by urban blacks and a few white musicians. Almost as soon as the war ended jazz exploded internationally in absolutely unprecedented way. Similarly before the war blues had been even more limited to blacks in the rural south, while country music was limited to whites in the rural south and west and parts of Canada. Rural blacks and whites also had their own versions of gospel music as well. Records and radio brought all this to audiences outside their regions and to the wider world that would never had happened otherwise. Some black jazz musicians like James Reese Europe, Dan Kildare, Sidney Bechet, and Josephine Baker brought their music to Europe in person and created a sensation. Without the war would they have thought to do so? Lebow argues that they would have and further that they would have stayed there since career prospects, not to mention social advancement in Jim Crow's America was obviously blocked. Their success in America and all around better treatment would have encouraged other black jazzmen to emigrate as well. This would have enriched Europe's musical scene at the expense of Americas. However I have my doubts about the willingness of blacks to pick up and head off to Europe without the catalyst of the Great War.

It is true that some black musicians did indeed travel to Europe even before the War. Some even recorded there and had successful careers. However most did not. We must remember that traveling to another continent was a much more unusual event in those days. Most people lived their entire lives without traveling more than a few hundred miles for any reason. Unless they were immigrants of course, in which case they made one long trip once, then settled down. Steam power had made long distance travel at least feasible but it was still a long and arduous journey. When Woodrow Wilson went to Europe to negotiate the end of the War in 1919 he was in fact the first American President to journey to Europe while in office and only the third sitting President to leave the country at all. Trivia note; The Other two were Teddy Roosevelt who visited the Panama Canal and Chester Allan Arthur who stopped off in Canada for a picnic while fishing. And that was literally it. In fact some seriously wondered if Wilson could still be President at all if he were so far away for weeks at a time. In 1938 when Neville Chamberlain went to Munich to negotiate with Hitler the fact that he went at all (and by plane no less) was still news in itself. In fact the leadership of Nazi Germany, Italy, Japan and the USSR was notable for how few of them had ever traveled much outside their countries. In World War One this was even more true. All this means that the idea of a large influx of blacks to Europe was unlikely. It would have been a trickle without the war. Besides the Great War led to a far more significant black migration. An internal one.


At the turn of the century the vast majority, at least three quarters, of all blacks in America still lived in the south, and the rural south at that. Most lived lives of poverty and oppression as sharecroppers, manual laborers and small farmers. They were oppressed by segregation at every level of society as well as peonage laws that were barely different from slavery, not to mention the constant threat of violence. Still remarkably few left. Partly through loyalty to families but many were also kept down by debts which could never be repaid and from which they could be arrested for trying to escape. Besides with no guarantee of jobs and housing up North or out West why risk it? The War changed that with it's incessant demand for workers to fuel the war economy there were suddenly plenty of well paying jobs needing to be filled. There were also jobs to be had in the army, which was segregated of course, but jobs nonetheless. The mass exodus of blacks (and some whites) fleeing the south for the north, mid-west and west coast caused the largest migration in American history with most moving to inner cities. And these black internal immigrants took their musics with them.

"HARLEM REVIEW" (circa 1930);

One of the great myths of jazz is that it was spread from New Orleans northwards after the Army closed up the red light district sending the musicians up the Mississippi in search of gigs. There is a kernel of truth in this. Many fine New Orleans musicians moved north who might otherwise have been happy to stay where they were in their easy gigs. King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jellyroll Morton, Sidney Bechet, The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, Original Dixieland Jazz Band among others made their mark this way. But part of the reason for this success was the vast and loyal audience who went north as well, bringing with them jazz, blues, gospel as well as Soul Food and a set of slang as a seasoning. It was this that led to the jazz explosion that would dominate American and world music for the next twenty years. As well as the blues and gospel that (when blended with country music) would lead to the rock and roll that would dominate after that. Without the Great War this musical exodus would certainly not have occurred. Jazz, Blues, Gospel and Country would have still existed of course, but few outside the south would know much about it for many years if not decades.


During the Second World War this process repeated itself in yet another exodus from the South. Besides the black exodus there was also an smaller but still significant white exodus from poverty stricken Appalachia, Ozarks, and Oklahoma bringing their folk and country musics as well. More importantly World War Two also completed the international reach of jazz through Swing which became the undisputed music for young people in the developed world for anyone who wasn't politically opposed to it such as Fascists, Communists or conservative Christians. This finished the job of selling jazz that had started during the first war and would lead inevitably to the later conquest of Rock and Roll. Without the two wars bringing these cultures together in a great crusade for democracy it is hard to see any of this happening. Jazz would have still made it's way to Europe and beyond, as indeed it was already doing, but it would have stayed as a fad for a small number of urban Bohemians and adventurist youths, it would not have become the lingua franca of youth culture.


Besides the larger cultural and sociological ramifications it's worth a quick look at how the wars affected certain notable musicians. For some the first war was a boon. As stated, black bandleaders James Reese Europe and Dan Kildare created a sensation in Europe with their proto-jazz as well as inspiring great pride in the black community. Lebow in fact does take note of James Europe's importance. Without the war they would not have had anywhere near the same impact even if they had gone to Europe anyway as Lebow assumes. On the other hand without the war they both would have probably lived longer. James Europe was murdered by a band member soon after returning home, a tragedy that might have been avoided if his band had stayed in the less stressful confines of Harlem. While Kildare had a meltdown in Britain and killed himself and his wife in a murder suicide in 1920. Original Dixieland Jazz Band pianist Harry Ragas died in the influenza pandemic that spread in the aftermath of the Great War, as did Ragtime pianist/composer Felix Arndt and New Orleans band leader King Watzke.


As is well known Glenn Miller died in a plane crash in the next war. British Jazz bandleader Ken "Snakehips" Johnson was killed by a German bomb along with sax player Dave "Baba" Williams while on stage, similarly British Big Band singer Al Bowlly was killed in another air raid and Big Band singer Chick Henderson killed in yet another. Avante Garde composer Anton Webern was killed by an American sentry in occupied Germany immediately after the war. Even after the wars the draft continued in America and Britain (two countries who had not had the draft before, and certainly would not have done so without the wars), among several musicians who had their careers derailed by the Cold War draft include; Rockabilly singers Terry Dene, Glen Glenn and Tibby Edwards and bluesman Magic Sam (imprisoned for a few years for going AWOL). Old Time Country singer Davy Miller went blind after an infection suffered in the Great War. Gene Vincent was seriously injured for life in a traffic accident on a military base, a factor that led to his later fatal addiction to painkillers. Not all musician's experiences were negative however. Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck got a gig playing for the USO during WW2 and therefore got to travel to exotic places like Turkey where he was exposed to local music that would heavily influence his trademark sound. Nineteen sixties Doo-Wop group The Del-Vikings and Garage band The Monks were actually formed while the members were in the military, while Doo-Wop singer/songwriter Fred Parris wrote the classic "In The Still Of The Night" while on guard duty. Stride piano player Willie The Lion Smith claimed he got his nickname due his bravery under fire during the Great War. Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston served in the merchant marine in WW2 and also entertained the troops from various races and nations and from whom they learned a number of songs they passed on in the later folk boom of the later fifties. Arlo Guthrie owed his biggest hit (later also a movie) "Alice's Restaurant" from his account of his experiences with the draft during the Vietnam War, a war that America would certainly not have been involved in were it not for the Cold War. Some artists would have their careers derailed by the Cold War Red Scare including The Weavers, Paul Robeson and Josh White.


It would be absurdly easy to come up with a list of individual songs that would not have existed without the wars; besides the afore mentioned "Alice's Restaurant", there's "Eve Of Destruction" (Barry McQuire), "Sky Pilot" (Animals), "Draft Morning" (Byrds), "Last Train To Clarksville" (Monkees), "I Ain't Marching Anymore" (Phil Ochs), "Fixing To Die Rag" (Country Joe), "Atomic Cocktail" (Slim Gaillard), "Volunteers" (Jefferson Airplane), "War" (Edwin Starr), "Ball Of Confusion" (Temptations), "Fables Of Faubus" (Charles Mingus), "Machine Gun" (Peter Brontzman Octet), "A Survivor From Warsaw" (Arnold Schoenberg), "Mr Hitler" (Leadbelly), "Fortunate Son" (CCR), "Oakie From Muskogee" (Merle Haggard), "Sink The Bismark" (Johnny Horton), "War Pigs" (Black Sabbath), "Holidays In The Sun" (Sex Pistols), "Belson Was A Gas" (Sex Pistols), "Nazi Punks Fuck Off" (Dead Kennedys), "California Uber Alles" (Dead Kennedys), "Holiday In Cambodia" (Dead Kennedys), "Sheep Farming In The Falklands" (Crass), "Reich And Roll" (Forgotten Rebles), "Nazi Apocalypse" (Simply Saucer), "99 Luft Balloons" (Nena), "Zyclon B Zombie" (Throbbing Gristle), "War Dance" (Killing Joke), "Abolish Government" (TSOL), "World War 3" (TSOL), "Flame Of The West" (Big Country), "Fields Of Fire" (Big Country), "Where The Rose Is Thrown" (Big Country), "Red Skies At Night" (The Fixx), "The Lebanon" (Human League), "Two Tribes" (Frankie Goes To Hollywood), "Enola Gay" (O.M.D), "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" (Pere Ubu), "Final Solution" (Pere Ubu), "Mussolini Headkick" (Cabaret Voltaire), "Baader-Meinhoff" (Cabaret Voltaire), "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" (Mission Of Burma), "Let's Start A War" (The Exploited), "Nuclear Device" (The Stranglers), "They Walked In Line" (Joy Division), "I Was A Kamikaze Pilot" (Hoodoo Gurus), "Tojo" (Hoodoo Gurus), "Atomic Power" (Louvin Bros) "Brothers In Arms" (Dire Straits). And of course "I Ain't No Communist (Carson Robison & Lulu Belle & Scotty) and "Right In The Fuhrer's Face" (Spike Jones). And those are just off the top of my head.


That misses the larger point however since there would be no Rock and Roll at all without the massive cultural, demographic and technological changes brought about by the two wars. Ditto for all post Swing Jazz such as BeBop, Free Jazz and Fusion. I am assuming Swing itself would have developed anyway since all the ingredients were in place with the original Hot Jazz, however it would have developed much more slowly and with a smaller (and blacker) audience. Likewise the Blues, both Folk Blues (Delta, Piedmont and Jug Band) and more urban Classic Blues would have existed even if the Black Migration had not happened, however the post World War Two Chicago style Electric Blues and probably the Kansas City style Jump Blues would not. The more formalized Black Spirituals of the 1920's would have still existed but the Blues influenced post war Gospel and Doo-Wop might not. Old Time Country Music and Bluegrass would sound the same but Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, Hillbilly Boogie and The Nashville Sound would probably not.


Moving away from Jazz and Rock; electronic music is a development of the nineteen twenties Dada (and Futurist) art movement that was inspired by disgust of the Great War when the Italians Filippo Marinettii and the brothers Luigi and Antonio Russolo developed their theories about "The Art Of Noises" and invented giant electronic instruments to play their "Industrial Music". This would later directly influence figures such as Leon Theremin, George Antheil, Karlheinze Stockhausen, Iannis Xanakis, Edgard Varese, Steve Reich and later The Velvet Underground, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltarie, Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk.


Arnold Schonenberg, father of Avante Garde music, was already composing challenging works in Vienna prior to the Great War in which he would revolutionize music by breaking down it's tonal structure and abandoning melody. However the rise of the Nazis forced the Jewish composer to flee to America where he would influence a new generation of Americans like Henry Cowell, John Cage, Wallingford Reigger, Lukas Foss, Henry Partch and Phillip Glass. Italian conductor Arturo Toscaninni would flee to America as well. Charles Tomlinson Griffes, openly gay American Avant Garde composer would die in the 1919 influenza pandemic.



Lebow argues that technological developments were greatly advanced by the wars and actually this is a common assumption. In most cases this is certainly true; airplanes, submarines, rockets, radar, sonar, nylon, plastics, and various medicines and chemicals, not to mention nuclear and atomic power came from the wars. However there are two inventions having a crucial cultural impact for which the wars either had no impact or which would have actually developed faster without the wars. Radio is the first case. Commercial radio began broadcasting immediately after the Great War and became ubiquitous throughout the developed world with shocking speed. Within only a few years it was everywhere and it's impact in spreading music, news, entertainment and culture truly can not be overemphasized. Perhaps the War had delayed or sped up the radio's unveiling by a few years but this does not appear to be the case and even if it was, it was a minor factor.

As for television; it's development was actually slowed by WW2. As I've already written elsewhere, television broadcasts were already well underway in Britain, America and Germany by the late thirties with reasonably full schedules and several thousand sets in all three countries. Broadcasting on a smaller scale was also underway in a number of other countries. The war stopped most of this in it's tracks for the duration and postwar development in Europe was slowed by the economic challenges of rebuilding in Europe and Japan. Likewise FM radio (as opposed to the already common AM) was also stopped for the duration of the war.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ FILM;

The international film industry was already well underway when the Great War started. Full length films were being made in America, France, Italy, and to a lessor extent Britain, Germany, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, Russia and even Japan, China and India. Such figures as George Melies, DW Griffith, Mac Sennett, Charlie Chaplin, Max Linder, John Bunny, Bert Williams, Bronco Billy Aronson, Asta Neilson, Paul Wegener, Theda Bara, Florence Labadie, Florence Lawrence, and Nell Shipman were already famous, the war did not change that. Genres like Westerns, Mysteries (including Sherlock Holmes, although oddly not in Britain), Slapstick Comedies and Serials were already common-place. Long big budget epics were being made by Griffith as well the Italians.

However the end of the war brought about a major development that would indeed change the way films were made and perceived. The changes came out of Germany, a country that had actually not been an important film center before the war. While America, France and Italy exported numerous films internationally, Germany made mostly low budget comedies, slightly risque burlesques and escapist adventures and crime stories (including Sherlock Holmes, always popular in Germany). However the depression, both psychological and economic, brought about by their defeat turned the Germans toward a new approach to film, Expressionism. As an artistic genre Expressionism had been popular in Germany and Scandinavia for at least a decade since the works of Edvard Munch. This dark and moody approach had already graduated to theatre and even two classic films made just before the war by actor/director Paul Wegener; "Der Golem" and "The Student Of Prague". However it was after the war that the iconic film "The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari" (by director Robert Wiene and starring future stars Conrad Veidt, Werner Krause and Lil Dagover) would open the floodgates with films by Fritz Lang, FW Murnau, GW Pabst, Paul Leni and later Leni Reifenstall. Their decade long series of brilliant films would break new ground in film techniques as they developed new ways of using cameras, lighting and sets along with topics like horror, the subconscious, sex, and crime. They would influence Hollywood into new directions like horror, Film Noir, and sci-fi in a sophisticated way that made the films of DW Griffith seem old fashioned almost overnight. Perhaps without the war some of this would have happened anyway as German filmmakers experimented with Expressionist theatre and set design techniques already in use in Germany, (as stated Paul Wegener was already doing so) but there is no guarantee. Certainly the conditions that led to the creation of "Dr Caligari" are so specific to the chaos of post war Germany that it is hard to see the film being made otherwise. Or of it's finding an audience if it did. At any rate even Expressionism would not have nearly so dark and gloomy without the war's baleful cloud, and without this influence Film Noir and Horror would likely not exist as we know it.


Another lesser known but influential German film-maker was Hans Richter, a Dadaist who made a series of brilliant short films that developed new types of editing and double exposures to create innovative collages. Without the influence of Dada he would probably not have become a film-maker at all, let alone a revolutionary one. And Dada would not have occurred without the War. More famous, or infamous was Leni Reifenstall who's Nazi propaganda films like "Triumph Of The Will" would certainly have never been made if there were no Nazis to glorify. Her films have influenced propaganda and advertising to this day. Walter Ruttmann was a pioneer of Animation and Documentary film in Germany since the early Twenties including the classic "Berlin; Symphony Of A Great City", died while serving as a filmmaker with the German army in World War Two. American director John Collins, considered a rising star with the film "Children Of Eve" died in the post World War One Flu Epidemic at age 36.


At the same time, while German film was immeasurably improved by the Wiemar years it was seriously crippled by the Nazis. Among those who fled to America were Fritz Lang, FW Murnau, Conrad Veidt, Marlene Dietrich, Werner Klemperer, and Maximillian Schell. Asta Neilson returned to Denmark. Incidentally a number of actors and dancers died in the 1919 Spanish Flu Pandemic including Gaby Deslys (French actress/dancer and a major star), Vera Kholodnaya (Russian actress, also a big star), American actors Julian L'Estrange, Harold Lockwood, Myrtle Gonzalez and Elijah Tahamont (AKA Indian actor Dark Cloud), Walter Stradling (English cinematographer) not to mention Mata Hari of course. Actor Leslie Howard died while serving in the R.A.F. in World War Two. British actress Mary Lawson (in the original versions of "To Catch A Thief" and "Scrooge"), S.J. Warmington ("39 Steps" & "Sabotage") and dancer Lydia Cecilia Hill were killed in an air raid. German actor Hans Brauswetter was killed in an air raid,actor Friedrich Kayßler was killed by Russian troops in Berlin in 1945. More actors, film-makers and script writers would however have their careers ruined by the Cold War Red scare and blacklists of the 1950's. Polish/German actress Diana Karenne ("Marie Antoinette", "Loves Of Casanova", "White Roses Of Ravensburg") killed in an air raid as was Swedish actress and singer Aino Bergo.

After WW2 the existence of a large teen culture with disposable income and a need to blow off steam away from their parents led to the creation of a new medium; the Drive-In Theatre. This in turn led to a need to create product tailored for teens; Science Fiction. Very little Sci-Fi was made prior to World War Two, and what had been made were fairly sophisticated and big budget films from Europe like "Metropolis", "The Woman In The Moon" (both by Fritz Lang), "Alarune", "Things To Come" (written by HG Wells), "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", "Mysterious Island" (both based on Jules Verne works) and "Aelita Queen Of Mars" (Russian), all aimed at adults rather than teens. Similarly Horror films would move from the moody and Gothic like "Dracula", "Frankenstein", "The Wolfman" to low budget creature features. Other more obvious teen fare would include beach blanket movies, Rock & Roll movies, Hot Rod and Biker movies.

Some films would certainly not have been made at all without the wars; "All Quiet On The Western Front", "Saving Private Ryan", "Wings", "Tora Tora Tora", "From Here To Enternity", "Enemy At The Gates", "The Battleship Potemkin", "Platoon", "Full Metal Jacket", "Forest Gump", "MASH", "A Bridge Too Far", "Das Boot", "Apocalypse Now", "Reds", "Paths Of Glory", "The Longest Day", "Sink The Bismark", "Casablanca", "The African Queen", "Cabaret", "Dr Strangeglove", "Invasion Of the Body Snatchers", "Road Warrior". The James Bond, Indiana Jones and Tom Clancy movies would certainly be very different without Communists and Nazis to fight. Not to mention any number of Cold War fantasies like "Rambo" and "Red Dawn".



Many Avant Garde art movements of the early twentieth century were already underway before World War One including Cubism, Futurism, Fauvism and Expressionism along Art Nouveau. It may be said that the cultural upheaval of the 1920's along with the increased travel to and from Europe probably helped to publicized these movements. Particularly noteworthy are the Futurist war paintings of C. W. R. Nevison, the murals of Diego Rivera and later Picaso's "Gurenica". On the other hand at the same time it also led to Art Nouveau being super-ceded by the more modernist Art Deco and Bauhuas movements. The later Abstract Expressionism and Op-Art might have happened anyway as an outgrowth of these movements but it's hard to see it finding much of an audience in the more conservative world without the modernizing influences of the wars.

crw nevinson returning to the trenches 1914 1339

That said there are two vital art movements that clearly came about as a result of the dislocation and disillusionment of the Great War; Dada and Surealism. Dada was founded by a group of largely German and Rumanian writers and artists hiding out in Switzerland during the war, for the express purpose of outraging the bourgeois society and the traditional art world they blamed for society's breakdown. Surrealism was both an outgrowth of and a response to Dada based in France. It is hard to imagine either movement happening without the 1920's Wiemar arts and Paris Cafe culture. It is also hard to imagine later Pop-Art, Conceptual Art and Minimalism without them, not to mention the works of George Grosz, Francis Bacon and HR Giger.

grosz00 big

As an additional note; for some reason artists were particularly hard hit by the 1919 Spanish Flu epidemic spread in the aftermath of the Great War; Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (Portuguese Cubist & Expressionist painter), Harold Gilman (British post-impressionist painter), Bohumil Kubišta (Czech Expressionist painter), Ruby Lindsay (Australian Art Nouveau illustrator and painter), Morton Schamberg (American cubist painter) Raymond Duchamp (Cubist sculptor and brother to Dadaist Marcel), Toronto photographer Edwin Haynes and most importantly Austrian Art Nouveau painters Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt. Klimt was one of the towering figures of the Edwardian Era and with his love of gilt, colour, glamor and sensuality so if anyone was the bridge between Art Nouveau and Art Deco Klimt was that man. Without that bridge painting would become more and more purely abstract.


German painter Franz Marc was killed in WW1, German Primitivist painter Walter Spies was killed when the ship he was on was sunk in the Pacific, after he had fled Germany. Irish painter William Gerald Barry was killed in an air-raid. Italian Futurists were particularly hard hit with Umberto Roccioni, Antonio Sant'Elia, French artist Henri Gaudier Brzeska, while the founder of Futurism, Flippio Tomaso Marinetti made it to World War Two when he once again enlisted (despite being too old for the draft)as a propagandist and died of a heart attack. British artist Eric Ravilious disappeared while on a plane flight while serving as a war artist.



An article for online academic mag "The Conversation" entitled "Without World War One, What Would Literature Look Like Today?" by Max Saunders deals specifically with the literary fallout from the great war. However he only really concerns himself with the immediate fallout, and mostly with British Post Modernist writers, although he does mention Erich Maria Remarque's "All Quiet On The Western Front" in passing.

Saunders argues that while it obvious that the "War Poets" that came out of the Great War such as Rupert Owen, Siegfreid Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Rupert Brooke (being English he neglects to mention Canadian John MacRae), would not have written their best known works there is a more significant development to come out of the war. He credits Modernist writing to the War and post war world. Pre-War English writing (he argues) was mostly known for it's formal Victorian and pastoral sensibilities and the Romanticism of Keats, Shelly, Byron, the Brontes and the Brownings. Saunders doesn't mention Canada but here it would be much the same with the nature poems and sonnets of Pauline Johnson and Bliss Carmen, and the small-town sketches of Stephen Leacock and Lucy Maud Montgomery being most famous. In Quebec it would be the deeply Catholic rural homilies of Felix Leclerc. If not for the war those War Poets would have been "vacuous, conventional sonneteers". Of course some of these writers did not survive the war at all, including Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and John McCrae. Without the War they might not be remembered at all. McCrae would no doubt stayed as a successful doctor in Guelph, popular and respected but completely unknown today. In fact the Great War took a terrible toll on writers and poets including French writers; Edmond ADAM, Charles Jean AJALBERT, Guillaume APOLLONAIRE, Jean BEAUFORT, Jean-Baptiste BEGARIE, Francisque-Anatole BELVAL-DELAHAYE, Hernan de BENGOECHE, Edouard BERNARD, Leon BERTHON, Adrien BERTRAND, Jean-Pierre CALLOC'H (pseud: "Bleimon"), Jean BOINE, Henri de BOISANGER, Aristide-Louis-Armand BRUANT, Roger BRUNEL, Joseph CAHN, Eugene CAPDEVILLE, Charles CARRAU, Henri COCARDAS, Auguste COMPAGNON, Antoine DUJARDIN, Jean de FOVILLE, Leon Isreal, Jean KLINGEBIEL, Rene LANCON, Marc de LARREGUY, Jacques LAVOINE, Anatole MEPLAIN, Charles PEGUY, Marius TOURON. British writers; H.B.K. ALLPASS, Harold BECKH, T.P. CAMERON-WILSON, Alec de CANDOLE, Leonard Niell COOK, Leslie A COULSON, Richard DENNYS, Rex FRESTON, Julien GRENFELL, William Noel HODGSON, Donald Frederic Goold JOHNSON, Rolland Aubrey LEIGHTON, W H LITTLEJOHN, Arthur James "Hamish" MANN, Charles John MASEFIELD, Francis St Vincent MORRIS, Hector Hugh MUNRO (pseud. "Saki"), Nowell OXLAND, Harold PARRY, Henry SIMPSON, Vivian Telfer PEMBERTON, Colwyn Erasmus PHILIPPS, Alexander ROBERTSON, Isaac ROSENBERG, Patrick SHAW-STEWART, William Ambrose SHORT, Henry SIMPSON, John William STREETS, Edward "Bim" TENNANT, Edward THOMAS, Robert Ernest VERNEDE, Arthur Graeme WEST, Gilbert WATERHOUSE, Cyril Morton HORNE, Ewart Alan MACKINTOSH, Alexander ROBERTSON, Charles Hamilton SORLEY, Robert STERLING, Walter Scott Stuart LYON, George C. DUGGAN, Tom KETTLE, Francis LEDWIDGE, Ellis EVANS. Canadian writer Bernard Freeman TROTTER, Germans Kurd ADLER, August Macke, Gerrit ENGLEKE, Franz JANOWITZ, Alfred LICHTENSTEIN, Albert MICHEL (Expressionist writer and poet), Adolf PETRENZ, Wilhelm RUNGE, Ernst STADLER (Expressionist poet), August STRAMM, Georg Trakl, and the Bulgarian Dimcho DEBELYANOV. French playwright Edmond Rostand, best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac, died in the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic as did Hungarian writer Margaritte Kafka (no relation to Franz) and American Progressive writer Randolph Bourne. British detective writer William Hope Hodgson was killed in action while Russian writer Alexandre Blok died during the Russian Revolution as did Nikolai GUMILEV and American writer John Reed ("Ten Days That Shook The World"). In World War Two German writer Adolf Brand was killed in an air raid as were Rumanian symbolist writer Ion Minulescu and Slovenian writer Josip Vandot, Russian writer Yevgeny Petrov was killed in a plane crash while working as a war correspondent.


Saunders points as well to the Modernist writers of the post war 1920's such as T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway as products of the War. Oddly he neglects F.Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell and Franz Kafka, writers most associated with the 1920's. An even more more odd omission is any mention of the most notable literary development of the post World War Two era; the Beatniks. Obviously they could not have happened without the Modernist trailblazers. This holds true for their influence on songwriting since the sixties.


Maybe so; I'm no literary historian (I'm on firmer ground with music, film and to a lesser extent art) but it seems to me that the seeds of Modernism were laid in the Victorian Era by the likes of the French Symbolists Beaudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine, Decadents like Oscar Wilde, Huysmans and Gogol and the likes of Joseph Conrad (who was already writing before the war). It also seems to me that, as in music and art, Modernism would have more less happened anyway, albeit slower and for a smaller audience.

There was another influential literary development stemming from the post Great War era, albeit one taken less seriously by literary critics; the Fantasy writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Robert Howard (the Conan series), Edgar Rice Buroughs (Tarzan), the Germans B. Traven and Ernst Junger and others. These writers had been deeply affected by the war (Tolkien and Junger had seen action) as well as the entire faster, noisier, crowded and impersonal pace of Modern life and unlike the Modernists, Futurists, Expressionists or Dadaists they chose to respond not by embracing, dissecting or even rebelling but by escaping to a world of Ancient/Medieval myth and allegory. These works, while derided by critics have become among the most widely read and influential of the century.

One more literary development of a more street level sort was the Pulp Fiction novels, Crime Stories, Western Stories (especially Zane Grey), Comic Books and Tijuana Bibles which spread in the wake of both wars. True some of these books and comics had been around to some degree for years but there is no doubt that they were spread by American troops, sailors and airmen to Europe and Asia where they would not have gone to otherwise, much the same way that Jazz and Rock & Roll spread. The popularity of these Pulps & Comics has had a definite effect on Youth Culture throughout the developed world, again much the same as Jazz and Rock.


In the category of books that would not have been written we must also include a number of classic works of non-fiction. Historians like Barbara Tuchman ("The Guns Of August"), William Shrier ("The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich"), Cornelius Ryan ("The Longest Day", "A Bridge Too Far"), Hannah Arendt ("The Banality Of Evil"), numerous works by A.J.P. Taylor, economics works by Kaynes and Galbraith, military works by J.C. Fuller and John Keegan, Hitler biographies by John Toland and Ian Kershaw, not to mention Anne Frank's "Diary Of A Young Girl". The leftist works of John Reed including "Ten Days That Shook The World" would obviously not exist although he would still have written on left-wing issues. Reed would definitely longer instead of dying of typhus during the Russian Civil War aged only 32.



Fashion changed dramatically after the Great War. Before and after photos tell the tale. Before the War women in particular dressed much the same as they had since the early Victorian Era with long and restrictive dress and tight corsets. The ideal in women's fashion was The Gibson Girl. Even those women who played sports, and most did not, wore full length skirts and sweaters to play tennis, golf or cricket. And don't even ask about swimwear. Men were slightly better off but were still expected to wear jackets, ties, vests and hats at all time regardless of the weather. Since most men's clothes were made of wool this was doubly uncomfortable.


The 1920's brought liberation symbolized by the Flapper. Suddenly women could and did wear short, calf-length dresses without corsets. They could also let their hair down, literally, often bobbing it in the fashion of film stars Louise Brooks, Colleen Moore, Clara Bow and singers Helen Kane, Annette Henshaw, Ruth Etting and dancers Josephine Baker and Isadora Duncan.


Men's fashion didn't change as much but it did get sleeker in the 1920's. Fashion and jewelry designers also felt free to run wild with designs based on Art Nouveau and Art Deco motifs. Later developments would steadily move towards more comfort and ease for both sexes leading to the unimaginable day when both men and women could wear shorts in public. Even the most forward thinking Edwardian never foresaw that happening. Let alone today's tatoos, piercings and dyed hair.

On a more war specific note to items came directly from the trenches. First the wrist-watch. Prior to the Great War men used pocket-watches, which meant they also had to wear a vest with pockets. However officers in the trenches, artillerists, pilots and submariners discovered that they needed a hands-free alternative and the wrist-watch was the solution. It caught on after the war. The leather jacket, emblem of Teen Rebels from the 1940's to today, was a product of the next war. Leather jackets were used by Pilots, Mechanics, Motorcycle Express Riders and Submariners as they were water-proof, wind-proof and stain resistant. They remained popular with motorcyclists afterwards and from there to teens in general becoming associated with Rockabilly and Doo-Wop. In fact the original motorcycle gangs were also a product of World War Two as the original members were dispatch riders, pilots and mechanics from the War blowing off steam. Later these weekend warriors would be followed by full time rock and roll rebels riding both cycles and hot-rods in the fifties and sixties. Later that impulse would filter down to skateboards and BMX's.

wild one opendin scene1


Of course hanging over everything is the influence of The Holocaust. There are all those artists, actors, filmmakers, musicians, composers and writers who had to flee Germany and occupied Europe, mostly to America. These artists vastly improved the culture of America and their leaving had a disastrous effect on the arts, music and especially film scenes in Germany. Names like Arnold Schoenberg, Fritz Lang, FW Murnau, Hans Richter, Conrad Veidt, Marlane Dietrich, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrain, Erich Maria Remarque have already been noted. Worse however is the list of those who did not escape and were instead killed by the Nazi's.

Self Portrait with Jewish Identity Card Felix N

Musicians & Composers;
German Jewish composer Heinz Alt was killed by the Nazi's as were composers Zikmund Schul, James Simon, Carlo Taube, Sigfried Translateur, Viktor Ullmann, Ernst Bachrich, Žiga Hirschler, Pavel Haas, Rudolf Karel, Gideon Klein, Hans Krása, Rafael Schächter, Erwin Schulhoff, Leo Smit, Viktor Ullmann, Lazlo Wiener, Marian Neuteich, Simon Pullman, Andrzej Włast, jazz musicians and arrangers Fritz Weiss, Szymon Kataszek, Artur Gold, libretist Fritz Lohner-Beda, violinist (and cousin of Gustav Mahler) Alma Rose, opera singers Richard Breitenfeld, Hans Erl, Henriette Gottlieb, Madga Spiegel, Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann, Erhard Wechselmann, Grete Forst, Juan Luria, choreographer Rod Riffler, Theodore Ritch, Polish/Yiddish composers David Beigelman, Zygmunt Białostocki, violinist Ludwik Holcman, Polish cantor Gershon Sirota (The Jewish Caruso), Polish folklorist Władysław Skierkowski.


185px Georg John

Kurt Gerron ("Diary Of A Lost Girl", "The Blue Angel", "People On Sunday", "The White Hell Of Pitz Palu", "Road To Rio"), actor Georg John ("Dr Mabuse", "Die Nibulngen", "The Last Laugh", "M"), Lisl Frank, Karel Hašler, Dora Gerson, Ernst Arndt, Christa Tordy, Anna Čalounová-Letenská, Cabaret comics Max Ehrlich and Fritz Grunbaum, Cabaret and film actor, singer and composer Willy Rosen, child actress Lea Deutsch, Dutch actor Coen Hissink, Dutch theater owner Abraham Icek Tuschinski, magician Ben Ali Libi, French Theatre and Ballet impresario Rene Blum, Franco/Rumanian actor/director Bernard Natan, Norwegian actor and director Henry Gleditsch, Polish actor Yitzchak Lowy, dancer Franceska Mann, Polish film pioneer Kazimierz Prószyński, Polish actor Igo Sym, Rumanian actress & opera singer Maria Forescu.


German/Jewish Art Nouveau and Art Deco sculptor Friedrich Adler, architect Alexander Beer, Cubist and Dada painter/sculptor Otto Freundlich, Post-Impressionist painter Rudolf Levy, Surrealist painters Felix Nussbaum and Peter Hammerschlag, Expressionist painters Charlotte Salomon, Natan Spigel, Art Nouveau painter Julie Wolfthorn, painter and illustrator Menachem Birnbaum, Bauhaus painter and designer Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, painters Tina Morpurgo, Malva Schalek, photographer Erich Salomon, architect Rudolf Wels, Imre Ámos, architect Harry Elte, Dutch graphic artist and mentor to MC Escher Samuel Jessurun de Mesquita , Polish painters Bronisław Czech, Stefan Filipkiewicz, Abraham Neumann, Jan Rubczak, Moshe Rynecki, Bruno Schulz, sculptor Henryk Hochman, Russian painter Abraham Berline


Theatre critic and historian Max Herrmann, Expressionist poet Jakob van Hoddis, novelist Fritz Reck-Malleczewen, poets Gertrud Kolmar, Ivan "Goran" Kovačić, Viktor Rosenzweig, Pavel Friedman, poet and playwright Moriz Seeler, children's author Else Ury, playwright and poet Else Feldmann, playwright and screenwriter Ida Jenbach, novelist Oscar Rosenfeld, Czech Sci-Fi writer and artist Josef Capek, Editor of Franz Kafka's works Camill Hoffmann, writer Milena Jesenská, poet and libretist Peter Kien, playwrights Paul Kornfeld, Josef Taussig, poets Ilse Weber, playwright Károly Pap, novelist and critic Antal Szerb, poet and critic Jan Campert, feminist writer Anna Sophia Polak, Dutch publisher Emanuel Querido, French Surrealist poets Max Jabob and Robert Desnos, Franco/Romanian surrealist poet, playwright and screenwriter Benjamin Fondane, novelist Irène Némirovsky French poet Sarah Gerau Powell, Polish poets Franciszka Arnsztajnowa, Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, Grażyna Chrostowska, Mordechai Gebirtig, Zuzanna Ginczanka, Józef Stefan Godlewski, Igor Korntayer, Debora Vogel, dramatist Itzhak Katzenelson, children's author Janusz Korczak, Polish critics Konstanty Troczyński, Kazimierz Zdziechowski, Slovenian writers Ivo Brnčić, Anica Černej, Avgust Pirjevec, Russian poet Maria Skobtsova,


No comments:

Post a Comment