Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces’ Propaganda Broadcasts

gmiller1The Marr Sound Archives holds two albums from the uncommon broadcast recordings of Major Glenn Miller and the American Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces. These two albums are compilations of recordings over the American Broadcasting Station in Europe, EMI Studio, St. John’s Wood, Abbey Road, London England and are simply titled “Major Glenn Miller and the A.E.F. Orchestra.”

Miller was fulfilling a request by the Office of War Information to broadcast the orchestra’s performance under his direction to the German military and German prisoners of war. The propaganda broadcasts were intended to show Germans that the Allies wanted inclusion of all countries in the quest for peace and that American music and life among the Allies was lively, lovely, and upbeat.


Glenn Miller and “Ilse Weinberger” at an ABSIE microphone, London, England, 30 October, 1944. Photo courtesy: The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band: I Sustain the Wings: Volumes 1 and 2 by Edward F. Polic.

German “Ilse Weinberger” serves as announcer with Glenn Miller, at times, answering her in pretty bad German, but mostly speaking in English between the performances of 13 works. It is also significant that the A.E.F. Orchestra performs the “Song of the Volga Boatmen” in order to drive home the point that the Russians are now allied with America and Europe against the Germans.

According to Glenn Miller experts, these two LP’s were bootlegged by Joseph Krug of the Colony Record Shop in New York City when doing business as the A.F.N. Record Company around 1949. His efforts were quickly shut down by the Miller estate. The details of the case can be found here.

The A.F.N. was intentionally meant to confuse the patron into thinking that the Air Force Network had published these. Even though few of these albums exist, Marr has had one copy of each of the two volumes gifted to their collection.

These recordings of Glenn Miller’s cooperation with the propaganda offices of Allied Forces during WWII are hard to come by but worth the listen. Unfortunately, Glenn Miller died 39 days after the recording of these broadcasts and therefore makes them precious items.

These particular broadcasts were recorded October 30th and November 6th, 1944 and aired November 8th and November 15th respectively. There isn’t much remarked on the containers about the band except that Sergeant Johnny Desmond and Sergeant Ray McKinley sing solos on “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby” (McKinley) and “Now I Know” and “My Heart Tells Me” (Desmond).

Although the band members are not listed on the albums’ containers, a resource in the Marr Sound Archives entitled “The Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band: I Sustain the Wings: Volumes 1 and 2” by Edward F. Polic clearly lays out who played in the orchestra at the time of these broadcasts. These reference resource books are exciting because of their details of discographies, scripts, personnel, and Glenn Miller’s life.

Contributed by Vicki Kirby, Library Information Specialist II and Special Formats Cataloger

Visual Rhetoric Analysis in WWII Propaganda

Deliver us from evilCountless times each day we are bombarded by visual rhetoric, the use of images to influence or persuade an audience. The persuasive element of visual rhetoric lies in its ability to instantly connect with our emotional mind before the rational part of the brain is signaled. Using an example of World War II propaganda from UMKC LaBudde Special Collections I will demonstrate the mechanics and effectiveness of visual rhetoric while expanding understanding of how images influence people.

Visual rhetoric techniques make use of the appeal of pathos, a form of persuasion appealing to an individual’s emotions – rather than their rational mind – therefore having greater persuasive influence (“The Forest of Rhetoric”1). Although it might seem hard to believe that humans can be influenced subconsciously, it can be explained by the observations of neurobiology researchers Joseph LeDoux and Antonio Damasio. They suggest that when the eye observes a visual image, a signal is sent to the cortex, the part of the brain that houses rational thought (Damasio). But before the sensory signal is sent there, another signal is first sent to the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes emotions and memory (LeDoux). Thus, the amygdala creates an emotional response before the mind can fully perceive an image. This circumvention of reason and provocation of emotional response is the goal of visual rhetoric elicit.

In the next section I will analyze an example of World War II propaganda and explain the techniques used in the image. Upon looking at the poster, “Deliver us from evil,”2 emotions of dread and fear are conveyed to the viewer. There is also a strong desire to help the child in the center and a loathing felt towards the enemy. But why?

The first aspect that conveys these emotions is the color scheme. The black and white image expresses a sense of negativity and despair because there are no bright colors that normally illustrate happy moods. Even the blue font reading “Buy War Bonds” is muted and doesn’t stand out, compelling the viewer to focus on the girl rather than the intended response of promoting war bond purchasing in a more natural, less contrived way. The quote at the top of the poster, “Deliver us from evil,” is an excerpt from the Lord’s Prayer, something that most onlookers would be able to recognize because at the time the majority of Americans were Christians. This quote emphasizes a sense of desperation because prayers are commonly associated with a time of great need and obstacles to be overcome. It also acts as a call to arms for the American population to rise up and fight off the “evil” (Deliver us from evil). The word “evil” obviously refers to Nazi Germany, symbolized by the swastika in the center of the poster, surrounding a frightened girl. The poster also associates the word “us” with the young girl in the center, asking the viewer to save her and girls like her. Looking at the child communicates a feeling of empathy and suffering because her hair is disheveled, her eyes are tearing up, and her clothing is worn and dirty. The use of a young girl is also a key factor in this example of visual persuasion intended to demonize the enemy. The girl is a symbol of innocence and purity that, in the context of the image, is in danger of being corrupted and harmed by the Nazi government. This imparts a sense of protection on the viewer to defend the child, and creates a negative impression of the German government. Thus, it becomes assumed that the enemy is wrong and therefore we, Americans, are in the right. All of these factors are linked with the hardship and pain which the viewer is able to identify easily.

Returning to the connection between the word “evil” and Nazi Germany, this link is made for two reasons: the matching colors of the word and swastika and the placement of the symbol surrounding the little girl. In the poster, white is the brightest color and since both the word “evil” and the swastika are both the same shade of white the eye recognizes this and the mind instantly associates one with the other in the context of the image. As for the position of the swastika, it looks as if it is trapping the little girl and is therefore responsible for the hardship and agony that the girl is experiencing.

The combined effects of associating the word “evil” from the Lord’s Prayer with the swastika causes the viewer to associate Germany and Nazis with negative images. This leads civilians to dislike and even hate the Allied enemies and subsequently generate a sense of duty to support for the war effort with the hope that children similar to the one in the poster are protected. Underlying all of these emotions is the subtle message of the poster “Buy War Bonds” (Deliver us from evil). This is intended to be the overall reaction to viewing the propaganda, and although it is not overly emphasized, there is no room left for questioning the message or an alternative option. It’s a firm, declarative statement with the unsaid “or else” that implies that the child in the poster will suffer if not followed.

Visual rhetoric is a persistent influence on our lives every day and is a powerful force in shaping our biases and perceptions. Being able to recognize patterns of visual persuasion and decipher how certain themes evoke certain responses will enable scholars to be more effective at communicating with the general public. Increasing public understanding of visual rhetoric will not only increase the awareness of the many influences people encounter daily. It will also lead to more logical and unbiased decisions made due to people recognizing the media’s and interest groups propaganda efforts and therefore rationalizing the issue instead of letting emotion control one’s actions.

Contributed by Alex Poppen (for English H225)

1“The Forest of Rhetoric.” Silva Rhetoricae. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.
2“Deliver us from evil.” WWII Poster Collection. Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections, Miller Nichols Library, University of Missouri–Kansas City, Kansas City, MO.

“The Nazis must have loved children– they stole so many of them.”

2011-11-14_Nazis_Goldin_elevenAllan Sloane knew the shock and venom of this statement when he wrote it into his documentary Eleven Memory Street (1950). This piece of creative radio journalism tells the story of a girl who was a victim of a seditious Nazi program. Lebensborn, or Fount of Life, was a program meant to purify the German race by encouraging Aryan breeding. The program which provided care for racially acceptable mothers and their children is also associated with the planned kidnapping and relocation of thousands of Polish children. These children were chosen for their racial traits for the purpose of Germanization.

Yovinna Solyska, was one of those children, and starting with a letter from her mother (whose return address became the title of the radio play), Eleven Memory Street traces a detective hunt by a team of U.N. workers to reunite the mother and daughter. Allan Sloane, a reporter for the U.N., traced the development of the case with a microphone, and mixed the audio with his poignant narration.  The result is a powerful documentary.

The United Nations, since its beginning, has used the medium of radio as one of its ways to inform the world of its aims and activities. And Eleven Memory Street is a prime example of why. Article 1 of the U.N. Charter states that one of the purposes of the U.N. is “To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character.” At one point in the investigation, Sloane stopped to consider the significance of what he was involved with. He recounts, “Something began to dawn on me. This is the United Nations really at work. A British bureau chief, working with a Danish assistant to find a Polish child who might be in Czechoslovakia and an American reporter standing by.”

Marr Sound Archives is now a wealth of information on U.N. historical radio. The J. David Goldin Collection includes over 400 episodes of “The United Nations Today,” a program of radio reports, interviews, and sound clips by the U.N. The collection has over sixty episodes of “U.N. Story,” a dramatic series. There is also a large collection of special documentaries similar to the one discussed here.

Eleven Memory Street stands out among these radio documents. It is an important experiment in international journalism and documentary making. And it shows the ugliest result of war. The children, the innocent, are lumped into the statistics of casualties and missing people. This story shows how much cooperation and energy it takes to change one of these statistics by a barely noticeable amount – and how much it is worth it.

For an introduction to U.N. Radio on the web check out the U.N. Radio Classics archive.

Troy Cummings, guest contributor