neil perry - swing kids - (robert leonard)

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Swing Kids

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  • Review
  • TAG : SWING KIDS, Robert Sean Leonard (center), 1993
  • We must remember the age of most Swing Kids was between 12 and 16or 17,. along with younger subteen and older adolescent/young person interest. The timeless characteristic of youth in this age category is one of experimentationand defiance of social convention. German youngsters living in NaziGermany were blissfully unaware that their rebel-prone nature might landthem in concentration camps. They only knew the eternal outlook ofyouth, “no risk, no fun”.

    For more detail about the German Swing Kids, you may want to readthe English version of Michael Kater's book, Different Drummer — Jazz inthe Culture of Nazi Germany. Although the Swingstyle Syndicate doesnot endorse this book as being completely correct, it will provide a goodstart to learning about this phenomena in Hitler’s Germany. We mustwarn you, however, that Michael Kator is wrong in his premise that Europeanmusicians could not play Swing. The Swing Syndicate believes that Germanscould play and dance Swing very well, but they did it to their own uniqueand wonderful beat. Swing is for everyone to enjoy!

  • Another problem with the movie is that it politicized the Swing Kidlifestyle. As the above discussion of German Swing Youth demonstrates,the real Swing Kids were politically quite unsophisticated. The NaziAuthorities may have branded their movement “The Swing Youth Problem”,but it fell far short of active resistance. The Swing Kids actuallycared little for contesting official policies toward Jews or other matters. They just wanted to have fun at a dark time in their country’s history,and avoid the war if possible.

    "Swing Kids" involves a very small footnote to a very large historical event. In Nazi Germany in 1939, we learn, while Hitler was rounding up Jews and launching World War II, a small group of kids wore their hair long and danced to the swing music of such banned musicians as Benny Goodman and Count Basie. Occasionally they got into fights with the brownshirts of the Hitler Youth brigades.

  • Still, I have a question: Why on earth was Swing Kids made? It’s doubtful a picture like this one could hold out much commercial appeal for young moviegoers. Raised on pop nihilism, fashion, and the eternal cult of the now, most of them feel at a crucial remove from such antique phenomena as swing dancing and, you know, World War II. As for anyone older, the movie, okay as it is, will seem too derivative to be very exciting. At this point, you’d have to put a far more audacious spin on the Nazi era to create a drama that could honestly be described as eye-opening. B-

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This encouraged the youth to further their political consciousness and opposition to National Socialism. They started to distribute anti-fascist propaganda. In January 1943, Günter Discher, as one of the ringleaders of the Swing Kids, was deported to the youth concentration camp of .