Bing Crosby Goes to Work on Wehrmacht With Assistance of Phonetic German
By ROBERT MUSEL
LONDON, Sept. 3, 1944 (UP)—While Hitler is fooling around with buzzbombs and pick-a-back planes we're hurling a real secret weapon at Germany—der Bingle.
Der Bingle is what the Germans call it. Back home it's Bing Crosby.
From a position dangerously near its launching platform (a grand piano in the studio of the American Broadcasting system in Europe) I watched der Bingle go to work on the Wehrmacht. It was beautiful to see and hear and experts of psychological warfare said its effect would be beautiful too.
Der Bingle took off first in a snappy chat to the Wehrmacht which, the most powerful transmitters in Europe will smash right at the quivering ears of Hitler's "Herrenvolk." He astounded frontline observers by using reasonably good German. Since he doesn't speak German, der Bingle was later asked how come.
"I don't do it with mirrors," he said. "I do it with phonetics."
Der Bingle is a great favorite with the Germans and the gents from psychological warfare conceived the idea of having him do a little something direct, for the staggering Wehrmacht which probably doesn't appreciate what Generals Bradley and Patton are doing to it.
Thus, as Bing stepped to the microphone to make a recording, there was a mental image in my mind of a harried Hun, gasping and breathless and resting by the roadside ready to listen to anything as a change from the shell spitting tanks of his pursuers.
Bing, consulting his phonetic chart, began:
"Hello, German soldiers. Here speaks Bing Crosby. I've just arrived from America—the country where nobody is afraid of the gestapo and where everybody has a right to say and write what he thinks."
Der Bingle, rippling through the Teutonic gutturals with complete ease, told the Germans about constitutional rights, adding, "I sincerely hope that our rights and our freedoms soon will be observed again in your country. That's what we Americans are fighting for."
Letting this sink in for a brief instant, der Bingle signalled Corp. Jack Russian, pianist of Major Glenn Miller's band, and said: "But I didn't come here to preach. I came here to sing a few songs."
Bing then sang a song from a film in which he starred, except that the lyrics were cleverly twisted so that the sense of the song was really: "Come with me out of that nasty Hitlerland and back to the free world."
After that, because many Europeans such as forced laborers in Germany understand French, Bing did a song in that language. His phonetic French was not bad either.
A typist passing by asked what was going on inside the studio. "Bing Crosby is singing to the Nazis," she was told.
Increduously, the typist exclaimed: "To the Nazis! What kind of punishment is that?"