Jewish music once hand political meaning; the first Germans to sing Yiddish songs in the 1960s were young leftist who were disillusioned with the older generations´s silcence about the Holocaust. Anything that broached the topic of Judaism in post-war Germany then was taboo; to hear the sounds of amurdered Eastern European culture resurrected on German stages was truly a shock. "Each Yiddish song was potentially a provocation to our fathers´ generation, was a political demonstration", writes the musicolgist Wolfgang Martin Stroh, who was present at some of the early performances. And there were other political messages, too; in the 1970s, for example, East germans used the genre to blow a raspberry at their Communist government, which was anti-Zionist.
The 1960s were a time of social upheaval the world over, and Germany was no exception. The children of the 1940s were now old enough to wonder what had happened during the war, and they were not getting many answers from their parents. Though American hippies were able to turn to their own history for ideals of labour and egalitarianism, Germans had no such luxury. Much of their history was tainted by association; the Nazis had appropriated swathes of German culture for their own purposes.
German folksongs were especially suspect. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the Volkslied was used to stitch together the patchwork principalities and duchies that formed the new German nation. As with other newly-formed nations and nationalities in nineteenth-centruy Europe, belief in a common mythology helped unify people. Previously disparate groups were brought together with tales of a shared heritage. German folk song was thus inextricably bound up with nationalism, and nationalism had a nasty aftertaste after the Second World War. "Ever since folk songs were taken over by the Nazis... few Germans have been able to sing them with a clean conscience", musicians Hein and Oss Kröher wrote in 1969. If the German folk song was verboten to the younger generation, they would need to take their cues form other tradtions, and they did. Judaism was one of those traditions. The culture of the victims was not tainted by association with the Nazis. Yiddish was somewaht understandable to the German ear. And besides, Yiddish was fun to sing.
One of the most important early interpreters of jewish music in Germany was Peter Rohland. Here´s his EP "Der Rebbe zingt" from 1963.
01. Un as der Rebbe zingt
02. Fahr jich mir arois
03. Bei mein Rebben iz gewesen
04. Du Maydele, du fayns
05. Shtil die Nacht iz oysgesh
Peter Rohland - Der Rebbe zingt - Jiddische Volkslieder und Chansons - Peter Rohland und Ensemble (EP, Thorofon, 1963)
(192 kbps, cover art included)
Thanks to http://schnickschnackmixmax.blogspot.de for the original upload.