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Miles Kington explores jazz in wartime Paris.

Tuesday 22 April 2003, 1.30pm

How did the gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt survive the Nazi occupation of Paris, whilst half a million other gypsies were taken away and killed?

A German Officer with Django
A gypsy (Django) four negroes and a Jew alongside a German officer outside La Cigale in occupied Paris.
Photo by Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Dietrich Schulz-Koehn

During Hitler's third Reich things 'un-German' were denounced, and, often, liquidated. Naturally, Django Reinhardt, a Belgian born gypsy and a great jazz player, should be at the top of any Nazi list for deportation. Yet when war broke out in 1939 Django, touring in London with Stephane Grappelli, immediately returned home to Paris. He not only survived the war, he thrived and became a star. And it wasn't just the French that came to La Cigale to hear him, the Nazis came too.

Miles Kington explores the curiosity of jazz thriving under Goebbels and of Django's unusual life with contributions from Bert Weedon, Coleridge Goode, Mike Zwerin and Stephane Grappelli plus music by Jean Sablon, Guerino, Coleridge Goode and Django himself.

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Mike Zwerin's book Swing Under the Nazis: Jazz as a Metaphor for Freedom is published by Cooper Square Press, ISBN: 0815410751
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