“Das ist die Broadway Melodie”
: American cultural motifs in German music film 1929 – 1945

  • Judith Wiemers

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis analyses American cultural motifs in German music films in the years 1929 – 1945 and focuses on generic trends that bridged the political caesura of the year 1933 as the end of Germany’s first democracy and the beginning of the dictatorial rule of Adolf Hitler and the Nationalist Socialist party. Early manifestations of a process labelled “Cultural Americanisation” in Germany during the Weimar Republic had a lasting impact on music film production from 1929. One of the strongest factors with great influence on the cultural landscape of the Weimar Republic was jazz, which exceeded its meaning as a musical genre by far and was both heralded and despised as a symbol of modernity. Popular stage genres, such as revue and operetta also absorbed American trends and subsequently influenced generic developments in German music film significantly. When inaugurating the genre of Tonfilmoperette (sound film operetta), German producers, directors and composers looked to Hollywood for inspiration. From its very beginning, German music film was not only perceived in many respects as a reaction to its American counterpart, but continued for several decades to be measured against productions from Hollywood studios. By the time the Nazi regime came into government, musical and visual motifs, as well as themes and dramaturgical concepts associated with American culture and film had been firmly established in German music film. A comparative analysis of German films of both the Weimar Republic and the Nazi era, and American productions of the same periods, explores the multifaceted ways in which the American influence continued to flourish in popular German cinema against the backdrop of heightened political tensions and the conflicted cultural politics of the Nazi regime.
Date of AwardJul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsArts & Humanities Research Council
SupervisorSarah McCleave (Supervisor) & David Robb (Supervisor)


  • Film musical
  • operetta
  • German film
  • Weimar Republic
  • national socialism
  • musical

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