The Absence of Pride
As with the flag of the United States of America, the old national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” was quickly removed from American culture upon Secretary Butler’s rise in 1933.
However, unlike the flag, the national anthem wasn’t replaced as fast. In fact, there was no official national anthem for the USFRA from 1933 to 1936.
Inspired by the Nazis
In 1936, Butler and other high ranking USFRA officials attended the Summer Olympiad in Berlin at the invitation of Germany’s leader, Adolf Hitler. Immediately, the USFRA officials were amazed at the Nazi’s architecture and culture. To them, it evoked feelings of power and strength. In particular, Butler was fascinated with Germany’s national anthem, “Horst Wessel Lied,” also known as “The Flag On High” in English.
Butler loved the song so much that he requested a visit with Hitler to ask the Führer if the USFRA could adopt “Horst Wessel Lied” as the national anthem of the USFRA. To Butler’s surprise, Hitler enthusiastically gave Butler permission to use the song. One expert on Nazi Germany has claimed that the Führer’s positive relationship with Butler and the USFRA was the sole reason he allowed the USFRA to use his countries anthem.
Fun fact: Of all of the leaders of the faction of countries known as “The Fascist Bloc,” Hitler was said to have admired his relationship with Butler and the USFRA the most. While at first Hitler only cozied up to Butler so that he could eventually turn the USFRA into a puppet state of the Third Reich, he liked Butler in a genuine manner. Not surprisingly, this is something that cannot be said for Hitler’s relationships with other foreign dignitaries.
Upon returning to America, Butler commissioned American composer Henry Fillmore, who was known for his marches, to arrange a version of the German anthem in the style of early 20th Century American marches, like “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
William Faulkner penned the lyrics by request of the state. Initially, Faulkner refused to write the lyrics as a protest against the fascist government. However, a less than pleasant visit by the USFRA secret police suddenly convinced Faulkner to have a change of heart and pen a poem to be used as lyrics to the new national anthem.
The new anthem was named “The People March On!” and was adopted as the official national anthem of the USFRA on November 9th, 1936.
Be The First To Listen!
Below, you can listen to an instrumental version of the anthem by the USFRA Military Band. This was recorded in 1951 and digitally converted from a vinyl record. I am not sure if it is the earliest recording of the song, but it is the earliest dated version from the archives.
There are a few other recordings of the anthem included in the archives, including a very bizarre interpretation that features heavy synthesizers. Unfortunately, they are undated and the Library of Congress cannot verify the date of the recordings.
Fun fact: Faulkner’s original lyrics survived throughout the entirety of USFRA’s reign and were included in the data archive I received. One observation: The ink seems to have faded much slower than similarly dated documents.
See the lyrics to the USFRA’s National Anthem, as it was originally written…
TO BE CONTINUED…
In my next post, I will post an analysis of the songs’s lyrics. I will also continue to tell the story behind “The People March On!” including government protocols about the song, what civilians did when it was played, etc.