There's a scene in the classic film Casablanca when Résistance fighter Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) tells the musicians in Rick's Cafe to play La Marseillaise after Major Strasser leds a group of Nazi soldiers in a rendition of "Die Wacht am Rhein" (Watch on the Rhine), a German nationalist song. It's a powerful message about the stirring emotions music brings out in all of us--especially when freedom is at stake.
Interesting, but a similar incident happened two days after the Germans marched into Paris on June 14, 1940 in a restaurant in Montmartre called La Crémaillère. (Who can forget Rick's words to Ilsa in Casablanca when he says, "The Germans wore gray, you wore blue…")
An Englishman ordered a drink at the bar in this classic restaurant built in the early 1900s for himself and his companion, an American lady. She noticed a piano in the corner and started playing God Save the King to bolster the courage of her British friend.
The Nazis immediately told her it was verboten.
"America is not at war with Germany," she said calmly and continued playing. The Germans were perplexed and angry until she explained to them that she was playing an American song called "My Country 'tis of Thee."
Same tune, different words, but the power of playing the song in defiance remains. According to eyewitness reports, the Germans apologized, bowed, clicked their heels and left.
Let us not forget on this Veterans' Day all the brave soldiers, both military and civilian, who have dared to stand up against tyranny.
As the heroine in my World War II novel, Cleopatra's Perfume, Lady Eve Marlowe says, "I survived, dear reader, angry and filled with the passion to save lives and end this terrible war. The obsession that was never far from my mind comes sharply into focus. Now I will use that passion against them. The Nazis. The urge to be part of the machine to defeat the enemy is irresistible to me."
Extra: Here is the black and white trailer I made for Cleopatra's Perfume:
February 2010: meet The Blonde Samurai
“She embraced the way of the warrior. Two swords. Two loves.”