1st volume, no. 19

Introduction to the content

In the first of the poems, Curt Bloch addresses the Crisis at the OWC. Neither he nor his readership have lately been satisfied with what has been published in recent editions of the Onderwater-Cabaret. He attributes the lack of originality to the lack of anything new and inspiring happening in the world. At the front, things don’t seem to be going well, Goebbels is just repeating old slogans, and the overall news is meager. He believes that his magazine reflects the events, and currently, there simply isn’t much going on. However, Bloch relies on his optimism and the belief that a “time of action” will come again soon. One just needs to have some patience.

Bloch relays that a newspaper article covered a spontaneous violin concert in a Berlin air raid shelter by the musician Siegfried Borries (1912–1980). The article claims that the captive audience was rapt, and paid the heavy air raids no mind due to the artistic prowess. Bloch mocks the report, wondering  which piece the famous violinist might have played: the “Fire Magic” (by Richard Wagner), the symphony with the kettle drums (The Surprise, by Joseph Haydn), or the hit song medley “Berlin wackelt” (Berlin shakes). Bloch suspects that the audience can forget the reality of murder and destruction in this convivial atmosphere, and are probably already looking forward to the next Shelter Concert.

Bloch’s song lyrics The Heat is Currently Turned Off in the Vatican refers to a brief news report from December 13th which claims that in solidarity with the Germans who are suffering a cold winter due to the coal shortage, Pope Pius XII (1876–1958) has not activated the central heating in his city-state because he refuses special treatment. Bloch jibes that the sub-zero temperatures also describes the now-cooled relations between Hitler and the Pope. God ignores the pope’s prayers for peace out of the Vatican either because “The Pope has done many things that did not particularly please Him.” Pius sought reconciliation with the dictators Hitler and Mussolini and refrained from criticism of the German Wehrmacht’s invasion of Poland, nor did he condemn the anti-Jewish laws. In this mocking song, Bloch’s tone feigns pity for poor Pope Pius sitting alone in the cold.