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The Shadow of the Swastika (1940) - Australian reviews

A. L. Lloyd spent six years in Australia between 1924 and 1930, working as a station hand in NSW. When he returned to England he took with him an interest in the songs he learned from shearers and other bush workers. His career as a folklorist is well known but he also became an early documentary radio program maker and broadcaster with the BBC. One of his most famous programs "The Shadow of the Swastika" was broadcast as the Second World War began. Through the BBC overseas service the program was broadcast in Australia and other countries across the world.

Maryborough Chronicle, Thursday 9 November 1939 p. 8.
"The Shadow of the Swastika"
LONDON, November 7.-- The BBC will inaugurate a new series of
programmes, entitled "The Shadow of the Swastika." tracing the
history the Nazi Party. They include recordings of hundreds
of speeches by Herr Hitler and the Nazi leaders.
They will be broadcast for the first time at 9.15 p.m. on Friday.
The Home service will start at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday. A recorded
version will be broadcast to Empire countries.

The book that was based on the radio program was published in 1940 and was on sale in Australia. In a sense it was Lloyd's first return to Australia, although his earlier time in the bush was unknown to the book's reviewers.

The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 21 September 1940


"The Shadow of the Swastika," by A. L. Lloyd and Igor Vinogradoff. John Lane, the Bodley Head.

It was estimated by the B.B.C. that 12,000,000 people listened to this radio drama of the story of the German National Socialist Party when it was produced in six parts during November and December of last year and January of this. Perhaps not all of this interest is due to the merit of the script and the production, but the two authors seem to have developed the radio chronicle-play, based on considerable research, to a high pitch, and a numerous cast, which included a Goring to play Hitler, must have given it all the scope it needed. A narrator holds the scenes together, utters comment and even direct warning to the principal character. The first scene is in August, 1914, with Germany going to war; the last shows the same situation In September, 1939. In between move and speak all the important personages of that time-except Chamberlain. Indeed, the only English character is Sir Nevile Henderson. Excitement is maintained at such a pitch that the main Incidents in the rise of the Nazis do not emerge in the reading quite so clearly as they might, but altogether the play forms an effective compression of fateful years of history and gives a strong picture of German life and strife.
A word must be said for the grim "photo-montages" by G R Morris. These achieve, more vividly, a similar work of compression and suggestion.

The West Australian Saturday 21 September 1940


"The Shadow of the Swastika" by A. L. Lloyd and Igor Vinogradof, London: John Lane, 5/-. From the publisher.

"THE Shadow of the Swastika" is the script of the British Broadcasting Corporation's most memorable venture in radio drama. An introduction by the authors recites the circumstances under which the work was undertaken and the measures that were adopted by them in association with the B.B.C. to ensure that their work would faithfully portray the German scene from the end of the world war of 1914-18 to the Polish invasion. This play which reads like a Greek tragedy was presented to British listeners in eight programmes by a cast of 60 characters. Some doubt was entertained at the outset as to the acceptability of this dramatisation of recent German his tory but according to the B.B.C. interest in it never once flagged but actually became keener as the drama in which Adolf Hitler is the central figure is unfolded. The Fuehrer is never for long off the stage where he exhibits himself and is exhibited by his satellites as the Mephistopheles of the play. This historical drama is the story of the Nazi movement and of the life of the man who has so diabolically in spired it with his world-wrecking philosophy. The essentially different condi- tions governing the legitimate stage and that of the radio, suggest that the B.B.C. script of "The Shadow of the Swastika" would need to undergo substantial revision before it could be successfully adapted for presentation by any other medium. Here, however, is material enough for a dozen stage dramas, not the least sensational of which would be one revolving round the Reichstag fire and the famous trial.

The Mail (Adelaide) Saturday 28 September 1940

Impressive Radio Drama

"Shadow of the Swastika," by A. L. Lloyd and Igor Vinogradoff (John Lane, The Bodley Head, London). Our copy from the publishers.

THIS is the book of the play which was broadcast in eight parts and an epilogue by the B.B.C. in the first six months of the war.

The script is condensed to six parts in the book. With the greatest respect to L. Du Garde Peach, and other masters of the craft of writing for radio, it may well be contended that this is the best radio drama--using "drama" in its correct, and not its loose sense--yet achieved. Admittedly there was strong material available, for the play tells of the rise to power of Hitler and his party. However much we detest Nazidom and all that it means, there is no doubt that the course of the party has been rich in dramatic incident--much of it horrible, but terribly vivid and ironic. By voice, music, and sound effects this play must stand or fail in their interesting preface the authors go to considerable pains to emphasise that without the tempo and variation of the actors' voices, the sound effects, and the musical score, the success of the play cannot be judged. This is obvious, but little or no imagination is needed to realise how successful "Shadow of the Swastika" must have been. The authors strove for strict accuracy of fact, and, as far as one can know, achieved it But they showed extraordinary skill in choosing incidents which were most im- pressive dramatically and which also carried on the story. The dialogue of the story is terse, simple, and, whenever possible, usually colloquial. To get the necessary contrasts. Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels are given typical ranting speeches--or, at least. bits of speeches. Time was limited. Eight photo-montages by G. R. Morris illustrate the book.

The Examiner (Launceston) Monday 30 September 1940


"Shadow of the Swastika," by A. L. Lloyd and Igor Vinogradoff, official B.B.C. version (the Bodley Head). This publication is volume form of the original B.B.C. script specially edited and with an introduction by the authors of the celebrated "The Shadow of the Swastika," is an outstanding historic event. During the difficult first six months of the war, one programme series alone seized the opportunity offered and riveted the attention of the population of Great Britain as never before--the astounding and yet authentic story of the German Nazi party and its leader, Adolf Hitler, re enacted in thrilling dramatic form. Here, then, is the B.B.C.'s greatest and most historic broadcast triumph in permanent form. living pages of his tory which posterity will assuredly wish to assess. The Listener Research Department of the B.B.C. has calculat- ed that more than one in three of our adult population--some 12,000,000 people--listened to the series, the greatest audience ever secured by any one feature-series. In their special introduction the authors reveal how the programme actually came into being: how they worked at great speed, consulting masses of original documents, both published and unpublished, taking the greatest possible care to ensure com plete accuracy--a lonely outpost in the almost wholly evacuated Broadcast ing House. And with proper pride they suggest that what was essentially to be a large-scale propaganda programme became pure drama: the story of the man and forces which chose to plunge Europe into war.

The Mercury (Hobart) Saturday 19 October 1940

Books Of The Week
By "Scribe"

THERE is a genuine dramatic treat in store for anyone who reads "Shadow of the Swastika." by A. L. Lloyd and Igor Vinogradoff
(John Lane, the Bodley Head, London; 6/-).

It is not a novel, nor is it Action, but a dramatised version of the rise of Adolf Hitler. Presented as a radio play, this work was first launched by the British Broadcasting Corporation as a series of dramatic incidents. The script has been carefully edited and put into a form which makes it splendid reading. lt is interpretative of the era which has produced dictators; it is explanatory of much that needed explaining in the evolution of

Hitler from obscurity to his present position; it is something of a warning to those who look round and ask: "Can we not find one man to lead us and get rid of these parliaments?"; it is the lesson of the ages to men and women who believe that a single individual can ever rule millions justly or who think that in the reek of supreme power he will not become either inhuman or sub-human. The authors have written an introduction to the book giving a sketch of the manner in which they worked to broadcast the series. The cast contains the names of all the most notorious leaders in Naziland-Goering, Goebbels, Ribbentrop, Hindenburg, von Papen, Rohm--also many others outside the party, and again such names as Sir Neville Henderson, Dollfuss, Schuschnigg, and others. Among the incidents are the Reichstag fire, and the various events that led up to and made war certain. A narrator covers such introductory passages as are required, to make plain what follows. This is essential in many radio plays, and, indeed, the old prologue seems certain to come into his own if only because on the air it is impossible to convey accurately varying lapses of time, and often impossible to present a scene without some kind of explanatory preface to it. All this the authors have done with fine skill, and the result is a book that for intense dramatic power is one of the strongest I have read. But it is much more than that. It is a record of one of the most as- tonishing events in history which gave into the hands of an ignorant, illiterate man the might of a great nation to distort it, abuse it, and wreck it as he willed. This is a book that makes history live.

The Argus Saturday 2 November 1940

Shadow of the Swastika

SHADOW OF THE SWASTIKA, by A. L. LLOYD and IGOR VINOGRADOFF (London: John Lane, the Bodley Head); 6/- net.

The history of the Nazi party and of its leader, Adolf Hitler, has been told many times-perhaps too many times but never before to my knowledge has it been told fully in the crisp dialogue and allied "effects" of a radio play. It has been done now, and done remarkably well, by two writers of the B.B.C. in "Shadow of the Swastika," claimed to be "the first radio-dramatisation of contemporary history ever broadcast in Great Britain." The authors were A. L. Lloyd and Igor Vlnogradoff. The play was heard by 12,000,000 listeners, and the script is now published in book form. Australians have not had the opportunity of hearing the play broadcast--it would have done much to counterbalance the spate of trashy radio plays that Australian listeners can always find at a flick of the dial--but the reading of the play can be recommended as the next best thing. All the dramatic effects of the radio theatre are employed--sequences of events dramatised by brief commentary, special sound and "atmospheric effects," snatches of symbolic, almost surrealistic dialogue but behind all these lies a painstaking and accurate task of compiling for the first time a true, readable, and "popular" history of Hitler and the Nazis. It begins in 1914, marches on to 1918, and the mutiny at Kiel, the return of the German Army, disillusionment, poverty, hunger, unemployment, breeding ground for factions and ideologies, the birth of a new phenomenon named Adolf Hitler, who was to throw his threatening shadow across all the world. ... It ends with a conversation between Hitler and Sir Nevile Henderson.
HITLER: I am not bluffing. People are making a great mistake if they think I am!
HENDERSON: I am aware of that, Herr Hitler. But we are not bluffing, either! Written as a large-scale propaganda programme, this play became real drama. It is well worth reading.
The eight photo-montages used as illustrations are extraordinarily good.--G.H.J.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory