|Stalin and Suzie Klein|
Recommendation time: Tunes for Tyrants: Music and Power with Suzy Klein on BBC Four has been superb.
It's a sweeping three-part series that looks at the uses and abuses of music by the Nazis and the Soviets, and its uses by their democratic opponents.
It raises some thought-provoking questions about music and morality.
One section from the final episode taught me something that I had absolutely no idea about: that some in authority thought that Vera Lynn and her songs weren't helping the war effort, especially following the loss of Singapore and the set-backs in North Africa in 1942.
Questions were raised in Parliament to that effect and the BBC, in response, set up the Dance Music Policy Committee to police the Forces' Sweetheart and her sort of music.
Their ruling was that performances by women singers would be controlled and an "insincere and over-sentimental style" would not be allowed. "No numbers will be accepted for broadcasting which are slushy in sentiment", the BBC said.
So Vera Lynn's radio show Sincerely Yours got taken off the BBC's airwaves and jolly, upbeat music programmes which emphasised a collective spirit, such as Music While You Work and Workers' Playtime, became the order of the day instead.
That policy failed, however, as Vera was far too popular and struck back in 1943 with a film called We'll Meet Again. whose roaring success convinced the authorities that she was actually a clear morale-booster after all and, in fact, just the ticket for civilians and soldiers alike.
Weirder still, the Nazis created their own answer to Vera Lynn, Zarah Leander - except that (being Nazis) she was far from 'the girl next door' type. She was 'the statuesque Teutonic goddess next door' type instead.
In the smash film The Great Love her sentimental songs wowed the German public, and she sang surrounded by angels who were SS guards in drag (with the cameras keeping them at a considerable distance).
Well, fancy that!