The old show-tune Edelweiss was getting fresh attention on Twitter on Thursday, after a New York Post reporter tweeted that it was playing inside the White House as reporters arrived for William Barr’s press conference in the morning. Hours after the end of the press conference, a debate was still raging over whether the song is a “Nazi anthem.”
For the record, no, Edelweiss is not a Nazi anthem. The song was written by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1959 for the musical “The Sound of Music.” The musical’s romantic lead, Captain von Trapp, plays the song for his family as they prepare to leave their homeland, Austria. In fact, the song could be perceived as an anti-Nazi song. Captain von Trapp has made the decision to leave his beloved country because he does not want to join the Nazis. His decision to leave home is a risky, but idealistic choice which represents his opposition to the Nazis. Playbill, writing about The Sound of Music, said that “edelweiss” represented “the indomitable spirit of the Austrians under Nazi control.”
Edelweiss owes its name to the little white flowers, called “edelweiss,” which grow in Austria’s mountains. The flowers also grow in other countries in the region. The edelweiss is often referred to as a beloved national symbol of Austria.
Edelweiss Is Also the Theme Song of ‘The Man in the High Castle’
The song “edelweiss” plays at the beginning and the end of the Amazon TV series “The Man in the High Castle.” That show, which first aired in 2015, tells the story of an imaginary, alternative world in which the Nazis won World War Two. The show imagines what the world would be like if Japan and Germany — the Axis powers in World War Two — ruled the United States today. It tells the story of dissidents fighting against the Axis powers, their successes and their failures.
The version of “edelweiss” in “The Man in the High Castle” is performed by the Swedish singer Jeanette Olsson; her heavy accent and breathy performance can make it difficult to understand the words. the song, which is the show’s theme, plays as the camera pans over images of American landmarks like Mount Rushmore, the Statue of Liberty, and the Manhattan skyline. The version of the song that play in “The Man in the High Castle” also makes some small, but striking changes to the original Rodgers and Hammerstein lyrics. Here are the original lyrics of the song:
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.
Blossom of snow, may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Bless my homeland forever.
The Marine Corps Went on to Play Other Songs from the Sound of Music on Thursday Morning
As confusion over “Edelweiss” continued on Twitter, the same New York Post reporter who’d reported on the song playing added another key fact. After playing “Edelweiss,” the Marine Corps band went on to play “The Sound of Music,” another song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that features “Edelweiss.” The reporter also noted that it’s not clear exactly who decided what songs the Marine band should play that morning.
One Twitter user suggested that playing “Edelweiss” on Thursday morning was somebody’s way of “trolling” the Attorney General, since the song is about political dissent and standing up to power. That user wrote, “It’s about political dissent, moron. The AG got trolled by whoever ran the sound before the press conference.”