Hitler Has Only Got One Ball

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"Hitler Has Only Got One Ball"
Oral tradition
Music by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts
(Colonel Bogey March)
Lyrics by uncertain; attributed to Toby O'Brien
Written c. August 1939
Language English
Form Propaganda song

"Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" is a British song that mocks Nazi leaders using blue comedy in reference to their testicles. Multiple variants of the lyrics exist, generally sung as four-line verses to the tune of the "Colonel Bogey March".

Origin of the song[edit]

In his autobiography Fringe Benefits, writer Donough O'Brien says his father, Toby O'Brien, wrote the original in August 1939 as British propaganda[citation needed]. Toby O'Brien was a publicist for the British Council at the time. This version started with the words "Göring has only got one ball", and went on to imply that Hitler had two small ones. In virtually all later versions, the positions are reversed. The statement that Himmler was "sim'lar" appears in all versions. The final line of this original and some later forms ends with the word play that Goebbels had "no balls". Both these variations argue strongly in favour of O'Brien's version's being a very early version, and a Daily Mail report of the time states that it was "attributed to someone not unconnected with our old friend the British Council".[citation needed]

O'Brien's claims have not been substantiated, and no author has ever been identified for the more popular versions that begin "Hitler has only got one ball". There is no known attempt by anyone to claim or enforce a copyright on the lyrics.[citation needed] It is listed in the Roud Folk Song Index, number 10493.

The numerous versions, including the frankly obscene, reflect the enthusiasm with which it was first adopted as a British Army marching-song, then as a popular song of defiance against Adolf Hitler's Nazi-German regime in the other branches of the British armed forces, and amongst British civilians, from 1940 onwards.

It has been suggested that the pre-Glasnost Soviet descriptions of what remained of Hitler's corpse reported his monorchism (having only one functional testicle) at the suggestion of Guy Burgess and/or Kim Philby, as part of their making a joke, based on this song, that they could expect the British population and secret services, if not those of the USA or USSR, would get.[1]

Whatever the reason for Hitler's alleged monorchism becoming a popular myth, there was psychodynamic literature, produced outside the USSR after World War II, which sought to explain his personality and behaviour, as a charismatic, genocidal megalomaniac, which drew on his alleged congenital "semi-castration" and/or the child-rearing practices of his family.[2]

Song lyrics[edit]

The melody used for "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball" is the "Colonel Bogey March", recorded here by the United States Navy Band.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

All versions are sung to the tune of The Colonel Bogey March.

O'Brien's version[edit]

Göring has only got one ball
Hitler's [are] so very small
Himmler's so very similar
And Goebbels has no balls at all

Variations

Popular alterations to the lines in this version, most of them apparently for the purpose of better fitting the "Colonel Bogey" rhythm, are similar to those discussed below and include:

  • Hitler "has two, but very small";
  • Himmler "has something sim'lar" or "is somewhat sim'lar"; and
  • "And Joseph Goebbels..." or "And poor old Goebbels...".
  • Better than having none at all, (line 2)

Variant stanzas[edit]

Variant 1 (most common)

Hitler has only got one ball,
Göring has two but very small,
Himmler is somewhat sim'lar,
But poor Goebbels has no balls at all.

Line 2 is "Göring his balls are very small" in some versions.[citation needed]

In line 3, "is somewhat" is sometimes replaced by "is rather" or "has something" (the latter keeps all lines using 'has'). The first line may also be one left ball, one brass ball, one big ball; approximately this version appears in Thomas Pynchon's V. (page 325). Other alternatives to line 3 include: "Himmler's are somewhat simmler," and "Hess has even less,"

In some versions, line 4 is "And Martin Bormann has got none at all."

Variant 2

Hitler: he had but one left ball,
Mussolini: he had none at all,
Stalin: he was three-ballin',
And that's the dictator's rise and fall!

Variant 3

Hitler has only got one ball,
The other is on the kitchen wall, [or] (the other is in the Albert Hall), or (in Northern England: The Leeds Town Hall)
His mother, the dirty bugger,
Chopped it off when he was small.
She threw it, into the apple tree [or] (Over West Germany)
The wind blew it into the deep blue sea [or] (Where it landed into the deep blue sea)
Where the fishes got out their dishes and ate scallops and bollocks for tea

Outside of the United Kingdom, the second line is often invoked as "The other is on the kitchen wall", "The other is on the White House wall" or "The other is hanging on the wall". Some areas of the United Kingdom alter the second line to feature local buildings; e.g.:

Other variations include use of the past tense, referring to Goebbels as Doctor, Hitler's other ball being "on the wall", mixtures of the variants above, and Hitler's life being "much simpler if he didn't have any at all".

Variant 4, as sung in Australia by schoolchildren in the 1950s and '60s, with phonetic spelling:

Hitler had only one brass ball,
Ger-ring had two but they were small,
Himmler had something simmler,
And poor old Go-balls had no balls at all.

Note the addition of Hitler having had a brass testicle. Sometimes "Go-balls" would be replaced by a fictional "Joe-Balls", possibly because by then young children were unaware of who Goebbels was. Where Australian troops had served in North Africa, Rommel took the place of Goering in the second line.

Variant number 5, as sung by the Boy Scouts of America[citation needed][dubious ]

Hitler - oh he had one big ball
Göring - had two but they were rather small
Himmler - had something similar
But mister Goebbels had no balls at all

or

Hitler he's only got one ball
The other is on the kitchen wall
His mother the dirty lover
Chopped it off when he was one

or

Hitler - he only had one ball
Göbbels - had two but they were small
Himmler - had something sim'lar, and
Ernie Röhm - had no balls at all

Variant 6

Hitler - he had just one big ball
Himmler - had two but they were small
Göring - had one ball-bearing
And Goebbels had no balls at all

Variant 7, as sung in New Zealand in the 1940s and 1950s, similar to the Australian version above in its use of "Go-balls". This version is noteworthy for the wordplay between "two" and "too small":

Hitler has only got one ball,
Göring has two but they're too small,
Himmler has something sim'lar,
But poor old Go-balls has no balls at all.

Variant 8, another version sung in Australia; note that 'Himmler has something sim'lar' is changed to '[Australian then-Prime Minister Robert] Menzies, he's in a frenzies':

Hitler has only one brass ball,
Göring has two but they're too small,
Menzies was in a frenzies,
But poor old Go-balls has no balls at all.

Variant 9

Hitler - had one fat ball
the other - is in the Albert Hall
His Mother - who ate the other
Is still lying dead in Albert Hall

Variant 10, sung by 1962 New York City kids and presumably learned from members of their fathers' generation who served in the U.S. military during WWII:

Hitler - has only one Big ball
Himmler - has two but they are Small
Göring - has a Ball Bearing
and... and... and Goebbels.. has No Balls...
At All !!!

In Songs from the Front & Rear, Anthony Hopkins[3] gives the first verse of the song as:

Hitler,
Has only got one ball.
Goering,
Has two, but they are very small.
Himmler,
Has something sim'lar,
but poor old Goebbels,
Has no balls at all.

Where possible Hopkins has indicated the author and composer. He also notes in the Preface that some songs were not included because of "copyright restrictions".[4]

Variant 11

Hitler, has only got one ball
And that's no bloody good at all
Himmler, has something sim'lar
and Goebbels has no balls at all

Variant 12 (note return to historical accuracy of Goering's description):

Hitler only had one left ball,
Himmler had two but they were small,
Goering lost his in the beer hall,
And poor old Dr. Goebbels never had balls at all.

Variant 13, as sung in South Africa by schoolchildren in the 1950s and '60s:

Hitler had only one brass ball,
Churchill had two but they were small,
Rommel s'n was geskommel,
And Mussolini had no balls at all.

This is similar to the Australian version, however note the addition of Churchill (sometimes also "Monty") due to the ambivalent nature of Afrikaner sentiments to the British. Also note the addition of an Afrikaans third line that translates as "Rommel's was shaken".

Variant 14, historically inaccurate, but with good rhyme:

Hitler; he only had one ball,
Goering; had two but they were small,
Himmler; was somewhat similar
But poor old Goebbels--had no balls--at all.

Variant 15, lyrics from Belgian primary school De Wonderfluit www.wonderfluit.be:

Den oorlog; dat was echt niet fijn,
't Is leuker; om vredevol te zijn,
Dus laat ons; hier allen samen
Vrolijk fluitende vrienden zijn

Free translation:

The war; was no fun at all,
It's nicer; to live in peace with all,
So let us; all together
Be nice and happy whistling friends

Second verses: Hitler's mother[edit]

When the first verse includes Hitler's mother, a second verse is generally added:

She threw it over West Germany
It landed in the deep blue sea,
The fishes got out their dishes,
And had scallops and bollocks for tea.
or
She threw it into a conker tree
It missed, and went into the sea,
The fishes got out their dishes,
And had scallops and bollocks for tea.

Verses about Germany and Germans[edit]

These verses mention neither Nazis nor Hitler:

Frankfurt has only one beer hall,
Stuttgart, die München all on call,
Munich, vee lift our tunich,
To show vee "Cherman" have no balls at all.
Hans Otto is very short, not tall,
And blotto, for drinking Singhai and Skol.
A "Cherman", unlike Bruce Erwin,
Because Hans Otto has no balls at all.

In other media[edit]

The song has frequently been heard and seen in other media:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Explaining_Hitler.html?id=xLoOUy0iNOUC&redir_esc=y
  2. ^ http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/Explaining_Hitler.html?id=xLoOUy0iNOUC&redir_esc=y
  3. ^ Anthony Hopkins' "Songs from the Front & Rear" Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton; 1979 pg 186
  4. ^ Anthony Hopkins' "Songs from the Front & Rear" Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton; 1979 pg 14
  5. ^ Hitler has only got one ball on YouTube. Scene from the movie John Rabe (1:18 min)
  6. ^ YouTube: The Hitler Sketch on YouTube. The Armstrong and Miller Show (4:17 min)

External links[edit]