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.[1] 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.[1] 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". Hubert Gregg also claimed to have written the lyrics, which he said he sent anonymously to the British War Office.[1] There is no known attempt by anyone to claim or enforce a copyright on the lyrics.[1] It is listed in the Roud Folk Song Index, number 10493.[1]

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. In the words of Greg Kelley,

As a means of ridiculing the Nazis, “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball” became immensely popular among both British and American troops, who in transmitting this song were exercising something of a wartime convention by demeaning the sexual faculties of enemy leaders. But the mockery extended beyond just the Nazis’ sexual capacities. Since the 1920s, the words balls or ballsy had come to denote notions of courage, nerve, or fortitude. In that sense, defective testicles rendered the Nazis defective soldiers. This song’s itemized taxonomy of malformed German genitalia—the monorchid, the micro-orchid, the anorchid—was particularly forceful, and satisfying, to Allied soldiers in that it scattered satiric buckshot across the whole Nazi high command (Hitler; Hermann Göring, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe; Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS; and Goebbels, Reich minister of propaganda).[1]

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.[2]

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 of the song runs:[citation needed]

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

Popular alterations have been made to the lines in this version, most of them apparently for the purpose of better fitting the "Colonel Bogey" rhythm. A common version swaps the names in the first two lines and improves the scansion of the final line:[3]

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

Outside of the United Kingdom, the second line is often sung as "the other is on the kitchen wall" or another location. Some areas of the United Kingdom alter the second line to feature local buildings, such as the Albert Hall. Where Australian troops had served in North Africa, Rommel took the place of Göring in the second line. However, another verse, reflecting the respect in which Rommel was held by British soldiers, gives him extra balls.[1] The verse also refers to the boxer Max Schmeling who was a member of the German armed forces during the war:

Rommel has 4 or 5, I guess,
No one’s quite sure bout Rudolf Hess,
Schmeling is always yelling,
But poor old Goebbels [Go-balls] has no balls at all.[1]

A variation, popular in the 1960s and '70s, was:

Hitler has only got one ball;
The other is in the Albert Hall -
His mother, a little bugger,
Put it there when he was small.

In other media[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Greg Kelley, "Colonel Bogey’s March through Folk and Popular Culture" in Warrior Ways: Explorations in Modern Military Folklore, Utah State University Press, 2012, p.208
  2. ^ a b Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil - Ron Rosenbaum - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 
  3. ^ Anthony Hopkins' "Songs from the Front & Rear" Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton; 1979 pg 186
  4. ^ Hitler has only got one ball on YouTube. Scene from the movie John Rabe (1:18 min)
  5. ^ YouTube: The Hitler Sketch on YouTube. The Armstrong and Miller Show (4:17 min)

External links[edit]