The Fifth Decade (1940–1949)

After the outbreak of World War II and faced with a shortage of raw material, Deutsche Grammophon again stagnates – and in 1941 it is taken over by the electronics and engineering company Siemens & Halske. In spite of curtailed production, recording projects such as a relatively complete St. Matthew Passion conducted by Bruno Kittel in 1942 are produced (with the matrices taken by submarine to Japan, where Nippon Polydor has ordered 17,000 sets). On 9 May 1942 the Gestapo formally prohibits DG from producing masters using Jewish artists and orders the destruction of all records in which they are featured. Some recordings continued to be issued during this and the following year, notably of Karajan conducting the Berlin Staatskapelle, Concertgebouw, Berliner Philharmoniker, and RAI Orchestra of Turin. Among the other recordings from 1943 is Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben, conducted by the composer.

After the war’s end, a small record-manufacturing facility is opened in Berlin while the destroyed factory and administrative buildings in Hanover are being rebuilt. In 1946, Deutsche Grammophon becomes the first company to make all recordings using magnetic tape. In the following year, Archiv Produktion is founded to promote early music – its first recordings are of Bach played in Lübeck’s Jakobi­kirche by organist Helmut Walcha, who remains closely related with the label for 30 years. In 1949 exclusive rights to the trademark “His Master’s Voice” in Germany are sold to Electrola (EMI Germany) and the yellow Deutsche Grammophon label with tulip crown is introduced. Eugen Jochum, Ferenc Fricsay (who is to be a mainstay of the company’s roster during the 1950s), and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau make their first recordings for the now-Yellow Label.

Artists Joining

  • Adrian Aeschbacher
  • Géza Anda
  • Eduard van Beinum
  • Helena Braun
  • Maria Cebotari
  • Concertgebouworkest
  • Gertrud (later Trude)
  • Eipperle
  • Karl Elmendorff
  • Alfons Fügel
  • Christel Goltz
  • Josef Greindl
  • Hilde Güden
  • Georg Hann
  • Heinrich Hollreiser
  • Hans Hotter
  • Herbert von Karajan
  • Margarete Klose
  • Viscount Hidemaro Konoye
  • Clemens Krauss
  • Annelies Kupper
  • Max Lorenz
  • Leopold Ludwig
  • Walther Ludwig
  • Georgine von Milinkovic?
  • Maria Müller