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A Military Base

by Rettward von Doernberg

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After the first draft of the piece was finished, I needed a voice. I searched for famous speeches and found one by the then President of the United States on the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. When he spoke of Hiroshima as a military base instead of a city, I knew I had found what I needed.


In the first drafts for the speech he even spoke of a purely military base, nothing else... Hiroshima also contained a military base, but Japanese soldiers accounted for only 10% of the 166,000 killed (Japanese, higher estimate). 90% of the dead were men, women and children.


Under today's law, this bombing is a war crime. At that time, unfortunately, a common practice. First the German regime started with the targeted killing of civilians by air raids on Warsaw and London. Then the British regime followed on a grand scale with Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin. But the American regime became the world champions by razing a third of Tokyo to the ground in a single night. Previously, 1.5 million men, women and children had lived there. And finally, the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, originally intended for German cities and German civilians.


As frightening as it is what we humans do to each other - and anyone who opens their eyes realizes that it goes on just as much today - what I was concerned with in this piece was something else: I was concerned with the fact that, amazingly enough, we allow ourselves to be lied to again and again by politicians, even in the most important matters. And that we practically never hold these liars to account.

If we recall the accepted concept of democracy, we pay a few people from our ranks very well for taking care of all our concerns. A highly responsible task. However, if they lie to us, there are usually no serious consequences for them.

Just for comparison: If I had an employee who not only managed my business, but also all my rights, my health, the relationship with my neighbors, the future of my and the next generation, the preservation and promotion of culture - in short: everything that affects me and everyone around me. And then this person lies to me?

But when politicians lie to us, we just accept it. Instead of firing them in disgrace (with punishment?) the next day, we shower them with money, adoration and recognition as if the last lies were long enough ago.

Do we have to put up with the stereotype of the lying politician forever? Don't we deserve better people at our helm? What kind of light does it shed on us if we keep letting people like this get to the top over and over again?


All the numbers of how many people were killed are - as sad as they are - very abstract for me. I find it helpful to imagine a very discrete, single fate. So, I imagined an American man married to a Japanese woman. Their daughter is staying in Hiroshima at the time.

He then hears the speech of the American president on the radio and hears that the city where his daughter is has been destroyed with a new kind of bomb. Of course, he immediately sees through the brazen lie when they talk about a military base, instead of a city. What would be going on his mind?

Once I came up with this story - and it's not necessarily that far-fetched - it was much easier for me to finish the piece. As a bonus, it also gave me a story for the video I was planning.


Having a real story for the video very early on made working on it easy. I grabbed a bunch of public domain video clips and got started. What was interesting this time was that I kept switching between music and video as I worked. So the two media influenced each other - for the better, it seemed to me. I found working on the video almost as fulfilling as working on the music. For me, this was a new experience.

I deliberately chose a particularly high resolution for the video (4K) because I could then use images from the video for the cover. I had noticed in previous videos that I could have easily saved myself a lot of work if I could have simply taken an image from the respective film there as well.


After the video and the music were finished, I knew how I would design the cover: I would reveal the secret of the video already here. But if you don't know the movie, you can only guess the context and hopefully get curious about it.

Working on the cover was faster than on any other before. In one sitting I had 95% done. The text "a military base" is a copy of the original script for the speech of the American president.


Originally I programmed a bass. But I realized that it wasn't quite right yet. I also wasn't sure if I could do it better next time.

That's when it hit me: Why didn't I just ask my old friend Helge Marx (helgemarx.com) if he wanted to play the bass? He did, and the bass is now so much better than I ever could have made it. Well, Helge just got it...


To Helge for the fantastic bass and his assessment of the mix of the track. Thanks to Serjoscha Emmert (www.serjoscha-emmert.de) for his honest opinion on the first draft of the short version. And to Olaf Marquardt for his helpful impressions on the video.


released June 9, 2023

Helge Marx: Bass


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Rettward von Doernberg Berlin, Germany

Just like the great explorers in times past, I'm on a very personal, musical voyage of discovery.

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