Ich liebe jeden, der mich gefällt.

There are woman from long ago that I admire. A few years a go a dear friend gave me a framed photograph of one who has become some sort of muse for me: Zarah Leander. The strong hearted and beautiful Swedish actress and singer who made such brilliant performances in German films in the early 20th century. Her real name was Sara Stina Herdberg. During the second world war she decided to stay in Berlin as she worked for Hitler’s regime albeit without publicly taking sides. Early in her career and even during the war she did however publicly denounced the Nazi’s by singing strong anti Nazi songs in a cabaret. But she was contracted by UfA, Hitler’s propaganda film company, a contract she took for the money. In 1943 however she returned to Sweden and was possibly unjustly controversial for the rest of her life because of her decision to stay in Germany during the war in the city she loved so much. First and foremost she was an actress, secondly Swedish and thirdly a Berlin woman who could not drag herself away from Germany that had been so good for her in the 1920’s and 1930’s. A choice that did not turn out well for her but in which she was not unique.

In spite of her disputable choice to stay in Berlin it is very obvious that she was a great actress and singer and her performances were no less that Marlene Dietrich’s who was in many aspects comparable except for the wartime choice they made. Zarah Leander lived until the end of the seventies and her career never really took off after the war, she was tainted in the eyes of many.

Zarah Leander, 1936

Still, I see and hear an actress with a great voice and a woman who was in her own right strong. Some of the songs she sang in films are amazing. Particularly this one where a woman takes position and denounces dependency on the love of only one (man). She tells the audience that she decides to choose her lover in spite of the heartbreak the previous one caused. She is the one who decides and she does not become dependent on that single person because ‘there are so many in this world and I love the one I like’. It is this attitude that the song reflects that is close to my heart and the very reason I will always permit myself to fall in love. And honestly, I love the songs of Zarah Leander. This one by the way comes from the film ‘Es war ein rauschende ballnacht’ made in 1939, the lyrics are by Theo Mackeben. I’ll guess I’ll translate it into Dutch some day soon.

Alice © 2012

Es ist ja ganz gleich, wen wir lieben
Und wer uns das Herz einmal bricht
Wir werden vom Schicksal getrieben
Und das Ende ist immer Verzicht

Wir glauben und hoffen und denken,daß
einmal ein Wunder geschieht.
Doch wenn wir uns dann verschenken
Ist es das alte Lied

Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen
Es gibt auf Erden nicht nur den Einen
Es gibt so viele auf dieser Welt
Ich liebe jeden der mir gefällt
Und darum sollst du heut mir gehören
ich will dir Treue und Liebe schwören
Wenn ich auch fühle, es muss ja Lüge sein
Ich lüge auch und bin Dein !

Wir kamen von Süden und Norden
Mit Herzen so fremd und so stumm
So bin ich die deine geworden
Und ich kann dir nicht sagen warum
Denn als ich mich an dich verloren
Hab ich eines Andern gedacht
So ward die Lüge geboren
Schon in der ersten Nacht

Nur nicht aus Liebe weinen
Es gibt auf Erden nicht nur den Einen
Es gibt so viele auf dieser Welt
Ich liebe jeden der mir gefällt
Und darum will ich heut dir gehören
Du sollst mir Treue und Liebe schwören
Wenn ich auch fühle, es muss ja Lüge sein
Ich lüge auch und bin Dein !

2 thoughts on “Ich liebe jeden, der mich gefällt.

    • I don’t think I would agree with that. Mrs. Leander at that time was a very celebrated actress of equal stature to Marlene Dietrich. She just made a commercial choice and was noted to be a tough negotiator with higher than average wages for her work. Based on this – documented – information it is hardly to be expected that economics were the reason for her choice. Artistically however Berlin was an exciting city, even in the first years of the war. She left Germany however in 1943 when the heat was turned on by Allied forces. Sweden at the time was occupied territory and her homeland. Not a strange choice for her to move there.

      Zarah Leander at that time was certainly not poor. After the war however she experienced hardship as people did blame her for working for the Nazi propaganda film company UfA. That company was before the war and still is the major German film company and distributor. It is now a part of the Bertelsmann media concern.

      Zarah Leander never stopped filming and performing until the late sixties and has always been recognized by many as a great actress, amazing singer and extraordinary beautiful woman. I share these views and in hindsight won’t blame her for making a politically vulnerable choice in a difficult wartime. For me she is still captivating.

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