Mein Mann ist Verhindert

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  • See also the feature on the original English version of this Cole Porter song, Miss Otis Regrets.  According to Wikipedia, Miss Otis Regrets was “first performed on stage by Douglas Byng in the musical Hi Diddle Diddle, which opened October 3, 1934 at the Savoy Theatre, London. However, the song was originally written for Ada “Bricktop” Smith to perform.”

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Mein Mann ist Verhindert — a German version of Miss Otis Regrets, original words and music by Cole Porter —  German text by Lothar Metzl.

On Lothar Metzel, a “biography” at IMDB says only,

Lothar Metzl was the lyricist for the 1944 musical “Marianne” and for the 1940 revue “Reunion in New York”. Mr. Lothar Metzl also did the lyrics for c. 12 songs For Marlene Dietrich she sang for the USO in WWII [spelling and cases normalized].

The description fails to accurately identify the nature of a significant portion of Metzel’s employment during the war years. He was engaged to write anti-Nazi propaganda songs for the OSS, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, during WWII, as is described in the book The Shadow War Against Hitler: The Covert Operations of America’s Wartime, by Christof Mauch, pub. 2002, pp. 153f. Mauch indicates that Metzel became in 1944 a chief propaganda writer. Metzl was a native Viennese who had abandoned his career as a doctor of law to become a writer. Though “an unknown commodity in the US”, living in obscurity in New York from 1938 to 1943 at which time he began serving in the Army as a private, he had been well-known in Vienna. Mauch writes,

Metzel had made a name for himself there as co-founder of the legendary satirical cabaret Literatur am Naschmarcht and as an opera arranger before he fled Vienna in 1938, initially for Prague and later to the United States.

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Marlene Dietrich was not unaware of the purpose of the songs she was performing during the war. An excerpt from her biography at Wikipedia:

In 1944, the Morale Operations Branch of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) intitiated the Musac project,[5] musical propaganda broadcasts designed to demoralize enemy soldiers. Dietrich, the only performer who was made aware that her recordings would be for OSS use, recorded a number of songs in German for the project, including Lili Marleen, a favourite of soldiers on both sides of the conflict.[6] William Joseph Donovan, head of the OSS, wrote to Dietrich, “I am personally deeply grateful for your generosity in making these recordings for us.”[7]

Also, from Wikipedia:

Dietrich was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the US in 1945. She said that this was her proudest accomplishment. She was also awarded the Legion d’Honneur by the French government as recognition for her wartime work.

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I’m not sure of the date of the following Dietrich recording. One site says she recorded the song in 1951. But it may have been among the propaganda lyrics written for her by Metzl during the war.

Marlene Dietrich

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Marlene Dietrich-1-sm

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Krimigedicht: Lothar Metzel – Mein Mann ist verhindert » CULTurMAG

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