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Germany: Zarah Leander

David Pike says: "Zarah Leander has been presented to WAIS as a German cabaret singer and film actress, allegedly a Soviet spy.

She was in fact a Swedish performer who owed her success to the refusal of Marlene Dietrich to return from Hollywood, and under the tutelage of Dr Goebbels she became the leading star of Nazi Germany. Though only mediocre as an actress, she was something else as a vocalist. She had a very strong personality, and her songs, like her films, showed an astonishing independence from Nazi propaganda, especially when she sang of her right to change her lovers every night.

Her voice was known to everyone in the German armed forces, including the SS who beamed it through the loudspeakers in the concentration camps, with the result that she was loved by SS and prisoners alike. One song had a couplet in it which, at Christmas 1944, endeared her to two opposite audiences: to those like Goebbels clinging to hope, and to the prisoners of the SS, clinging likewise. "I know a miracle is on its way, and we will meet again." Leander was still under contract in 1944 when she fled back to Sweden".

A similar comment was received from Stanley Payne. She lived in Germany (and Austria) and sang in German. I do not know if she became a German citizen. David says nothing about the allegations that she was a Soviet spy.

Ronald Hilton - 08.31.03