September 10, 2017 posted by

Sing Me A Cartoon #9: Who’s Afraid of “dem boesen Wolf?”

There is a tendency to believe that, as soon as Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933, the lights went out on popular entertainment and culture in Germany, not to come back on again until after 1945.

Actually, the National Socialists did not really start to clamp down on mattes cultural until 1935. Until then, American and British films played German cinemas, as they had before Hitler came to power.

And among the pictures that played there was a “Trickfilm”, called “Drei kleinen Schwinchen“–which is our old friend, Three Little Pigs, dubbed into German.

Wherever the film went, so went the song–given a German title of “Wer hat Angst vor dem boesen Wolf?”. A German lyric was written for song, closely following Ann Ronell’s English verses and chorus.

It would appear that most German record companies had versions of this in their supplements and catalogs. We know of a relatively small number, mostly by dance orchestras with vocal refrains–but sometimes by vocal artistes, and, at other times, by dance bands without vocals.

What’s more, German orchestras would record versions for neighboring countries where the language was not German. Thus, Barnard Ette’s popular stage band recorded “Wer hat Angst. . .” not only with a German vocal (for issue on the lower-priced Gloria marque), but also with a Danish vocal, for issue in Denmark on a full-priced Odeon disc.

The song must have been a hit with the “Mann-am-Strasse”. It is still remembered to this day.

A very popular concert attraction in Germany is Max Raabe und die Palast-Orchester–which puts on shows in which they revive the sounds and songs of the 1920’s and 1930’s, as they might have been played by major dance bands of the time.

I am told that some of their concerts have run on PBS stations–especially during “pledge drives”; those annoying ties when they rattle the tin cup in search of donations.

Numbers from some of these concerts have been uploaded onto various sites, where they may be sen by anybody who has access to a computer. And among these uploads are his performances of “Wer hat Angst vor dem boesen Wolf?”.

For these performances, Raabe (a singer himself) and two of his musicians–one a violinist, the other a sax man who plays the flute–don rubber pig snouts, over their natural noses It doesn’t seem to affect their singing.

Lore has it that “Wer hat Angst. . . ” was the favorite song of one Adolf Hitler. There’s probably no way to judge the veracity of what is said in lore. But it has been claimed that Hitler was a fan of Walt Disney’s cartoons, including, and especially, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It has been alleged that there exist drawings, signed “A.H.”, of Hitler’s attempts at drawing a couple of the Dwarfs.

One might want to think that anybody who likes Disney can’t be all bad—-

—-but in his case, we can make an exception!

As a supplement, here are links to the vintage versions that are on YouTube. These are not the be-all and end-all of such recordings–just what’s been uploaded onto YT.

Robert Renard (Odeon, uploaded by Ilja Livschakoff). Novelty instrumental, directed by Odeon house band leader Otto Dobbrindt. Uploaded by somebody who has taken the name of a popular bandleader of the 1930’s.

Hans Schindler (Brilant-Special). There are two versions here–one with a German vocal (uploaded by “brillantsecial”, who has taken the name of the record company as his own), and another one with an English-language vocal (uploaded by “plattensammler88”).

Bernard Ette (Gloria/Odeon) Two different versions uploaded by “phonomono78s”. The one on Gloria has a German vocal refrain. The one on Odeon was fixed up for the Danish market, with title in Danish.

Hans Bund (Telefunken) This version is uploaded twice. “DeutschlandSender” has it from a German issue, while “phonomono78s” has it from a Czech issue. Do not be fooled by the sight of “DeutschlandSender” putting an old-style tonearm on the disc–his dubs are good, all-electronic dubs, without any digital artifacts.

Kardosch Singers (Telefunken) uploaded by “jonjamg”. This has the most muffled sound of any of them, but that’s the usual way of “jonjamg”.

Next: The Big Bad Wolf in Britain and France


  • I notice the German print above doesn’t have the pigs “machine gun” their imaginary enemies. How often was this eliminated in other markets?

    • Nothing has been excised from this print. The “machine=gunning” is there at 2:27 or so.

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