Paul Godwin Tanz Orchester – 1932

If you enjoy these recordings help us spread the word that this wonderful, forgotten music exists by sharing this page with your friends.


“Niemand fragt uns” (“Nobody Asked Us”)
Paul Godwin Tanz Orchester;  Paul Dorn, vocal
(Grammophon 24508 B)          January 15, 1932


Here is a beautiful and very haunting tango composed by Allan Gray for the 1932 comedy film Die Gräfin von Monte-Christo/The Countess of Monte Cristo. The German lyrics are by Walter Reisch, who also wrote the film’s screenplay.

Several other bands in Germany also made recordings of the song, a few of which you can hear by doing a YouTube search for the song’s title. All are very nice, but I think this Paul Godwin/Paul Dorn version is, by far, the best. Paul Dorn’s vocal has a poignant quality that makes the already haunting melody even more so.

As much as I enjoy and am a huge fan of German popular music and dance bands from this era, I do not speak the language.  This is one of those instances where, on the one hand, I am curious to hear a translation of the lyrics but, on the other, am reluctant to do so out of fear that they might end up being utterly banal and trite and thus break the mood that Dorn’s rendition of them seems to convey.

The film’s premise must have been compelling as it was remade three times: A 1934 version was made in the USA starring Fay Wray, and another American version was made in 1948 starring Sonja Henie.  In 1957 a German remake was released under the title
Einmal eine große Dame sein/Just Once a Great Lady.  The film’s title is identical to that of another German film from 1934, but the storyline is a remake of The Countess of Monte Cristo.

The IMDB page for the film’s 1934 American remake indicates that its soundtrack featured a song, “No One Worries, No One Cares,” composed by Allan Gray with English lyrics by Harry Tobias. I have not been able to find any clips from that film to determine whether its tune is the same as “Niemand fragt uns.”  Nor can I find mention of any American recordings having been made of a song by that title.

One year and fifteen days after this recording was made, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany, an event that would significantly alter the trajectory of the lives of all of the principals associated with the song and the recording.

Within months, it became impossible for Allan Gray, Walter Reisch, and Paul Godwin to work in Germany, forcing them to flee the country.

Walter Reisch successfully resumed his career as a film writer in Hollywood, first at MGM and later at 20th Century Fox.  Allan Gray spent the war years as a composer for the British film industry and became a British citizen in 1947.

Paul Godwin was able to resume his career in the Netherlands until that country came under German occupation in 1940.  Early in the occupation, he performed in concerts at the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theater) in Amsterdam’s Jewish Quarter until the theater was converted into a deportation center where Jews were detained for transit to the concentration camps where most would perish.

Because Paul Godwin’s wife was considered to be an “Aryan,” he was able to avoid being sent to the concentration camps, though he was subjected to forced labor. Godwin lost three brothers and a sister who were murdered in the gas chambers.  After the war he became a Dutch citizen and worked performing classical music for the Dutch Broadcasting Corporation.

Paul Dorn was not Jewish and was thus not restricted from continuing to work in Germany.  As a studio vocalist for most of the major German record labels,  Dorn performed on hundreds of recordings by various dance bands throughout the 1930s, in most cases without any label credit, as was common practice at the time. Within a few months of the outbreak of World War II, Dorn was drafted into the Wehrmacht.   

While on leave in Berlin in June 1942, he made his last recordings with Belgian bandleader Fud Candrix, who formed a band in Berlin after his country came under occupation.  This would also be the last time Dorn would see his family as he was subsequently sent to the Eastern front. 

Based on a letter a Polish priest sent to his widow after the war, Paul Dorn is believed to have died near Danzig sometime around March 29, 1945. His family was never able to learn of his place of burial. 

If you enjoy these recordings help us spread the word that this wonderful, forgotten music exists by sharing this page with your friends.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.