Marlene Dietrich

The year 2001 saw Berlin celebrating Marlene Dietrich’s one-hundredth birthday (she died in 1992). Today, aficionados can trace her life around the city. According to Cook (2001), they can begin at her birthplace in Leberstrasse 65, located close to the restaurant of the Blauer Engel (named after her best known film, The Blue Angel). Thereafter, they proceed to her old school in Gasteinerstrasse and to Hildegardstrasse 54, the flat where she lived as a young actress. Next comes the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church where she married Rudolf Sieter, followed by the Komödie Theater (revue performances), Deutsches Theater (classical dramas), Babelsberg studios (where The Blue Angel was filmed), and the Zooplast cinema (where it opened on April 1, 1930). Thereafter she left Germany for California, and subsequently Paris where she lived and died, never to reside in Berlin again, although she did return in 1945 attired in American uniform to entertain the allies and in 1960 took part in a postwar tour of the country. Her last resting place is the Stubenrauchstrasse cemetery where a simple plaque announces the name ‘Marlene.’
Most of the Dietrich memorabilia, purchased with her estate from her daughter in 1993 for £3.6 million, are to be found in the New Film Museum in Potsdammer Platz. They include her love letters, diary, gifts from Ernest Hemmingway and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., as well as 3000 dresses, 10,000 photographs, and 35,000 documents. This anti-Nazi icon (who refused several of the Führer’s invitations for her to return in a triumphant procession through the Brandenburg Gate) in many ways encapsulates all that is best in the postmodern German psyche, a rags to riches saga based on Weberian hard work. Even with the reconstruction of Berlin all around them, her compatriots do not forget.The future is thus connected to the past via nostalgia. Mother Marlene has at last come home to the fatherland.

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