Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tony Manns at the Wintergarten

Does this qualify as a photographic postcard? The audience is clearly a photograph, but the act on stage might not be. The proportions are wrong. The performers might be a drawing or they might be a photo that has been drawn over for emphasis. - I've posted the back of the card because, while I think my translation is right, I thought I'd give actual German speakers a chance to correct my efforts. "Tony Manns, the familiar whistle virtuoso. April: Berlin, The Wintergarten. May 1-15: Koln/Rhein, The Wappenhof" June, July, and August, Swedish Tour. May 15, free. In Berlin: Above all, The Wintergarten!" I also wanted to show the stamp. I spent a lot of time on stamp web sites looking for a match so I could date the card. I'm fairly certain that it's a 3 pfennig, Paul von Hindenburg stamp from 1933. If so, that would be a very significant year in German history. In 1933, President Hindenburg would appoint Adolf Hitler as chancellor. By 1934, Hitler would have absolute power over a one party dictatorship. The Nazis would be in power. - From the end of World War 1 to the rise of Hitler, Germany would have one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the world. It's music, cabarets, theater, visual arts, and it's movie industry would make Berlin a rival to Paris as the cultural center of Europe. While we like to think that the artists of Germany fled Hitler and Nazism, most of them stayed put. Here is a list of some of those who either remained in Germany or who fled too late. Tony Manns was very likely one of them. - 1. G. W. Pabst. Known as Red Pabst by his friends and colleagues for his far left political views, Pabst directed silent classics, The Joyless Street, The Love of Jeanne Ney, Pandora's Box, Diary of a Lost Girl and co-directed The White Hell of Pitz Palu. He also made sound classics, Westfront 1918, The Three Penny Opera, and Kameradschaft. When Hitler came to power, Pabst accepted an offer to go to Hollywood. He made one film, A Modern Hero at Warner Brothers that flopped. Unhappy in Hollywood, he returned to Europe and made several movies in Paris. In 1939, he and his wife returned to Germany. According to his wife, she and Pabst had gone back to take care of family business, had intended to return to France, and had been trapped there when war started. Pabst made a couple of films during the war. After the war ended, Pabst wasn't able to get any film assignments until 1948. He continued to direct films into the 1960s. - 2. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, operatic soprano was an early member of the Nazi Party. In latter years, she claimed that joining the party was like joining a union, and meant nothing. She did, however, join the youth wing of the Nazi Student Association in 1935, where she was a Fuhrerin, a group leader, indicating a level of involvement in the party beyond mere convenience. Several years after the war, she married British impresario, Walter Legge, and became a British citizen, and eventually, a Dame Commander of the British Empire. - 3. Emil Nolde, painter, print maker and prominent member of the German expressionist movement, was an early supporter of the Nazi party and became a party member in 1934. Despite his party membership, he was declared a degenerate artist and more than 1,000 of his works were removed from public display. In 1941 he was banned from painting, even in private, though he did continue to paint watercolors, which he kept hidden for the duration of the war. He resumed his career after the war, and died in 1956. - 4. Werner Kruass, who played the title role in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, was an early supporter and enthusiastic member of the Nazi party. He was declared an Actor of the State by propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and stared in the most notorious antisemitic film to come out of Nazi Germany, Jud Suss. After the war he made only three more films before his death. (The director of Jud Suss, Veit Haraln's first wife. the actress Dora Gerson, was Jewish and died in Auschwitz.) - 5. Renata Muller, tall, blond and the stereotype of the perfect Aryan woman, starred in a number of German comedies in the 1930s including Viktor und Viktoria that was remade as Victor/Victoria by Blake Edwards, starring Julie Andrews. She was also a singer and recording artist. Pressured by the Propaganda Ministry to promote Nazi ideals, she resisted, but was eventually forced to appear in the propaganda film Togger. She died in 1937. She was 31 at the time of her death. The official cause of death was epilepsy, but after the war, witnesses came forward and stated that she had been thrown from a building by Gestapo officers after refusing to give up her Jewish lover. Another theory is that she committed suicide. The true circumstances of her death will probably never be known. - 6. Charles Puffy, comedian and actor, is best known to fans of silent films as the rolly-polly gang member in Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler. He was also in The Blue Angel. Puffy was born in Hungary, made a few films there and then went to Germany were he had a career in films and on the stage. From 1924-1927 he lived in the United States and made a number of films, mostly comedy shorts. He eventually returned to Germany and worked until he was forced out of the film industry because he was Jewish. He returned to his native Hungary, made a few films, and in 1941, after trying unsuccessfully to get back to the U.S., he and his wife fled east to the Soviet Union. After that, there are no reliable reports of what happened to him. One rumor is that he and his wife were arrested by the Soviets in Kazakhstan, sent to a prison camp where he died of diphtheria. Another unconfirmed rumor is that he was eventually released by the Soviets, made his way to China, where he was arrested by the Japanese and then died in Tokyo. - 7. Emil Jannings, born in Switzerland, but his family moved to Germany when he was still young. He established himself as a theater actor while still a young man, and quickly made the transition to film. He made classic silent films, Waxworks, Variety, Faust and The Last Laugh in Germany before accepting an offer to work in Hollywood. He won the first Academy Award for best actor for his performances in The Way of All Flesh, and The Last Command. (In the first year of the Academy Awards, actors were nominated for their work for the entire year, not just one film.) With the advent of sound, Jannings with his broken English and thick German accent found himself unemployable in the United States, so he returned to Germany where he made The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Gerron. Jannings was an early supporter of the Nazi regime and party member. He was declared Artist of the State by Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, and spent the remainder of his career making films that supported the regime. He made his last film in 1945, and never worked again. - 8. Kurt Gerron. Actor, singer, cabaret star, writer, film and theater director. Born in Berlin, wounded in World War 1, medical student, Gerron went on stage for the first time, professionally in 1920. He would go on to originate the role Tiger Brown in Bertolt Brecht's Three Penny Opera. Gerron was in a number of silent movies, but is best known to film fans for his third billed role in The Blue Angel. Starting with short subjects, Gerron would go on to write, direct and star in a number of German comedies from the early sound era. In 1934 when all Jews were dismissed from the German film industry, Gerron moved to France and then the Netherlands were he continued his film career. After the Germans invaded the Netherlands he was arrested by the S.S. and sent to Westerbork transit camp. From there he was sent to Theresienstadt Concentration camp near Prague. In Theresienstadt, Gerron organized a cabaret theater, Kurt Gerron's Karussell. In 1944 he was ordered to write and direct a propaganda film, Hitler Gives a City to the Jews, that was meant to show that Jews were treated humanely by the Nazi government. After the film was wrapped, Gerron was sent to Auschwitz. He was part of the last selection and was gassed on October 28, 1944. He was 47 years old. The documentary Prisoner of Paradise tells his story and contains footage of Gerron performing in Berlin - I chose these eight examples of artists who stayed behind or who left too late to save themselves because, no matter what decesions they made, I admire at least some of their work. I love The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, own a DVD of the film, and watch it three or four times a year. The fact that Werner Krauss was a Nazi, while disturbing, is something that, in my mind, does not detract from the film. I like the German expressionists and admire Emil Nolde. And if I had more money, I would be ordering DVDs of The Last Laugh, Faust, and The Blue Angel, even though they all star Emil Jannings.

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