A Dance Between Flames: Berlin Between the Warsby Anton Gill
For a few, the Twenties really were golden. Max Reinhardt, Bertolt Brecht, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Josephine Baker electrified the stage. Berlin became
Anton Gill brilliantly recaptures the Berlin of the Twenties and Thirties, where the world's most exotic talents flourished against a background of decadence, corruption, hyperinflation and finally fear.
For a few, the Twenties really were golden. Max Reinhardt, Bertolt Brecht, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Josephine Baker electrified the stage. Berlin became the cabaret capital of the world, just as in the film Cabaret--inspired by Christopher Isherwood who was there with Auden and Spender. Harry Kessler rubbed shoulders with Einstein, Kurt Tucholsky with Arthur Koestler; Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya with Klemperer and Karajan; Grosz, Kandinsky and Kokoschka with the founders of the Bauhaus; Max Schmeling with Anita Berber. Berlin was the Hollywood, where Fritz Lang, Josef Von Sternberg, Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder all started their careers.
For most Berliners, though, life was harsh. While the rich danced there was fighting on the streets. When the mark crashed those with hard currency lived like princes, but middle-class Germans prostituted their daughters to make ends meet. As the Twenties became the Thirties, politics veered from farce to tragedy in the face of Nazi terror.
More and more left for London, Paris of New York. Others threw in their lot with the new regime. Hitler's favourite, Leni Riefenstahl, created in her film of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, perhaps the greatest piece of propaganda in history. Erich Kastner--best known now for Emil and the Detectives--saw his own books burned by the Nazis. Wilhelm Furtwangler almost destroyed his future. Wernher von Braun developed the rockets that would later bring such havoc to London (though his subsequent work in the USA underpinned the entire Space programme).
Nazi victory condemned Berlin to fifty years in the wilderness. This book is perfectly timed to celebrate its return to capital status and its old elan.
- Murray, John Publishers, Limited
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