SONGS

The hit parade
The Alabama Song

The Alabama Song

The Alabama Song first appeared in a collection of five poems published by Bertholt Brecht in 1927, called Die Hauspostille. It was written in English and performed by Brecht, to his own music, on stages all over Berlin. He was soon approached by an unlikely collaborator, the classical composer Kurt Weill, who was impressed with …

The Alabama Song Read More »

Hans Albers

Hans Albers

Hans Albers moved to Berlin after World War I and found work playing comic roles in theatre and cabaret. After appearing in over 100 silent films, his big break came in the first German talking movie Die Nacht gehört uns (The Night Belongs to Us) in 1929. He then starred alongside Marlene Dietrich in Der …

Hans Albers Read More »

Siegfried Arno

Siegfried Arno

The extraordinary career of Hollywood star Sig Arno is mostly remembered through the 150 films he appeared in from 1921 to 1962, but his roots in the cabaret scene of Weimar Berlin is a lesser told story. Born Siegfried Aron in Hamburg in December 1895, he attended the Talmud Torah school before training as a …

Siegfried Arno Read More »

Avus

Avus

”The car whirled along the black Avus, into the immense darkness of the winter countryside. Giant reflector signs glittered for a moment in the headlight beams, expired like burnt-out matches. Already Berlin was a reddish glow in the sky behind us, dwindling rapidly beyond a converging forest of pines. The searchlight on the Funkturm swung …

Avus Read More »

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker

In December 1925, the American cabaret performer Josephine Baker brought her show La Revue Négre from Paris to Berlin’s Theater De Westens. Jazz was rapidly replacing the more traditional musical forms in cabaret and revue but it was not until after the stabilisation of the currency in 1924 that many Berliners had the chance to …

Josephine Baker Read More »

Wilhelm Bendow

Wilhelm Bendow

Wilhelm Emil Boden was born on September 29th 1884 in Einbeck, Germany. He began his stage career as a serious actor at Hamburg’s Thalia Theater. By 1906, he had moved to Berlin’s Schiller Theatre and found himself drawn to the city’s vibrant cabaret scene. He first appeared in cabaret in 1919 and was one of …

Wilhelm Bendow Read More »

Anita Berber

Anita Berber

Anita Berber was born in Dresden on June 10th 1899 to Felix and Lucie Berber. Felix was First Violinist with the Municipal Orchestra and Lucie, an aspiring actress and singer. She was mostly raised by her grandmother in her early years and then exclusively so after her parents divorced in 1901. Four years later, her …

Anita Berber Read More »

Berlins Lesbische Frauen

Berlins Lesbische Frauen

In 1928, Ruth Margarete Roellig wrote a guide book for visitors to Berlin. But this wasn’t just any run-of-the-mill guidebook. This was Berlins Lesbische Frauen a comprehensive guide to the hottest and most happening lesbian bars and clubs the city had to offer. With an estimated 85,000 living in the city, Berlin was the lesbian …

Berlins Lesbische Frauen Read More »

Blue Stocking

Blue Stocking

Crowded into the packed, densely populated streets of north Berlin were a network of after-hours ‘Dielen’ – mostly cellar bars and clubs attracting a wide variety of fun-seekers, petty criminals, drug-dealers and prostitutes. British tour operator Cooks, ran late-night coaches to the many semi-criminal clubs in the area, presumably catering to clients for whom the …

Blue Stocking Read More »

Curt Bois

Curt Bois

Curt Bois was born on April 5th 1901 at Ansbacher Straße 28, in Berlin’s Schöneberg district. He was one of four children, his elder sister being the actress and comedian Ilse Bois. They were brought up by their single mother after their father had left them. He began acting at six years old, and was …

Curt Bois Read More »

Ilse Bois

Ilse Bois

Surprisingly little is known about the life of the comedian and actress Ilse Bois, possibly due to being overshadowed by the stellar career of her younger brother, Curt Bois. She was born in Berlin around 1900, and from an early age was acting in children’s theatre to assist her mother, who was left to bring …

Ilse Bois Read More »

Sally Bowles

Sally Bowles

Sally Bowles is a fictional character from the novels of Christopher Isherwood, Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye To Berlin, published in 1935 and 1939. She is a 19-year-old English actress and cabaret singer who has come to Berlin with dreams of stardom. Isherwood’s description of seeing her perform for the first time, at a …

Sally Bowles Read More »

Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht was 26 when he moved to Berlin. He was about to take up the role of Dramaturg at Max Reinhardt’s Theater am Kurfürstendamm and moved into a fifth-floor attic apartment in nearby Spichernstraße. His first two full-length plays Baal and Trommeln in der Nacht (Drums In The Night) had already been produced in …

Bertolt Brecht Read More »

Clärchens Ballhaus

Clärchens Ballhaus

Situated in Auguststraße in the Mitte district of Berlin, Clärchens Ballhaus is possibly the last original Weimar-era dancehall. It was opened in 1913 by Fritz Bühler as Bühler’s Ballhaus. It became known as Clärchens Ballhaus after Fritz Bühler was killed in the First World War and the business was taken over by his widow, Clara. …

Clärchens Ballhaus Read More »

Das Lila Lied

Das Lila Lied

Das Lila Lied (The Lavender Song) was written by the cabaret composer Mischa Spoliansky (under the pseudonym of Arno Billing) and songwriter Kurt Schwabach in 1920. It was dedicated to the German physician and ‘sexologist’ Magnus Hirschfeld, an early homosexual rights activist. It is now considered to be the first ever Gay Rights anthem. This …

Das Lila Lied Read More »

Die Morität von Mackie Messer

Die Morität von Mackie Messer

In late August of 1928 writer Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill were days away from the premier of their new production Die Dreigroschenoper – a reworking of John Gay’s eighteenth Century drama The Beggars Opera at Berlin’s Theater am Schiffbauerdamm. The leading man, Harald Paulsen, approached the pair with his concerns that his character …

Die Morität von Mackie Messer Read More »

Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich

Maria Magdelene Dietrich was born on 27th December 1901 in the Schöneberg district of Berlin. She was the second daughter of Louis Dietrich, a police lieutenant, and Wilhelmina Felsing, the daughter of a well-to-do Berlin family. Her sister Elisabeth was a year her senior. Their father died when she was ten and, five years later, …

Marlene Dietrich Read More »

Blandine Ebinger

Blandine Ebinger

Blandine Ebinger was born in Berlin in 1899, the daughter of pianist Gustav Loeser and the actress Margarete Wezel. Her theatre career began as early as age eight, with an appearance in Leipzig and then in many other stage productions. (pic: filmnoirphotos.blogspot.com) In 1919 she married the up and coming songwriter Friedrich Hollaender and became …

Blandine Ebinger Read More »

Eldorado

Eldorado

The Eldorado has had a complicated history in and around Schöneberg with several establishments claiming the name righter the years. In 1919, a bar called Eldorado-Diele opened at Alte Jakobstraße 60, in the Kreuzberg district of the city. It advertised itself as a cosy bar-restaurant for older gay men. It was only to last two …

Eldorado Read More »

Femina-Palast

Femina-Palast

“Sitting in the Dschungel, on Nürnberger Straße A man lost in time Near KaDeWe.” David Bowie, January 2013 – Where Are We Now The Femina-Palast was built in 1928 by architects Richard Bielenberg and Josef Moser for businessman Heinrich Liemann. Occupying Nürnberger Straße 50-53 on the border of Schöneberg and Charlottenberg and at 185 metres …

Femina-Palast Read More »

Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades

Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades

Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades was a stalwart of Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz bar and nightclub scene. From 1929 to 1932 he was a regular transvestite door-host and ‘taxi-dancer’ at the famous Eldorado club on Motzstrasse. Customers could buy tokens at the bar to exchange for dances and at the end of the evening the proceeds were divided between …

Oskar ‘Ossy’ Gades Read More »

Kurt Gerron

Kurt Gerron

Kurt Gerron was born in Berlin on May 11th 1897. He initially studied medicine but after being wounded in the First World War became a stage actor in 1920. He was one of the Weimar era’s biggest stars. He appeared in every major cabaret and revue of the era and starred in over seventy films, …

Kurt Gerron Read More »

Paul Graetz

Paul Graetz

Paul Graetz was born on July 2nd 1890 in Glogau, in the west of Poland. (image: virtual-history.com) He made his acting debut in 1911 at the Neuen Theater in Frankfurt am Main and in 1916 joined the Deutschen Theater in Berlin. His first production was The Merchant Of Venice directed by Max Rheinhardt, with whom …

Paul Graetz Read More »

Max Hansen

Max Hansen

Max Hansen was born Max Josef Haller on 22nd December 1897 in Mannheim, Germany. His mother was the Danish actress Eva Haller and his father was thought to be Swedish Army officer, Schürer von Waldheim. He grew up with foster parents in Munich and whilst still at school was performing at the Munich Opera House …

Max Hansen Read More »

Haus Vaterland

Haus Vaterland

Occupying almost the entire Potzdamer Platz, one of the vast pleasure palaces of late 1920s Berlin was Haus Vaterland. The impressively domed, 6-storey building was constructed in 1911 by architect Franz Schwechten and opened as House Potsdam. Immediately to the east of the railway station, it initially housed offices, an ÜFA cinema, and a 2500-seater …

Haus Vaterland Read More »

Trude Hesterberg

Trude Hesterberg

Gertrud Johanna Dorothea Helene Hesterberg was born in Berlin on May 2nd 1892. She was first taught to sing by her opera-singer aunt and began her formal classical training at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin in August 1911. She made her stage debut in a production by Moliere in 1912 and, also in that year, …

Trude Hesterberg Read More »

Hilde Hildebrand

Hilde Hildebrand

Emma Minna Hilde Hildebrand was born in Hannover on September 10th 1897. The daughter of Julius and Louise Hildebrand, she first attended ballet school at the age of 8 and joined the ballet ensemble of the Residenz Theater in 1913. Her theatre debut came in 1914 under the name of Emmy Hildebrand. By the end …

Hilde Hildebrand Read More »

Magnus Hirschfeld

Magnus Hirschfeld

Coming soon!
Friedrich Hollaender

Friedrich Hollaender

Friedrich Holländer was born in London where his father Victor Holländer was the Musical Director for the Barnum & Bailey circus. The family returned to Berlin in 1899 and young Friedrich was steeped in music and theatre throughout his childhood. One of the outstanding songwriters of the Weimar-era, Friedrich Holländer first came to the attention …

Friedrich Hollaender Read More »

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood was 24 years old when he first arrived in Berlin in March 1929. Initially, it was for a week-long visit to catch-up with his old school friend WH Auden, who had been there for 8 months already. Auden had been writing to Isherwood about what he was seeing and doing in the city …

Christopher Isherwood Read More »

Jockey Bar

Jockey Bar

The Jockey Bar opened in 1929 in what was then Lutherstraße 2, in the Charlottenburg district of the city. It is now Keithstraße 17 and tucked into the northern-most corner of Schöneberg, at the junction with Kurfürstenstraße. (image : Edition Gauglitz) From 1925 to 1929, the premises had been a German/Russian restaurant called Yar, but …

Jockey Bar Read More »

Walter Jurmann

Walter Jurmann

Austrian-born musician and songwriter Walter Jurmann was drawn to Berlin at the height of the Weimar era. He immediately found both a home in the ultra-modern new Erich Mendelsohn housing development on the Ku’Damm and work playing the piano in the bar at the luxurious Eden Hotel in Budapester Straße. The Eden Bar was one …

Walter Jurmann Read More »

Kadeko

Kadeko

The most successful cabaret of the later Weimar years was the Kabarett der Komiker or Kadeko (Cabaret of Comedians). It was established on December 1st 1924 by Paul Morgan, Kurt Robitschek and actor/singer Max Hansen at a venue called Rakete (the Rocket) in Berlins’ Kantstraße. The venture was immediately successful and a year later moved …

Kadeko Read More »

Kakadu Bar

Kakadu Bar

On its completion in the late 1800s, the area around Joachimstaler Platz on the corner of the Ku’damm resembled an open-air arena with tiered bleacher-style seating for 10,000 spectators. In July 1890 it played host to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, featuring 200 cowboys, indians and horses. The Kakadu opened at the corner of Joachimstaler …

Kakadu Bar Read More »

Bronisław Kaper

Bronisław Kaper

Polish-born Bronisław Kaper was drawn to the theatre and cabaret scene of Berlin in the 1920s where met fellow-composer Walter Jurmann. They fled together to Paris in 1933 but were soon lured to the US with a seven-year contract from MGM Studios. He went on to compose the music for over 150 Hollywood movies, winning …

Bronisław Kaper Read More »

Walter Kollo

Walter Kollo

Elimar Walter Kollodzieyski was born in Neidenburg, East Prussia on January 28th 1878, the son of an affluent businessman and a concert pianist. He was encouraged to study music from an early age by his mother, much to the disappointment of his father who later disinherited him. His first professional engagement was as a teacher …

Walter Kollo Read More »

Kate Kühl

Kate Kühl

Elfriede Katharina Nehrupt was born on December 16th 1899 in Cologne, Germany. Encouraged by her doctor father she came to Berlin aged 19, shortly after the First World War, to study classical music and song at the Stern Conservatory. Fiercely political and drawn to the bohemian world of the west Berlin cabaret scene she was …

Kate Kühl Read More »

Kurfürstendamm

Kurfürstendamm

The history of the Kurfürstendamm, known as the Ku’damm, can be traced back hundreds of years. As early as 1542, Kurfürst Joachim II marked out a track to connect the royal hunting grounds of the Tiergarten to the large forests of the Grunewald. The track became a road and over the years it expanded and …

Kurfürstendamm Read More »

Margo Lion

Margo Lion

Marguerite Hélène Constantine Barbe Elisabeth Lion was a French Singer and Actress, born in Istanbul (then Constantinople) on February 28th 1899. She first came to Berlin in 1921 and made her debut at Trude Hesterbergs cabaret ‘Wild Bühne’ (The Wild Stage) in 1923. She performed the songs of her long-term boyfriend, the lyricist Marcellus Schiffer, …

Margo Lion Read More »

Erich Lowinsky

Erich Lowinsky

Erich Lowinsky was a Weimar-era cabaret Conferencier who performed under the stage name of Elow. He is perhaps most famous for his Kabarett De Namenlosen (Cabaret Of The Nameless) which debuted in 1926 at the Monbijou Cabaret – formally The Weisse Maus – in Berlin’s Friedrichstraße. The concept was simple and would be easily recognisable …

Erich Lowinsky Read More »

Luna Park

Luna Park

”Spring in Berlin received its official sanction as a season of merriment, with the opening of the enormous Luna Park, just beyond the Halensee Bridge, set by the Gods of sensations at the very end of the Kurfürstendamm, which seems like one never-sending promise of sensations. Here the fun becomes insane, the absurdity hyperbolic, the …

Luna Park Read More »

Jeanne Mammen

Jeanne Mammen

Artist and Illustrator Jeanne Mammen lived and worked on the fourth floor of the rear building at Ku’damm 29 for over 50 years. Berlin born, she studied art in Paris, Brussels and Rome before returning home to work as an Illustrator for fashion magazines and as a poster designer for film company Ufa. (pic: db-artmag.com) …

Jeanne Mammen Read More »

Heinrich Mann

Heinrich Mann

For some years in the late 1920s, the five-storey residential block at Ku’damm 60 was the home of Heinrich Mann, brother of Thomas Mann. He was the author of the 1905 novel Professor Unrat which was the basis for the film Der blaue Engel (The Blue Angel), nearly 25 years later. Heinrich Mann came to …

Heinrich Mann Read More »

Metropol

Metropol

Construction started in 1905 on the new centre-piece of western Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz, the Neues Schauspielhaus. The huge theatre and concert hall, designed by architects Boswau & Knauer, opened in 1906 with a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the 1260-seat theatre. By 1911, the Mozartsaale concert hall had been converted into a cinema, seating 1364. …

Metropol Read More »

Leo Monosson

Leo Monosson

Leo Monosson was born 7th December 1897 in Moscow, to a family of wealthy jewellers. He completed his schooling in Russia before travelling through Warsaw, Paris and Vienna studying music and singing. He settled in Berlin in 1923. In Warsaw, he married for the first time, to Charlotte Frank, and they had two children by …

Leo Monosson Read More »

Paul Morgan

Paul Morgan

Georg Paul Morgenstern was born in Vienna in 1886, and as Paul Morgan was one of the biggest stars of Weimar-era Berlin. By the 1920s, he was a well-known Conferencier, or MC, on the Berlin cabaret circuit and in 1924, together with Kurt Robitschek and Max Hansen, founded the KadeKo – Berlin’s famous Cabaret of …

Paul Morgan Read More »

Renate Müller

Renate Müller

Renate Müller was born in Munich on April 26th, 1906. Her father was one of Munich’s leading newspaper publishers and her mother was a painter. A keen interest in acting and poetry led her to the Harzer Bergtheater in Thale where, under the tutelage of Georg Wilhelm Pabst, she made her stage debut in Ein …

Renate Müller Read More »

Rudolf Nelson

Rudolf Nelson

Born-and-bred Berliner Rudolf Nelson was one of the leading lights of the cabaret and revue scene from the early twentieth century on into the heady days of the Weimar era. From the earliest cabarets in 1904, to the ground- breaking Roland von Berlin in Potsdamer Straße, (which launched the career of Claire Waldoff), and on …

Rudolf Nelson Read More »

Günter Neumann

Günter Neumann

Günter Neumann was a major figure in the renaissance of cabaret in the devastated city of Berlin after World War II. His work was very much in the style of Friedrich Hollaender and Rudolf Nelson, whom he collaborated with on the show Berlin-W Weh! in 1949. His radio cabaret show Die Insulaner (The Islanders) ran …

Günter Neumann Read More »

Nollendorfplatz

Nollendorfplatz

This picture of Berlin’s Nollendorfplatz was taken in 1926. The overhead railway had been completed in 1904, and the square resembled a small park prior to the arrival of the electric trams in the boom of post-WW1 Berlin. The building rising to the left of the station cupola was home to the Schubert-Saal, one of …

Nollendorfplatz Read More »