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 the ‘girls’ and the musicians.

He is almost certainly one of the people featured in the now-iconic series of photographs ‘Transvestites at the Eldorado’ held by the Bundesarchiv.

When increasingly anti-gay legislation was put in place in 1932, the Eldorado was forced to close – there was now a ban on same-sex dancing – Ossy found a job as a barman at the Dorian Gray bar in nearby Bülowstraße. This was to be short-lived as gay bars and clubs began to be raided and closed-down across the city, and the Dorian Gray was no exception.

In 1933, he moved to a job in the ‘safer’ surroundings of the DéDé Bar in the same street, a well known men-only venue.  Despite being part-owned by a Sturmabteilung (SA) Lieutenant and, by 1934 renamed the Bülow-Krug, the protection offered to this controversial gay bar was not extended to Ossy.

He was constantly arrested, interrogated and beaten for dressing in women’s clothes and by the end of 1934 he had been deported to Lichtenburg concentration camp. This camp was one of the first and housed mostly political prisoners and gay men.

He died there in 1938, aged 36.

 

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Walter Jurmann

Austrian-born musician and songwriter Walter Jurmann was drawn to Berlin at the height of the Weimar era and 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 of THE places to see and be seen in and around the Ku’Damm. Indeed, fellow-Austrian and soon to be world-famous film-director Billy Wilder also made a living at The Eden as a ‘Taxi-Dancer’ around the same time.

(Pic: Jurmann.org)

The talents of Walter Jurmann and his writing partner Fritz Rotter soon came to the attention of the recording label Ultraphon, who offered them a contract and they began writing hit after hit for artists, orchestras and the cabarets and revue theatres of the Ku’damm, and beyond.

Their most famous song of the 1920’s was ‘Veronika, der Lenz its da’ which was a hit for the all-male ensemble ‘The Comedian Harmonists’, and remains an evergreen ‘Schlager’ classic to this day.

 

 

With the advent of sound movies, Jurmann moved into writing film scores. The 1931 hit film ‘Ihre Majestät die Liebe’   featured five of his songs performed by some of the most famous cabaret stars of the era,  and he was soon inundated with commissions.  His tunes were so memorable and recognisable that it was said they could be heard being hummed on the street the morning after a film had opened. 

Like so many artists of his generation he fled Berlin in 1933, along with his new writing partner Bronislaw Kaper and headed for Paris where he continued to write songs and scores  for movies, adapting his work into a more French ‘Chanson’ style.

In 1934, Louis B. Mayer visited Paris to search out Jurmann and Kaper, and offered them a seven-year contact with MGM. By October of that year they were both in the U.S.

His success continued in Hollywood, where he contributed to films such as ‘Mutiny On The Bounty, ‘A Day At The Races, and ‘Presenting Lily Marrs’ starring Judy Garland. He continued to write and compose for both the stage and screen throughout the 1940’s and 50’s before taking semi-retirement, and marrying the fashion-designer Yvonne Jellinek, in 1953.

He died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 1971, aged 67,  and is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in California.

 

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One House In One Street in Berlin.

Running south from Hohenzollenplatz and parallel to the modern, busy Bundesallee in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district of Berlin is the small,  quiet, residential street of Nassauische Straße, named in 1886 after the former Province of Hesse-Nassau.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the street was in its prime and consisted mainly of substantial 5-storey blocks with gardens, and apartments of 8-12 rooms for wealthy, middle-class families.

By the end of the First World War, demand for more affordable housing was so great that these grand apartment blocks had begun to be sub-divided, and additional smaller blocks built into the gardens and inner courtyards.

Many of the buildings in this small street have stories to tell, but one in particular stands out.

(Picture : Brendan Nash)

In the Spring of 1923, newlyweds Rudolf and Marlene Sieber moved into their first family home at Nassauische Straße 30.

They had been married at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche on May 14th of that year, and Marlene was already pregnant with their first -and only- child.

Rudolf was a talented Assistant Director at the Ufa film studios in Potsdam and Marlene a regular performer with the ‘repertory’ company at the Theatre am Nollendorfplatz.

 

(Picture: Filmmuseum Berlin)

The Renton Mark was yet to be introduced to stabilise the currency and Germany was in the grip of catastrophic hyper-inflation, one American Dollar was worth 350 German Marks.

The Siebers would only live at Nassauische Straße for a year but the apartment block was a very established one, full of both born-and-bred Berliners and those who had moved to the city from elsewhere – often extended families thrown together in these difficult times.

The neighbours at No.30, if they even met the young, aspiring actress who had just moved in, could have had no idea of what the future held for Frau Sieber as she transformed into the worldwide superstar, Marlene Dietrich.

Their own lives over the next two decades would be filled with the optimism of a fledgling new republic, confusion at the rise of hatred and far-right politics, discrimination and erosion of their human rights and ultimately the terror of deportation.

The names of some of these neighbours are remembered in fourteen Stolpersteine – brass, commemorative ‘stumbling blocks’  – laid in the cobbles of the street outside.

 

(Picture: Brendan Nash)

Adele Alifeld was born on December 29th 1865 in the small town of Pasewalk,in the state of  Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, in the north-east of Germany.

On March 17th 1943, at the age of 78, she was taken from her home and deported to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia where she died eight days later on March 25th.

Wilhelm Goldstein from Stolpe in Melklenburg-Vorpommern, was 58 when he was deported to Auchwitz on March 4th 1943. There are no further records of what happened to him.

Luise Niklas from Lipiny in Poland  endured the three day train journey to Riga, after having been deported on January 19th 1942, aged 51. She was killed on arrival.

63 year-old Regina Seidemann was deported to the Piaski ghetto in eastern Poland on March 28th 1942. The site was soon to be liquidated and it’s inhabitants murdered in the Belzec extermination camp.

 

(Picture: Brendan Nash)

Johanna Danielsohn was born in Berlin in 1879 and Elsa Danielsohn in 1907.

The 63 and 35 year old mother and daughter were loaded onto a train on September 5th 1942 and also endured the three day journey to Riga, where they were killed on arrival on September 8th.

Art-dealer Theodor Frankenbach had come to Berlin from Leipzig where he was born in 1869 and had married Elizabeth Graupe, four years his junior.  They were 73 and 69 years old when they were deported to Theresienstadt on October 3rd 1942, they were both dead by November 2nd of that same year.

Their son Kurt had been taken from them a week earlier and died on arrival at Raasiku bei Raval, on September 26th.

 

(Picture: Brendan Nash)

Henriette and Ludwig Dalheim were Berliners, born in 1888 & 1883 respectively and Thea Dalheim had been born Thea Toller in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt in 1899.  They were 56, 59 and 43 years of age when they were deported to Raasiku bei Raval in Estonia, on September 26th 1942, where they died soon after.

 (Picture: Brendan Nash)

Mother & Daughter Paula and Ruth Schiff had come to Berlin from Köln.

Ruth was born in 1913 and was just 31 when she and her mother were deported to Theresienstadt on March 17th, 1943 on the same transport as their neighbour Adele Alifeld. Ruth was then taken on to Auschwitz where she died in 1944.

Her mother Paula remained in Theresienstadt and, aged 67, was freed when the camp was liberated in 1945.

These fourteen Stolpersteine were laid on November 29th 2005 – there are 50 more of them in Nassauische Straße alone, and over 45,000 Europe-wide.

 

For further information go to

http://www.stolpersteine.eu/en/

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Cabaret Is Ten!

Update: July 1st 2014.

Cabaret Berlin is pleased to be able to offer 20% discount on tickets for this production of Cabaret. Use the link at the bottom of this article, or call/email the box office using the keyword “Brendan Nash” to obtain your discount. 

First staged at Berlin’s Bar Jeder Vernunft back in 2004, Vincent Patterson’s superb German-language production of Cabaret celebrates its tenth anniversary and is back at the Tipi Am Kanzleramt for an eight-week run this Summer.

 (Photo: Jan Wirdeier)

Seven Sally Bowles, five Fraulein Schneiders and nineteen Kit-Kat girls have featured in the production over the years, but returning for this season are regulars Michael Kargus as the Conferencier (MC) and Mogens Eggemann as Kit-Kat girl extraordinaire, Frenchie.

(Photo: Jan Wirdeier)

(Photo: Jan Wirdeier)

(Photo: Jan Wirdeier)

Based on the novel ‘Goodbye To Berlin’ by Christopher Isherwood and John van Druten’s ‘I am a Camera’, with music and lyrics by  John Kander & Fred Ebb, Cabaret’s depiction of life in early 1930’s Berlin is a modern classic and as relevant today as ever.

A must-see for Berlin visitors and residents alike.

July 4th to August 30th 2014

Tickets €20 to €59.50

http://www.tipi-am-kanzleramt.de/en/cabaret-the-musical/

Tickets can also be reserved by phone or email

030-390 665 50

karten[at]tipi-am-kanzleramt.de

Use the keyword “Brendan Nash” for 20% discount on tickets

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Happy Birthday Mr. Bachardy

The portrait artist Don Bachardy is 80 today.

Donald Jess Bachardy was born on May 18th 1934 in Los Angeles.  In February of 1953, he met the British writer Christopher Isherwood, 30 years his senior, and they began a relationship that would last 33 years right up to the writer’s death in 1986.

He studied at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and the Slade School of Art in London, where he had his first solo exhibition, at the Redfern Gallery, in October 1961.

He has since exhibited in solo shows across North America and his work is in the permanent collections of Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the MH de Young Museum of Art in California and the National Portrait Gallery in London.

 

He still lives in Santa Monica, California in the house that he and Christopher Isherwood moved into over 50 years ago and has a studio there where he continues to draw and paint most days.

In September 2013, he travelled to Berlin for the first time and visited the apartment at Nollendorfstrasse 17, where Christopher Isherwood lived and wrote about during his time in Berlin, in the closing years of the Weimar Republic.

Don at Christopher’s window, Nollendorfstraße 17, September 2013 (pic: Brendan Nash)

Exterior of Nollendorfstraße 17, September 2013 (Pic: Brendan Nash)

Don Bachardy and Brendan Nash, Soho Theatre London, September 2013 (Pic: Katrina Buchanan)

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