20 April 2011

Marlene Feels Angry Chorus Over Her Trip To Germany Not Sensible

by Art Buchwald 8 April 1960

PARIS - In three weeks time Berlin-born Marlene Dietrich faces the toughest audience she has ever appeared in front of in her life - the German people. Miss Dietrich, who is in Paris now being fitted for clothes by Christian Dior and Balenciaga for her show, has been the subject of controversy ever since she announced that, as part of a concert tour in May, she was going to play six cities in Western Germany - Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Cologne. The West German press has been full of stories and letters to the editor, complaining about the visit. Miss Dietrich told us yesterday at lunch she couldn't understand it.

"When I appeared in Paris four months ago the German concert managers came begging me to play in Germany. They offered me a guarantee of $ 4 000 a performance, more money than I've been paid anywhere, including Las Vegas. I assumed that if hey were willing to pay that kind of money, the Germans wanted to see me. Now the German papers are bringing up all the old things. They say I wore an American uniform during the war, which I did. They say I wore a French uniform when I marched up to the Arc de Triomphe in a parade in 1955 which I didn't. I did march and I did rekindle the flame over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but I was wearing an American Legion hat and a blue raincoat.

"I don't understand it. Before the war I was attacked by Goering for becoming an American citizen. After the war I was attacked by the German press because I wouldn't come to Germany, and now they're attacking me because I am going. The logic escapes me."

"If you had known there was going to be this uproar would you have agreed to play in Germany?"

"No. I wouldn't have agreed. I'm not a masochist. I only agreed because I thought they wanted me. I decided as long as I was going to tour Europe I would include Germany in the tour.

"I'm not afraid of my reception as a performer. My act has gone over wherever it has played. But I hate to bee involved in politics. They're acting as if I was the only German who ever migrated to America. When the war was over they wanted me to go back to Germany and live there. Why should I have? I didn't become an American citizen just to stay out of Germany when there was trouble there. I became an American citizen for life. I would hate myself if I thought I became an American citizen just for convenience.

"The Germans now say I wore the uniform of the enemy. To them I may have, but I thought we were trying to forget all that.

"One German headline said, 'Marlene Dietrich says she can't forget Hitler.' Well, who can? They've even called me a traitor. I left Germany in 1930. After I made The Blue Angel the German producers had an option to pick up my contract. They didn't and that's why I came to the United States.

Miss Dietrich is feuding with her manager, Norman Granz, who set up the concert tour in Germany. Granz said in New York Miss Dietrich was considering cancelling her German tour because her astrologer told her if she went to Berlin she was going to die. Granz said if she did cancel, he was going to sue her.

Miss Dietrich said she had no intention of cancelling Germany, that an astrologer had told her no such thing, and if he had she wouldn't have paid any attention anyway.

"I'm going no matter what happens," she said.

"Suppose they give you a rough time?" we asked her.

"I always have the microphone," she said. "And I'll be ready for any situation. The only thing I fear is eggs."


"Yes, I have a coat made of swan's down and if an egg ever hits it I don't know what I'll do. You couldn't clean it in a million years."

Miss Dietrich hasn't been in Germany since she was there during the war.

"Do you have a lot of friends there?" we asked her.

"No," she said. "The German reporters have asked me whom I expect to see when I get to Germany and all I can say is that all my friends have either left or were killed in concentration camps."

Miss Dietrich added, "I'm going to Germany to entertain. I'm not going there to be put on trial, or become part of a de-Americanization proceedings. All I can add is peace to the world and I think everyone should visit everybody else."

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