21 April 2012

Marlene's first visit to Warsaw, 16th January 1964.

Hello! My name is Ewa and I want to bring you to all materials connected to Dietrich which were written in Polish, as few people worldwide know it and therefore it's hard for them to get more information about Marlene.

Lots of facts here are based on wonderful book Marlene by Angelika Kuźniak. If it's ever published in English, you should read it!

She took a trip via plane, arrived with 35 pieces of luggage. Kuźniak has found a list of what one of the suitcases contained: there were furs, night gowns, scarfs, hats, shoes and much more. She had lots of clothes prepared for really low temperatures, which aren't typical for weather in Poland. Later she said that at Dior they had made her buy a fur as they had been so convinced winter in this part of Europe is severe.

She arrived at Warsaw airport just after 6 p.m. After she was transported into "Europejski" Hotel, she was disgusted. Her room was not warm enough and closets not big enough; so Pagart (Polish Art Agency) transferred her to Hotel Bristol. It was very noisy, but overall acceptable--its Art Deco elegance seemed to be a good choice. After she had disinfected the bathrooms, there was the time for press conferences, which she disliked - as she used to put it, "always the same questions" were asked.

People in hotel had observed that Marlene's day-to-day routine in Warsaw always included eating breakfast (with a sip-or more-of champagne,of course), writing letters and rehearsing at the Buffo Theatre. Her stage preparations included putting on make-up, eyelashes from Anker & Lovbo of Copenhagen, placing the sterile needles to lift up her face, putting on a dress and a coat made of swans' down.

Her first concert took place on 18th January in Sala Kongresowa, one of Poland's captial's most sumptous places. Before Dietrich's, there was a performance of Czesław Niemen with his band Niebiesko-Czarni; they were extremely popular at that time. Dietrich was under charm of his song "Czy mnie jeszcze pamiętasz"("Do you still remember me"); later, she used it's melody, wrote the words and performed it many times under the title "Mutter, hast du mir vergeben". I've found nice video about this:

The concerts were a big success. The effect was admired overall by 18 000 people-within few days. (Apart from performances at Kongresowa, she sang few songs in medical students' club-what a shame I didn't live back there, nowadays these clubs are so bad..!).

During her last concerts, she addressed the audience, thanked them and said she was touched and full of awe for polish courage during war. Marlene wrote down in her notebook that she has never experienced such warmth from any audience as from Polish one. She received many letters from fans, lots of them referred to war times, as Marlene anti-Nazi attitude was (and still is) very appreciated in country that had been invaded by Hitler. Dietrich showed some interest in war history, she visited lots of monuments commemorating what had happened between 1939 and 1945. She said she felt guilty for the German nation and glad that Warsaw was still standing, despite the fact that Hitler had wanted its complete destruction.

A total amount of 150 photos were taken during her performances, but no one has ever seen them, 'cause Dietrich hated them and tore them up, refusing to pay the photographer ;) She left Warsaw on the 22nd of January.


  1. Merci, Ewa! There are many reports about Dietrich's other shows throughout her career, but not so many in English about her shows in Poland. I'm glad we can give that marginalized history some attention here.

    About the House of Dior, it propagated perceptions of the U.S.S.R. as a fashionless land in that 1959 Life photo spread, so it wouldn't surprise me that its shopgirls would convince clients that Poland was an icebox.

    How did Kuźniak get so many specific details about Dietrich--including even her eyelash brand? Also, if you want, you can certainly add a Polish version of your text to this post.

  2. No wonder U.S.S.R was propagated as fashionless land, because it certainly was. Good fact is that since 1989 Poland has been out of them-both U.S.S.R and "fashionlessness" :D

    Kuźniak has spent many,many days contacting as many people that had contact with Marlene in 1964 as possible. Hotel staff, airport staff, people who organised concerts and who helped backstage; everyone of them have had something to share. Her work is amazing!

    Currently, there's no Polish version of this text, as I was originally writing in English and I've taken care not to just tranlate the book or other sources; I've summed up many pieces of information I've found and stared writing on my own. However, if anyone still would like this text in Polish, I can translate it. :-)

    1. Niemen looks pretty groovy to me.:D It's okay not to have Polish. I've seen some blogs with multilingual text, and I've always wondered whether that appealed to people who aren't native English speakers.