Heinz Sommerfeld-Transport Ek no. 1458 (28. 09. 1944, Terezín -> Auschwitz)

Heinz

Around this time of year many 17 year old kids are getting ready for school exams. And although they may think it is unfair that they have to sit for hours and hours, to do their exams(I know I thought it was unfair). They don’t actually realize how lucky they are.

Education, even though it is a basic human right.it is not a certainty and it should be seen as a privilege when it is given to you.

I am sure Heinz Sommerfeld would have loved to have done his exams when he was 17, but he never got the chance. His biggest worry was staying alive, and because of an evil regime he did not succeed in that either.

He was born in Berlin on March 26th, 1927. On January 5th, 1939, aged 11, he  came to the Netherlands as a refugee without his parents on a  Kindertransport. (children’s transport)

Kinder

When he arrived in the Netherlands he was first in an orphanage in Amsterdam, but in November 1939 he was put in foster care with the Lipschits family in Maastricht . However a few months after the Nazis invaded the Netherlands he was moved again to an orphanage, this time in Utrecht.

In February 1942 he was deported to Westerbork. On January 20th, 1944 he was put on the train to Theresienstadt, from where he was deported to Auschwitz on September 28th, 1944 on transport 1458. A total of 2499 persons were registered on that transport. Heinz was one of them.

The train arrived in Auschwitz on September 29th,1944. What happened to the other 2498 I don’t know, but Heinz was murdered in the gas chambers upon arrival.

He was murdered not because he was bad but because he was perceived to be different, He was Jewish that was enough for the Nazis to kill him.

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The weird case of Violette Morris

viole

Of all stories relating to spies and collaborators during WWII this most be one of the most intriguing ones.

When I first read about Violette Morris and saw the date she died,26 April 1944, I assumed she was killed for being a member of the French resistance. Why I thought that I don’t know.

Born in France on 18 April 1893. She was a French athlete who won two gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Games in 1922 and the Women’s Olympiad in 1924.

violette

She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.

She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.

She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.

car

She married Cyprien Edouard Joseph Gouraud on 22 August 1914 in Paris. They divorced in May 1923. She had served in World War I as a military nurse during the Battle of the Somme and a courier during the Battle of Verdun.

Although she had been married, she was attracted to women.

Her motto was “Anything A Man Can Do, Violette Can Do, Too”

Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France.

In 1928, she was refused license renewal by the Fédération française sportive féminine and as a result was not allowed to compete in the 1928 Olympic Games.

Despite her being openly gay she had a big fan in Adolf Hitler. This one of the anomalies in the Nazi policies,according to the Nazi doctrine women could not be gay.

In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

1936

She provided the Nazi regime in Germany  with partial plans of the Maginot Line, detailed plans of strategic points within the city of Paris, and schematics of the French army’s main tank, the Somua S35. Her information was vital to the German invasion of Paris in 1940.

tank.JPG

After the Nazi invasion, Morris remained close to the Germans and started working for the French Gestapo, the Carlingue. She had the nickname, ‘The Hyena of the Gestapo,’ because apparently she got a lot of sadistic pleasure by torturing people and extracting information.

On 26 April 1944, when she went for a  drive in her Citroën Traction Avant car with two friends and their two children for a spin on a country road.

citoen

Her engine sputtered and the car came to a halt. Earlier tha day, the engine had been tampered with by  the French Resistance Maquis Surcouf group. Members of the group  then emerged from a hiding spot and opened fired on the car. Although Morris was the target, all five people in the car were killed. Morris’ body, riddled with bullets.

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Max Schmeling-defying an evil regime

mAX

Often the psyche of people is that they see what they want  to see. They see a headline or a picture and they will have made up their minds. There is no further need for more details on the background story, they have enough to work with and make up their own story.

For example people will see the picture of Max Schmeling above giving the Nazi salute and they will just assume that Max clearly was a Nazi sympathizer.

Or they see the picture below of Max Shchmeling being warmly received by   Adolf Hitler and immediately they will think that Max was one of Hitler’s best buddies and favourite sports man. But on both occasions they could not be much further from the truth.

Max and AH

Truth is that Max Schmeling also saw things but he did not like what he saw and refused to join the Nazi party, which would have consequences for him. Not only did he not join the Nazi party he also saved a few Jewish boys and refused to fire his Jewish boxing promoter Joe Jacobs.

Max was a world champion heavyweight fighter from Germany whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide political events because of their racial and international significance.

I will not go into Max’s boxing career. I will only focus on 2 matches ,both against the boxing legend Joe Louis.

On Friday 19, June 1936 Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA

KO

Less then 2 years later in the same venue on Wednesday 22, June 1938, Joe Louis got his revenge and beat Max Schmeling and took back the World Heavyweight Title. The fight had been  portrayed as the battle of the Aryan versus the Black, a struggle of evil against good .When Louis regained his title, Hitler took Schmeling’s defeat as an embarrassment to the nation.

In an interview in 1975 ,Schmeling remembered the defeat: “Looking back, I’m almost happy I lost that fight. Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.”

KO2

During the 1938 November Pogrom-Kristallnacht- Max hid the 2 sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin. He hid the 2 boys ,Henry and Werner, in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Schmeling had told the front desk of the Hotel that he was ill and was not to be disturbed.

After things had calmed down Schmeling helped the 2 boys flee the country. The boys escaped to the United States, where Henri got a great career in managing Hotels, including the Hilton in Las Vegas.Henri Lewin was convinced  that he and his brother owe their lives to Schmeling and he sincerely believed that Schmeling himself could have died for saving them.

In 1923 Schmeing had hired Jewish New York born boxing promoter Joe Jacobs. Hitler had demanded that Schmeling would fire Jacobs, Schmeling refused to do so.

Because his refusal of joining the Nazi party ,he was him drafted into the Paratroopers and was sent him on very dangerous missions.He did partake in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, where he was wounded in his right knee by mortar fire shrapnel during the first day of the battle. After recovering, he was dismissed from active service after being deemed medically unfit for duty because of his injury.

Max remained a close friend of Joe Louis and even paid for Joe’s funeral in 1981. and became a successful business man in Germany after the war. He had been hired by Coca Cola to run the company  in Germany, .

He only once gave the Nazi salute and regretted it for the remainder of his life. He died on February 2, 2005.

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When Hitler killed one of the best performers of his favourite music.

gOTTLIEB

All deaths during the Holocaust were awful but the death of Henriette Gottlieb is particularly poignant. Some sources say she died on January 2 1942, other sources say she died in 1943.

One thing that is fairly certain is that she died in the Lodz Ghetto.

Lodz

Henriette Gottlieb should have been known as one of the best Opera Sopranos ever but yet she all but forgotten.

Hitler’s favourite composer was Wagner ,Gottlieb was a particularly noted Wagnerian interpreter, and sang at the Bayreuth Festivals (1927-30)

She performed the Wagnerian role of Brünnhilde in the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris, in a 1928 performance of Der Ring der Nibelung.Following the Nazi ban on Jewish performers, she lived in Berlin until she was deported to the Łódź Ghetto ( in 1941. According most sources she was murdered in Lodz on January 2 1942.

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Sources

Opera Nederland

Wikipedia Germany

MUGi-Musik &Gender inm Internet.

 

A failure as a father

JG

If you would not know the man in the picture you would think that it was a loving family man, doting on his daughter.

However since we know the man is Joseph Goebbels, the dynamic of this picture changes.

Goebbels did portray himself as a good family man and a loving father, but clearly he had no comprehension what constitutes a good parent.

The job of a father,or mother for that matter, is to look after the well being of their children and provide them with a safe home. The child’s needs,health and safety  is what takes priority over everything and everyone else.

But both Joseph Goebbels and his wife failed in this. Their priority was the Nazi regime. So sick and twisted were they that they judged their children by their own(Joseph and Magda’s )standards.

Rather then ensuring their children would be safe and no harm would come to them, they decided to kill them, even though they had plenty of opportunities to smuggle their kids out of Berlin.

Both parents were to blame but since Joseph was the head of the family and one of Germany’s most powerful men it makes him nothing more than a failed Father.

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Execution was not enough

Plotzensee

Many opponents of the Nazi regime found their untimely death in Plotzensee prison. Those executed were German resistance fighter, but also Polish and French forced laborers, and many others.

A great number were executed by guillotine but on September 3 the guillotine was damaged beyond repair after an RAF raid. From then one the methods of executions were hanging or firing squad.

After execution, the bodies were released to Hermann Stieve, an anatomist at the medical college of what is now Humboldt University of Berlin. He and his  assistants dissected the bodies  for research purposes.

Herrman

Stieve had a particular  interest in the effects of stress on the menstrual cycle, and produced  230 papers based on this research, among them one that demonstrated that the rhythm method was not an effective method of preventing conception.

He received prison records which contained  information on how the women had reacted to their death sentences, and also how well they had adjusted to prison life, and the timing of their menstrual cycles.

One of his research subjects was Liane Berkowitz,a German resistance fighter of the Red Orchestra organisation.

Liane

Liane was arrested and sent to  the women’s prison on Barnimstraße, while she was pregnant.Her  daughter Irina was born on 12 April 1943 in prison. The grandmother took care of the child from July 1943.

Liane was executed on 5 August 1943,only 2 days away from her 19th birthday. Her remains were sent to Hermann Stieve.

Liane’s  daughter Irina died on 16 October 1943 in hospital in Eberswalde under suspicious circumstances.

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Captain Macheath- The story behind Mack the Knife.

knife

Mack the Knife is one of my favourite Jazz songs,  I love the Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong versions equally. It just doesn’t get cooler then that song, sung by those 2 performers, although Sammy Davis Jr, does a pretty cool rendition also.

Even though  I have admired this song for decades. it is only recently I discovered the actual history of the song. I always thought it was written in the 50s.

The song was composed in 1928 in Berlin by Kurt Weil amd Berolt Brecht provided the lyrics.

 

 

Both Weil and Brecht were Jewish and fled Germany in the early 30s for fear of persecution. They both ended up in the US, although Brecht eventually returned to East Berlin after the war.

They had written the music drama called “The Three penny Opera” which premiered in Berlin in 1928. The song Mack the Knife, or “Die Moritat von Mackie Messe” was part if that opera.

The character Mack the Knife is based on , the dashing highwayman Macheath, from John Gay’s   “The Beggar’s Opera ”

beggar

Although Macheath is a fictional character he is believed to be based on, or at least partially based on Jack Sheppard, an English thief and jail breaker, and also enjoyed the affections of a prostitute, but unlike the character in the song he despised violence.

The Macheath in Mack the Knife is compared with a shark, and it  tells tales of his  numerous  crimes like robberies, murders, rapes, and arson.

And the shark, it has teeth,
And it wears them in the face.
And Macheath, he has a knife,
But the knife can’t be seen.

The song was was translated in 1954 by Marc Blizstein. The nuances of Blitzstein’s  translations are different compared to the original.

Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear,
And he shows them pearly white
Just a jack-knife has Macheath, dear
And he keeps it out of sight.

jack knife

Leaving you with Bobby Darin’s version of the song.

 

 

 

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When Jules Verne bombed Berlin

Berlin_Le-Jules-Verne-va-pa

No this is not a long lost book written by Jules Verne, it is however a forgotten event which happened on June 7 1940, a few days after Germany  bombed Paris.

PARIS

The Jules Verne was the name of a Farman 223.4 airplane of the French Navy. Determined to revenge the bombing of the French capital,The French Air Ministry sent orders to Captain Daillière,capt dalliere who was then at an airfield in Bordeaux with the Farmans.

most of the aircraft in the French air force were obsolete and had already been destroyed by the Luftwaffe.

The operation really was noting short of  a suicide mission,  but undeterred Daillière quickly developed a plan for a surprise attack that would take advantage of Jules Verne’s, a rather ungainly four-engine aircraft, only real strength: its exceptional range. He oversaw a number  of modifications to the aircraft at the Toussus-le-Noble airfield,  including the installment of a 7.5 mm Darne machine gun in the right rear access door, eight Alkan bomb shackles under the aircraft, a bomb sight, extra fuel tanks as well as an autopilot. Tricolores were also added.

On June 7, the Farman was fueled to capacity and loaded with eight 551-pound bombs and a case of 22-pound incendiaries. Daillière and his crew consisting of  flight engineer Corneillet, navigator Comet (who had crossed the Atlantic before the war), pilot Yonnet, radioman Scour and bombardier Deschamps. took off at 15:30 hours, heading north along the Atlantic coast.

verne3

The crew turned east, flying along the English Channel and slightly off the Belgian and Dutch coast and Northern Germany where, over the Schleswig island of Sylt, they encountered their first heavy AA fire. Jules Verne, flew low to avoid detection, then flew over a stretch of the North Sea and crossed southern Denmark,  wich had been occupied by Germany since April 1940. The bomber cruised over the Baltic Sea and turned south across a lonely stretch of the German coast.

As they headed south, they notice a glow on the horizon: Berlin. Daillière and his crew had expected the German capital would  have a wartime blackout in force, but  to their pleasant surprise it was as brightly lit . The Germans clearly did not  expect an air raid, and certainly not one coming from the direction of the Baltic sea. Approaching  the eastern suburbs around midnight, Jules Verne simulated a landing approach at Tempelhof Airport in the southern suburbs, then headed north to the Tegel area. They reached the Siemens-Werke within minutes, and while Yonnet dropped the bombload on the factory, Corneillet and Des champs pushed a dozen incendiary bombs out the passenger door.

Flying a straighter path back to France than the Jules Verne’s outbound route to Berlin, Dailliere made for Paris by crossing the very heart of Germany, and landed at Orly Airfield at 13:30 on June 8. .They had met no resistance on the return trip, and when the aircraft touched down, it had covered nearly 3,000 miles in 13.5 hours.

The French exaggerated the raid somewhat. They described it as having been accomplished by a “formation” of bombers, and reported – truthfully – that no bombers had been lost.

verne4

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The Brigitte Eicke Diary-A parallel universe

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This blog is not meant as an accusation it is merely meant to illustrate the differences of teenage life between German teenagers and the lives of teenagers who were considered sub human by the Nazi regime. the best way to describe it is a parallel universe.

Brigitte Eicke’s teenager account of life in wartime Germany illustrates  a complete different  perspective on the Nazi years.(shown on the right in the picture below)

BrigitteEicke(RGB)

In  many ways Brigitte was just a typical teenage girl, obsessed with her friends, first kisses with boys and trips to the cinema.

However  as a  resident of Berlin  in the pre-WWII and WWII years , Brigitte was a first-hand witness to one of the most turbulent chapters of modern history and crucially, at the age of 15, she began keeping a diary.

Below are some excerpts of her diary.

‘There were some Jewish girls in my first ever class photograph, taken in 1933, but by the time the next was taken, they were all gone. When I asked my mother about them, she said they had moved to Palestine.’

May 11th , 1944

“Went in BDM (Nazi girl guide) uniform to the Admirals palast to see Madame Butterfly. It was wonderful, my first opera”

February, 27, 1943

‘Waltraud and I went to the opera to see “The Four Ruffians.” I had a ticket for Gitti Seifert too. What a load of nonsense, it was ridiculous.

‘We walked back to Wittenbergplatz and got on the underground train at Alexanderplatz. Three soldiers started talking to us. Gitti is so silly, she went all silent when they spoke to her. The least one can do is answer, even though we weren’t going to go anywhere with them.

‘Jews all over town are being taken away, including the tailor across the road.’

1 February 1944

“The school had been bombed when we arrived this morning. Waltraud, Melitta and I went back to Gisela’s and danced to gramophone records.”

2 March 1945

“Margot and I went to the Admiralspalast cinema to see ‘Meine Herren Söhne.’ It was such a lovely film but there was a power cut in the middle of it. How annoying!”

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November 1944

She writes that she has just been given a “disastrous” perm by her hairdresser and is worried about going to work “looking a fright”.

A different perspective

July 20th, 1944

Brigitte Eicke: “Sunned myself on the roof. Failed assassination on the Führer. In the night we heard the speeches of the Führer, Dönitz and Göring. Wonderful.”

Anne Frank: “Great news! There was an assassination attempt on Hitler … Sadly, ‘divine providence’ saved the Führer’s life and he survived with a few grazes and scorch wounds.

August 1st, 1944

Brigitte Eicke: “It rained all day. We had a nap in the afternoon and were in bed already by 10. It’s a shame, such a waste of a lost evening.”

Anne Frank: “Dear Kitty! … I’ve often told you that my soul is divided in two. One side contains my boisterous happiness … (and) squeezes out the other, much nicer, side that is more pure and deep. Nobody knows the nice side of Anne…” [Anne’s final diary entry]

2 May 1945

Brigitte Eicke: “At 3am Frau Schöbs came into the cellar and said: the Führer is dead, the war is over. I could only let out a scream… we went on to the street and all the soldiers were withdrawing, it is so sad.”

RtWopah

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Sources

Irish Times

Der Spiegel

 

 

 

 

Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo.

Christiane_F_edel_lang

If there is one book and movie that should be in the curriculum of every secondary school it is Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo.

The most famous heroin addict was still a child when she entered into the drug world. Her descent to heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of West Berlin was turned into a book then a grim biopic in 1981.

This was also set in the background of the cold war and the divided city Berlin. Although East Berlin is always seen as a bleak place, the story of Christiane F. AKA Christiane Vera Felscherinow does paint a bleak picture of the Utopian version of West Berlin in the late 70s/early 80s.

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There are some that refer to its film adaption Christiane F. (1981) as the perfect piece of anti-heroin propaganda. Based on a true story, it’s a barren and hopeless depiction of youth lost – showing kids going through withdrawals and injecting in filthy public bathrooms. Immediately controversial on its release, some critics said the opposite – that it glamorised addiction, making teens think that a Bowie-soundtracked, opiate-induced haze is an ideal state of being.

Christiane Felscherinow was still a child when she became the most famous heroin addict in the world. Her descent, aged 13, into heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of West Berlin

Thanks to a cameo from David Bowie and all the footage of disturbingly young people injecting heroin, the film quickly became a cult hit. And it wasn’t long before the real Christiane F was catapulted from a life of shooting up and turning tricks in West Berlin’s public toilets to becoming the so-called “junkie princess,” injecting heroin while hanging out with artists and celebrities in Los Angeles.

Felscherinow was born in Hamburg, but her family moved to West Berlin when she was a child. They settled in Gropiusstadt, a neighbourhood in Neukölln that consisted mainly of high-rise concrete apartment blocks where social problems were prevalent.

High Rise Berlin

 

Felscherinow’s father frequently drank large volumes of alcohol and was abusive towards his two daughters while her mother was absorbed by an extra-marital relationship.

When she was 12 years old, she began smoking hashish with a group of friends who were slightly older at a local youth club. They gradually began using stronger drugs such as LSD and various forms of pills and she ended up trying heroin. By the time she was 14, she was heroin-dependent and a prostitute, mainly at West Berlin’s then-largest train station Bahnhof Zoo.

1024px-Berlin-_U-Bahnhof_Zoologischer_Garten-_U_2-_Bahnsteig-_Richtung_Ruhleben_7.8.2010

During this period, she became part of a group of teenage drug-users and sex workers of both sexes.

Two journalists from the news magazine Stern, Kai Hermann and Horst Rieck, met Felscherinow in 1978 in Berlin when she was a witness in a trial against a man who paid underaged girls with heroin in return for sex. The journalists wanted to disclose the drug problem among teenagers in Berlin, which was severe but also surrounded by strong taboos, and arranged a two-hour interview with Felscherinow. The two hours extended to two months, as Felscherinow provided an in-depth description of her life, as well as those of other teenagers, in West Berlin during the 1970s. The journalists subsequently ran a series of articles about her heroin use in Stern, based on the tape-recorded interviews with Felscherinow.

The interviews were extensive and the Stern publishing house eventually decided to publish the successful book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo in 1979. The book chronicles Felscherinow’s life from 1975 to 1978, between the ages of 12 and 15 years, and depicts several of Felscherinow’s friends, along with other drug users, as well as scenes from typical locations of the Berlin drug scene at the time. The narrative of the book is in the first person, from Felscherinow’s viewpoint, but was written by the journalists functioning as ghostwriters. Others, such as Felscherinow’s mother and various people who witnessed the escalating drug situation in Berlin at the time, also contributed to the book.

After the initial success of the book and the film, Felscherinow found herself becoming something of a celebrity, both in Germany and other countries in Europe. A subculture of teenage girls in Germany began to emulate her style of dress and spent time around the Bahnhof Zoo, which became an unlikely tourist attraction. This development concerned drug experts in the youth field, who feared that, despite the film’s bleakness and numerous drug-related scenes (particularly those portraying the reality of heroin withdrawal), vulnerable teens might regard Felscherinow as a cult heroine and role model.

Staying true to the real-life account of Christiane’s first experience taking heroin at a David Bowie concert in Berlin, the musician offered to make an unexpected cameo in one of the most iconic scenes of the film – singing “Station to Station” on the smoky stage of a performance hall (which was actually recorded in New York), as the character watched him from the audience.

christiane-f

The singer went on to be a big part of the film’s soundtrack, with “Heroes” becoming Christiane F.’s unofficial theme song, echoing through the halls as her and her friends run from the police. Bowie’s presence drew a lot of initially unexpected attention to the release, which would otherwise probably remain as a niche cult creation.

Bowie attended the premiere arm-in-arm with real-life Christiane – who later recounted how she had to take a lot of cocaine to get over her nerves, but also added the mystique disappeared in the light of real life.

Felschernirow contracted hepatitis C from an infected needle in the late 1980s. She suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and rejects interferon treatment because of the side effects.In 2013 Felschernirow stated: “I will die soon, I know that. But I haven’t missed out on anything in my life. I am fine with it. So this isn’t what I’d recommend: this isn’t the best life to live, but it’s my life”

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