Posts Tagged ‘German’

Claire Waldoff – Quintessential Ur-Berliner

Monday, November 13th, 2017

 

Often referred to as an Ur-Berliner (the epitome of a Berliner), Claire Waldoff (1884-1957) was one of Berlin’s most popular cabaret singers and entertainers during the 1910s and 1920s. She sang in the straight-down-to-the-point Berlinisch – the Berlin dialect – known to combine heart with unabashed bluntness. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlinisch-dialect-of-the-berliner In reality, Claire Waldoff wasn’t from Berlin at all. She arrived in the city when she was in her early twenties and took to Berlin like a fly to flypaper. You might say, she became a Berliner to the core.

Claire Waldoff’s Rise and Fall

Born as Clara Wortmann in Gelsenkirchen, a town in the northern part of Germany’s industrial area, Waldoff was the eleventh child in a family of 16. She wanted to become a physician, but the family didn’t have the money to pay for her studies. As an alternative, she she chose singing and acting. In 1906, Claire Waldoff visited Berlin and was immediately captivated by the city’s cosmopoletan style and temperament. Initially, she played in some minor roles until she landed a singing engagement at a nightclub, called Roland von Berlin. That was in 1908. In a dress bought on credit, flaming red hair, gravelly voice, one eyebrow mockingly raised, cursing and smoking cigarettes on stage, she became a star overnight. Her friends included many prominent artists, such as Marlene Dietrich, with whom she performed on stage.

Audiences loved Claire Waldoff. She usually wore a simple blouse along with a tie and slacks. One of her famous songs was Ach Jott, Wat Sind Die Maenner Dumm (Oh, God, How Stupid Men Are). For a first recording on Gramophone, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3keVMxe71U

After coming to power in 1933, the Nazis quickly banned Claire Waldoff’s appearances because many of her composers and lyricists were Jewish. Besides, they considered her songs too suggestive. It was also no secret that Waldoff lived and operated a gay-lesbian-salon with her long-time lesbian partner, Olga “Olly” von Roeder. Following World War II, Claire Waldoff lost all of her savings in the West German monetary reform of 1948 and was forced to live on a meager pension, provided by the City of Berlin.

Claire Waldoff Remembered

A monument, created by Reinhard Jacob, and located in front of the Friedrichstadt-Palast immortalizes Berlin’s sassy cabaret singer. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/friedrichstadt-palast-berlins-top-revue-theater/

Claire Waldoff monument, located in front of the Friedrichstadt-Palast, Berlin. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Claire Waldoff monument, located in front of the Friedrichstadt-Palast, Berlin. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

8 ways to fight a cold the German way

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Have you been catching too many colds lately? Were you able to stop that developing sore throat in its tracks? What about bringing down that nasty fever? If you haven’t been successful, why not add some new approaches to your repertoire? Here are eight ways the Germans fight these minor calamities. Maybe some of their approaches will work for you, too.

  1. Germans fight the common cold by drinking boiled beer. They believe that the antiviral properties in hops knock down a cold. That sounds like a good reason to have a beer, doesn’t it?

 

  1. Germans fight a fever by wrapping a damp, lukewarm cloth around their calves. They swear it reduces the body temperature faster than a damp cloth on the forehead. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Why not try it?

 

  1. Germans fight a sore throat by wearing a warm scarf around the neck. However, scarfs, worn by women as well as men, also happen to be the current haute couture. That makes it a little tricky to tell a sick person from a fashion-conscious one.

 

  1. Germans try to stave off colds, influenza and a sore neck by avoiding drafts. Drafts are a big deal. I remember my mother yelling almost on a daily basis, “close the door, the window is open!” Outdoor gusts are healthy. A draft is a killer. You figure.

 

  1. Germans fight the queasiness that follows diarrhea or vomiting by eating pretzel sticks or twice-baked biscuits, called “Zwieback.” They are filling and tasty. Give them a try.

 

  1. Germans fight congestion by taking a hot water bath, laced with salts of chamomile. A hot bath in any way, shape or form sounds always good to me.

 

  1. Germans soothe a cough by drinking a cup of warm milk with honey.

 

  1. Germans fight viral infections by drinking the juice of boiled onions. That one I could probably do without.

 

To find out whether these approaches are based on hard science or anecdotal folk medicine, check out Conor Dillon http://www.dw.de/top-stories/germany/s-1432

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.