After visiting her final resting place a couple of years ago, I wondered where Marlene Dietrich was born in Berlin. After visiting the Gasometer in Schöneberg in the same neighborhood, I managed to find an answer to that question.
Marlene Dietrich Early Life in Berlin-Schöneberg
Marlene Dietrich was born on what was known as Sedanstrasse 53; later, the street changed its name to Leberstrasse. The neighborhood is nicknamed the Rote Insel due to its left-wing leaning. Her father was a policeman, but he died when she was still a child. Her mother married again, this time to an aristocratic first lieutenant that died during the First World War.
As a child, her family nicknamed her “Lene” and combined this with her real name to become the Marlene the world knew. She studied at the Victoria-Luise-Schule in Wilmersdorf and learned how to play the violin. As a teenager, she was interested in poetry, theater, and music. But after hurting her wrist, she gave up her dreams of becoming a concert violinist.
In 1930, she appeared in The Blue Angel, and her rise to fame started. She moved to Hollywood, and her relationship with Germany was never the same. She was invited by Adolf Hitler to return to Berlin and work here, but she thought he was an idiot and took a strong anti-Nazi position, and her movies were banned in Germany.
In July 2008, Berlin decided to celebrate Marlene Dietrich’s history with the city, and a commemorative plaque went up in from of the place she was born. As one of the most famous daughters of the town, it’s great to see a memorial to her as a way to preserve her legacy as an artist and a robust anti-fascist pacifist.