Marlene Dietrich(actually Maria Magdalene)

Marlene Dietrich: suitcase
Marlene Dietrich on the “MS Bremen” on her first trip to the US in 1930
Deutsche Kinemathek – Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin, © Ingrid Peckskamp-Lürßen

Marlene Dietrich(actually Maria Magdalene)

Es ist kein leichter Entschluß, seine Nationalität zu wechseln, selbst dann nicht, wenn man die Ansichten und Methoden, die das Geburtsland plötzlich gutheißt, verachtet. Auch wenn man sich das Gegenteil einzureden versucht: all das verleugnen zu müssen, was man als Kind zu ehren lernte, gibt einem das Gefühl von Treulosigkeit. Die Liebe und Achtung für das Land, das einen aufgenommen hat, haben damit nichts zu tun.

[It is not an easy decision to change your nationality, even if you suddenly despise the opinions and methods that your birthplace espouses. Even if you try to persuade yourself of the opposite: to have to repudiate everything that as a child you learned to honour, it makes you feel disloyal. The love and respect for the country that has welcomed you has nothing to do with this. (ed. trans.)]

Marlene Dietrich, Marlene Dietrich’s ABC, key word: Nationality

Bornon 27 December 1901 in Berlin
Diedon 6 May 1992 in Paris/France
ExileUnited States of America, France
ProfessionActress, Singer

Marlene Dietrich was never a political artist, nor did she flee the Nazis to the American continent. And yet she was consistent in her opposition to Hitler’s Germany and her support for the United States. 

The actress and singer, whose Prussian education was evident throughout her life in her strict self-discipline, became one of the few German world stars at the beginning of the 1930s with the film The Blue Angel. She went to Hollywood with her director and the man who discovered her, Josef von Sternberg, and they produced seven films together. The German government made multiple attempts to bring her back; even Joseph Goebbels is said to have been involved. But Marlene Dietrich detested the “Third Reich” and its ideology and after Hitler came to power she only went to Austria or France when she visited Europe. In 1937 she applied to become a U.S. citizen and moved permanently to the U.S. Permanent residence in the USA was a requirement for citizenship. She officially became an American in 1939.

The Berlin native took a clear position in the war between her new and old homes. She toured for years in the United States and Europe to promote war bonds and to entertain the American troops. Her German audience could not forgive these actions. She was spat and booed at performances in Germany in 1960.