Germans Hoard Staples, Skimp on Fun, Await Mark’s Collapse
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Germans Hoard Staples, Skimp on Fun, Await Mark’s Collapse

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Economists have dissected the economic fallacies of the Nazi policy and have shaken their heads as they predicted the imminent downfall of a regime so heretic; historians, with all the world in back of them, have indicated the inevitability of the overthrow of any government based on racial prejudice; psychologists have returned from the land of the Nazi to testify, as did Abraham Lincoln before them, that you “can’t fool all of the people all of the time” and politicians, sniffing rumors, as does the bloodhound, report that the political winds are wavering.

To make the picture unanimous a student of frivolity, a connoisseur of the box office, an expert in gaiety and a judge of the theatre returns to this country proclaiming that Berlin has gone to the dogs, that this formerly convivial and cosmopolitan capital has been thoroughly enervated in the process of Hitlerization and that the citizens of Berlin, fearful of another day when the mark is valued at a million to the dollar, have gone on a spending spree that extends to everything but the lighter things of life.


Wolfe Kaufman, a member of the editorial staff of Variety, the showman’s Bible, recently returned from Germany after a brief tour of investigation of Germany’s gay spots. He found the old town dead, its theatre wrecked, its night life a thing of the past. He found Berliners a group of worried persons afraid of the morrow. He found, in the midst of a spending spree, a most depressed citizenry. It seemed for all the world a city of persons condemned to be hanged the next morning.

Kaufman had known the Berlin of yesteryear; he knew things were not what they used to be but he little suspected they were what they are. The last German Jew, he found, is out of the film business in Germany and as a result the pictures have reached a new low. The German stage has been purged of its Jewish actors and as a result is in a state worse than the doldrums. The cabarets are lifeless, what few are open, and all of the girls are dyed blondes—for the Nazis, like the American men of a decade ago—prefer blondes. A brunette, it seems, might be mistaken for a Jewess and being in company with one might mean serious complications. The ladies, ever obliging, are blonde.


Money is being spent like water in Germany, but not for frivolity. The Germans are in a spending frenzy. They are buying anything of utility that might have a value when money hasn’t. One German, Kaufman noted, had bought eight bicycle tires for his one bicycle; another six winter overcoats.

“At first glance,” the Variety reporter told us the other day as we chatted in showland’s capital, “you’d think that at last, in Germany, you had discovered a prosperous country. But after a day or so, you note what the public is buying, things they have no use for, and you realize that they buy so they have anything but money.

“The Berliners I met are in a most nervous state. The Jews will talk to no one; the Gentiles will guardedly express their hopes and fears. Hitler is still popular but his advisors are looked upon with disfavor as though they had betrayed him.

“Militarism,” the Variety reporter continued, “is in the air. You can’t walk the streets, look out of your hotel window without seeing a parade. They seem to be an hourly occurrence, as regular as clockwork.


“News from the outside world is a highly valuable commodity in Berlin. The citizenry, aware of the internal censorship and suppression of news, is hungry for the true story. In accordance with all laws of human nature, people who never seriously read newspapers will now go to any lengths to get a Warsaw or Prague publication. A current newspaper is the first thing a visitor is asked for by a large part of the persons he meets.

“In this respect,” Kaufman said, “it is strange that most Germans don’t seem to know that foreign newspapers can be obtained at the newsstands that have always supplied this want. It is just proof of a new interest for the larger part of population.”

One of the outstanding things noted by the Variety reporter in his tour of things theatrical was the theatre of the Juedische Kulturbund (Jewish Culture Society). He calls it “the most exclusive and toughest to crash theatre in the world.”

The organization is permitted to function by special dispensation of the Hitler regime on the promise, solemnly given and rigidly adhered to, that no “Aryans” will |attend the performance.


“In order to attend a performance,” Kaufman said, “I had to obtain the guarantee and endorsement of three prominent Berlin Jews. To secure entrance one needs a bona fide stamped, checked and double-checked membership card of the Kulturbund, each card bearing a photograph of the bona fide bearer. Out of towners find it almost impossible to attend the performance. I was very lucky to gain admittance.

“But when one does gain admittance, it is well worth all the trouble. The reason being that the dramatic performances are made up of some of the finest actors in Europe. Before Hitler, eighty percent of the German stage talent was Jewish; now this small theatre, and a few similar ones scattered throughout the country, chooses its cast from this plethora of talent.

“The performances are so good that the fame of this theatre has passed around Berlin’s non-Jewish quarter with some embarassing results. Requests for entry and admissions are coming more and more frequently from ‘Aryans.’ To see a good show in Berlin, the theatre lover has to go to the theatre of the inferior Jew. But the troupe and its management are adamant since infraction of the rules might result in the organization Iosing its license. Few, if any ‘Aryans,’ have thus ##vished this artistic treat upon themselves.”


Of the movies, Kaufman said:

“Ufa, principle German film company, continues the production of cinemas. And though they don’t only produce propaganda films, their productions are uniformly poor as a result of the loss in talent and the emasculation of censorship, both before and after production, by Herr Goebbels’ henchmen of the Propaganda Ministry.

“Hans Albers, biggest male draw in Germany for many years, is the latest of the German stars to leave Ufa. He broke his contract a few weeks ago and walked out because his wife is a Jewess. Dorothea Wiecke is coming back from Hollywood and her arrival is widely looked forward to. The Hollywood flop will return to Germany a triumphant hero.

“Ufa,” Kaufman reports, “is not Nazified. It bows to Nazi dictation but because of its size and importance it is allowed to continue along its own way, except, of course, for consorship.” Another reason, probably, for this cause of action is that Hugenberg, Ufa head, is still a power in Germany, even out of the Hitler cabinet.

It was readily apparent that Kaufman was not sorry to get back to his beloved Broadway. The gossip of the Main Stem that Variety eats up, the endless routine of reviewing and even the Broadway pests, of which there is an unlimited supply, were a welcome change to a Variety “mugg” returned. And besides, he was anxious to put some final licks on a Broadway novel, ### Cheeks,” his first, which ### Friede will publish this September.

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