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History Podcast: Parties, drugs, sinful shows – Berlin celebrated so wildly a hundred years ago


In the 1920s, Berlin was considered the cultural capital of the world. And also when partying. In the podcast interview, Fiona Ehlers tells how night turned into day back then.

"I've been in Berlin for eight days now," wrote the French painter Fernand Léger when he visited the city in the 1920s, "didn't notice anything about the night." Instead, Léger continues, you see: "Light at six o'clock, um Midnight at four o'clock, continuous light."

At that time, Berlin not only electrified neon signs and cinema facades, boulevards and dance palaces like no other city in Germany - but also the cultural creators and pleasure seekers.

At that time, the metropolis of four million people was not only considered the largest industrial city in Europe, it was also the world cultural capital, so to speak.

To this day, the »longing decade« of the years around 1920 is celebrated in Berlin - at costume parties, with historical dances and music, in the style of a hundred years ago.

With the help of a historical city guide, Fiona Ehlers, who herself lived in Berlin for many years, rediscovered her city from scratch.

However, as she says about the ongoing nostalgia for the 1920s in the capital: »The danger of this tracking down is that a lot is also glorified.«

Because where there was light, there were of course also shadows: while some celebrated glamorously, many other people suffered from bitter hunger and misery.

In the face of rampant unemployment, they were often only able to keep their heads above water by engaging in prostitutes or other illegal businesses.

"One aftertaste of my research was how terribly dark this decade must have been," says Fiona Ehlers.

About the podcast

Every two weeks there is a selected historical article and the story behind it - told by the authors and the editors of SPIEGEL History.

You can also listen to a detailed discussion on the cover topic of every new issue of SPIEGEL History.

You can find all other podcast episodes here.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-08-09

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