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22. December 2023

A photo of the century with Margot Friedländer

At the end of 2023, a very moving and meaningful event took place at the Palast: Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer visited for a real “photo of the century”. The 102-year-old is pictured with two other “centenarians”: the Palast with its 104 years of stage history and the kickline, the theatre’s hallmark dance since 1924, which will have been performed at the Palast for 100 years in 2024.

 

Margot Friedländer heads the 32-person kickline on the world’s biggest theatre stage, as photographed by Lukas Korschan on 15 December 2023. Costume design for the kickline: Jean Paul GAULTIER.

 

A German Jew whose family was murdered and barely survived the Holocaust herself. A Palast with Jewish roots that became the largest propaganda and operetta theatre of the Third Reich – and today stands for freedom, diversity and democracy. Its hallmark dance since the “Golden Twenties”: the 32-person kickline, a tradition that was also established by a German Jew. A photo brimming with history and poise.
Particularly in the current times, it is also a photo of hope: Today, 30 women and two gender-fluid people of all skin colours, all ways of loving and all religions – from Christianity to Judaism to Islam – perform in the kickline. People from 28 nations work at the Palast, including from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus as well as from Israel and Arab countries.

The Palast’s ensemble is a great example for Margot Friedländer’s unwavering appeal to humanity: “We are all the same – there is no Christian, Muslim or Jewish blood. There is only human blood. So be human!”
This “photo of the century” was taken by Lukas Korschan on 15 December 2023, the last day and climax of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights. The photo shoot was followed by a personal meeting with the Ensemble and a discussion between Margot Friedländer and General Director Berndt Schmidt in the main ballet hall.

 

Margot Friedländer in conversation with Berndt Schmidt and the Palast staff, as photographed by Lukas Korschan on 15 December 2023 in the Palast’s large ballet hall.

 

Berndt Schmidt on creation of the photo: “As a young woman, Margot was herself an extra in a theatre during the Nazi era as part of what was then the Jewish Cultural Association. She loves culture, the Palast and our revue shows. Which is why I gifted her the ‘photo of the century’ brimming with centenary stories for her 102nd birthday: a strong, resolute woman at the head of strong women and gender-fluid people. We will hang a large copy of this picture up in our Palast so that this radiantly beautiful woman will remain with us always and forever. The picture is also a daily reminder of Margot’s mission to stand in solidarity with minorities. Only where diversity can flourish is there freedom.”

 

A film crew also accompanied this iconic moment on the Palast stage. The outcome is an emotional two-minute video containing some truly inspirational words from Margot Friedländer:

 

Historical background to the three “centenarians”:

The Palast’s history began on 29 November 1919 with opening of the Großes Schauspielhaus theatre by Jewish theatremaker Max Reinhardt. In 1934, Joseph Goebbels (whose Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda controlled the largest theatre in the Reich directly) renamed it the Theater des Volkes (Theatre of the People). The theatre has been known as the Friedrichstadt-Palast since 1947.

Margot Friedländer was born in Berlin on 5 November 1921, two years after the Großes Schauspielhaus first opened. She worked in forced labour, had to remain in hiding for a long time and ultimately managed to survive the Holocaust in Theresienstadt concentration camp. Her father, mother and brother Ralph were all murdered in Auschwitz. She is an honorary citizen of the State of Berlin and a recipient of the German Federal Cross of Merit 1st Class.

The row of dancers today known as the kickline has been a hallmark of the Palast since 1924. This tradition was established by Erik Charell, a gay German Jew.

Fascinating fact: Max Reinhardt brought a certain Marlene Dietrich to the stage for the first time in 1922 – at the Großes Schauspielhaus. At the time, she was still an unknown. Erik Charell also used her as a revue dancer and actress in his plays from 1924. Dietrich later became a staunch opponent of National Socialism. The fact that both Marlene and Margot have stood on our stage is an absolute honour, compass and obligation for us.

 

Margot Friedländer signs her autobiography, as photographed by Lukas Korschan on 15 December 2023 in the Palast’s large ballet hall.

Book tip | Margot Friedländer’s autobiography: “Try to make your life”: www.rowohlt.de/buch/margot-friedlander-malin-schwerdtfeger-versuche-dein-leben-zu-machen-9783644104815

Book tip | History of the Palast during the Third Reich: “Dein Tänzer ist der Tod”: www.bebraverlag.de/verzeichnis/berlin/titel/dein-taenzer-ist-der-tod.html

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Recommended by 96% of reviewers

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2024-07-18 15:27:38 | 1721316458