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Thursday, 13 September 2012

A visit to Berlin

Tuesday, September 13th., Berlin.

Visiting Berlin in a party consisting of  Beaverbrook, Venetia Montagu, Lord Castlerosse (Daily Express journalist),  Diana Cooper, and myself.

William Maxwell "Max" Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, Bt, PC, ONB, (25 May 1879 – 9 June 1964) was an Anglo-Canadian business tycoon, politician, and writer. Lord Beaverbrook held a tight grip on the British media as an influential Press Baron, owning The Daily Express newspaper, as well as the London Evening Standard and theSunday Express. His political career included serving as a Minister in the British Government during both world wars.
He was an influential and often mentioned figure in British society of the first half of the 20th century.




Beatrice Venetia Stanley Montagu (22 August 1887 – 3 August 1948) was a British aristocrat and socialite best known for the many letters that Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith wrote to her between 1910 and 1915. After converting to Judaism, Venetia married Edwin Samuel Montagu, a Liberal MP, on 26 July 1915. Venetia's marriage to Montagu lasted nine years until his premature death in 1924. Despite the birth of a daughter in 1923, Venetia was unhappy in her marriage. She had affairs with Lord Beaverbrook and others.


We set off on Friday on the SS Deutschland and arrived here on Sunday. The Deutschland is only a 20,000 ton ship but looked enormous when we boarded her at Southampton.

SS Deutschland
Yesterday, before dinner, Max gave a full account of the rise of Baldwin. I wanted this for my first political article. It was a marvellous narrative and full of meat for me. All of us were enthralled.

This morning I went out with Kommer to Charlottenburg to buy books and things. I bought a few German books and some good coloured reproductions of Cezanne, Seurat etc., very cheap. Lunch with Castlerosse, Sinclair Lewis, Bartch of Ufa (a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945), and three American journalists - all very agreeable.



Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951) was an American novelist,short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." 



No time for sleep. We went at 4 to Potsdam to see Sans Souci.

The Sanssouci palace was the summer residence of Frederick the Great. Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff built it above the terraced vineyard from 1745 to 1747 following the King's ideas and sketches. The palace is considered the major work of Rococo architecture in Germany. Paintings by Watteau, Panini and Pesne are on exhibit in the picture gallery. 




Fine avenues thither, speed-roads etc. Back at 6.25. The girls, Kommer and I went to 'Piscator's' communistic play "Hoppla wir leben" at the Rollenplatz Theatre.

Oops, We're Alive! (German: Hoppla, wir leben!) is a Neue Sachlichkeit (or "New Objectivity") play by the German playwright Ernst Toller. Its second production, directed by the seminal epic theatre director Erwin Piscator in 1927, was a milestone in the history of theatre

Scene from Hoppla wir leben, directed by Erwin Piscator, Berlin, 1927
Interesting perspective on our party by Sefton Delmer:

Sefton Delmer and Lord Beaverbrook, Berlin, 1927

Lord Beaverbrook was not alone when I entered. He was surrounded by the other members of his party: the novelist Arnold Bennett, whom I described in my diary at the time as "sardonic, silent and sallow"; Sunday Express columnist, Lord Castlerosse, "fat, flushed and chortling, a vast cigar sticking out under his arched Edwardian nose"; Mrs. Venetia Montagu, "gracious, erect and smiling"; and Lady Diana Cooper, "brilliant, brittle and blonde, with the palest watery blue eyes".
They all called Lord Beaverbrook 'Max'. I gathered they had come to Berlin in connection with some film which Arnold Bennett was to write, Lady Diana was to star in, and Lord Beaverbrook would finance. I answered telephone calls, took messages in German, replied to questions about Berlin night life. I listened in awe as Lord Beaverbrook, talking to his managers in London, made lightning calculations in his head about the price of the newsprint he was ordering. I ran errands.
For Bennett I went out and bought a stack of the homosexual and nudist magazines I had told him about. No sooner had I given them to him than Lord Castlerosse also wanted a set. I could see wonder about me in the eyes of the woman at the news stand on the Potsdamerplatz, as she sold me the second lot. When I called for the third which Lord Beaverbrook then ordered all her doubts about me had been dispersed. She was certain now of my category. 

Denis Sefton Delmer (born 24 May 1904, Berlin, Germany Рdied 4 September 1979,Lamarsh, Essex) was a British journalist and propagandist for the British government. Fluent in German, he became friendly with Ernst Röhm who arranged for him to interview Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. During the Second World War he led a black propaganda campaign against Hitler by radio from England and he was named in the Nazi's Black Book for immediate arrest after their invasion of England.

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