Old black-and-white films of pre-Second World War Berlin remind us that the city’s central Potsdamerstrasse was once one of the most popular streets in Europe. It used to be awash with fashionable restaurants, bars and cafés, many of which were frequented by the continent’s artistic elite. But Hitler, the war and the Berlin Wall, which bisected it, destroyed its ambience completely.
After German reunification, big efforts were made to recreate a modern Potsdamerstrasse. Nowadays it claims to be the capital’s “home of cinema”. To underline the fact, five years ago the centre of the Potsdamerstrasse was painted red. It was an attempt to emulate the red carpets used by the stars of stage and screen. It was a publicity stunt which attracted minimal attention. However the investors who have poured money into the Potsdamerstrasse in the hope of attracting tourists will not let themselves be defeated so easily. Their latest idea is Marlene Dietrich, the German actress who rejected Hitler for Hollywood, helped in the American war effort and spent nearly all of her latter life in Paris. Peer into the three dimensional “photo boxes” recently put up on steel poles that now line the street, and the visitor can see La Dietrich in full evening attire.