Letters & Opinion

Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich corresponds with Maurice Frankenhuis requesting he provide vital data to Yad Vashem of names of victims.

Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer known for her humanitarian efforts during the war, housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and even advocating their American citizenship.

1st October, 1965.
Mr. Paul Breuer,
Advertising Director, B.O.A.C.,
Frankfurt on Main, GERMANY.

Dear Mr. Breuer,
In the national edition of the “New York Times” of 29th September last an article appeared with the headline:


Marlene Dietrich BOAC Ad (cancelled)

The advertisement, showing Marlene Dietrich seated in one of the airline seats to illustrate elegance and comfort, was not accepted for publication in German periodicals, the reasons for non-acceptance being given that (1) Miss Dietrich had acted during World War II as an entertainer of U.S. troops, and (2) she had been widely quoted in the German press after the war as having made anti-German statements.

This is correct, and I would like to inform you that the German nation should be proud that some Germans were actively condemning their compatriots for crimes committed during 1939-1945. I have the greatest admiration for this person.

At my disposal are figures showing proof of 55,000,000 people, including 6,000,000 Jews, being killed mercilessly. All these were civilians, and not military personnel. This was not war but murder – well-prepared and organised in advance.

As I said before, Miss Dietrich is a great personality and I would advise you to accept this advertisement, which could only help the cause of humanity and demonstrate a sincere desire to try to wipe out the bitter memory of crimes experienced never before in history.

Your truly,

M. Frankenhuis

Marlene Dietrich lighting eternal flame in Yad Vashem Hall of Remembrance
Letter from Marlene Dietrich to M. Frankenhuis

Paris March23 66

Dear Mr. Frankenhuis,

I am writing to your Newyork address because the letter
I have of yours written to B.O.A C frankfurt on October first gives this address as your permanent one.

Besides thanking you I want to ask you a very important
They are at present still engaged to provide the Germans ( believe it or not) with the names of the victims in order to prove the correct figure they claim the Nazi murdered. As entire families have been wiped out it is very difficult to produce all the names. IF YOU DON’T KNOW OF THIS INSTITUTE AND THEREFORE YOU HAVE NOT SENT IN THE NAMES OF THE VICTIMS YOU HAVE ” PROOF ” OF PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY. I, myself, did not know of YAD VASHEM . I sent all the litterature I brogght with me out but if you write to Dr. Gelber he will send you all the necessary details of the Institute. I lit the flame at the symbolic graveyard of the ” HEROS AND MARTYRS ” and I wish the world would know more about this monument to them.

My best wishes to you and please keep me informed.

M. Dietrich

April 1, 1966

Madame Marlene Dietrich 12, Avenue Montaigne 8e Paris, France

Dear Madame Dietrich:

It was a great honor to receive your letter of March 23 and to know that my protest last October to B.O.A.C. in Frankfurt a. Main reached you through their offices. It is my custom to catch such items in the press — as that concerning the airline’s prejudiced treatment of you — and to take some appropriate action. In the light of the tragic events of 1939-1945, I cannot do less.

As to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, I share your interest in the valuable work of this Institute. Indeed, I know them very well, having visited their office in Jerusalem a number of times. I am personally acquainted with some members of the staff. It is my intention to make this institution the beneficiary, after my death, of my extensive collec­tions of documents relating to World War II (1939-1945).

Also to the Museum Haaretz, Kadman Pavilion in Tel-Aviv, I have donated my collection of medals, medallions, etc., at present the largest collection extant, numbering over 2000 pieces. I am still engaged in augmenting it with pieces of the World War II period.

The documents collection, destined for Yad Vashem, is so voluminous that it cannot be processed all at one time, and I am planning to to transfer to the Institute whatever portions I can have ready from time to time. I have decided to go to Israel in June to discuss with the Institute people the best way to turn over the documents so that, in due time, the entire collection will be in their possession.

I plan to leave New York by El-Al on June 9 and depart from Tel-Aviv on June 23, via Rome for stopovers in Holland, England, Germany, etc. I visit these countries regularly once or twice a year in my quest for documents and memoranda of historical interest to add to my special collections.

Of course, I should be very glad, as you suggest, to cooperate with Yad Vashem in their efforts to provide the Germans with the names of the victims as proof of the correct figure of those murdered by the Nazis. As a former citizen of the Netherlands, I experienced the loss of my sister, brother-in-law and tens of relatives of my wife and myself who were taken by the Germans and brutally killed. It is only a miracle that my immediate family survived the holocaust after persecution and confinement in concentration camps.

You may be interested to know that the Netherlands Ministry of Justice has compiled and printed a series of lists, arranged alphabetically, which set forth the identity number, name, date and place of birth, last residence and the place (invariably a camp) where each was killed. There are about 100,000 Dutch Jews thus accounted for. I have all the lists that were issued beginning September 1949. These I am sure are also in the possession of the Yad Vashem which — as I read in the newspapers — received them from the Netherlands Ambassador to Israel, a few years ago. I will go into this subject with the Yad Vashem people which I call at their headquarters in June.

It is most gratifying to know of your interest and your efforts in keeping alive the memory of the millions of Jewish martyrs. I feel as you do: no one should become indifferent to, or forget, the enormity of the crime committed by Hitler and his people. Your frank public statements and your consistent expressions of abhor­rence for your former country (see clipping of item by Louis Sobol, for example) are a tribute to your greatness. I was deeply moved to note that you lit the flame at the symbolic graveyard of the “Heroes and Martyrs.” The meaning of this monument ( and there should be such memorials everywhere — in America, too), I agree, should be made known to the world. Alas, there are too many persons who regard what happened in those “dark years” as something that is finished.

And now, dear Madame Dietrich, I hope you will not consider it presumptuous of me if I ask if I may have the honor of meeting with you in Paris. It would give me great pleasure, and I am sure there are many things of mutual interest we could discuss. If you can spare even a little of your valuable time, I would be most grateful. For this purpose, I would arrange to stop in Paris, to suit your convenience, on either June 24, 25, or 26, on my way back from Tel-Aviv. If agreeable to you, I hope you will let me know when it would best suit you to see me.

I do look forward to seeing you in June, and meanwhile many thanks and all good wishes.

Sincerely yours,

M. Frankenhuis

October 10, 1966

The Editor
Bild Zeitung
Berlin, Germany

Dear Sir:

An article in the “Daily News” of October 4, 1966 refers to letters recently printed in your newspaper Bild Zeitung. The text follows:


Berlin, Oct. 3 (UPI) — Germans advised Marlene Dietrich today to drop any plans she might have to make a film in the country she turned her back on during the Nazi era.

Letters printed in the newspaper Bild Zeitung called on the West German government to ban the German-born actress.

Miss Dietrich strongly opposed the Nazis during the Hitler era. She left Germany and entertained Allied troops during World War II, and is now an American citizen.

Words Recalled

One letter said: “Not a penny for a film with a woman who acted so dreadfully toward Germany. We have not forgotten her words, ‘I would not even be buried in Germany.'”

The newspaper, with a circulation of 4 million, printed the letters under the headline: “Not in Germany, Bild readers indignant over Marlene’s film plans.”

When Miss Dietrich said, “I would not even be buried in Germany,” she was expressing her horror at the atrocities inflicted by the Nazis upon millions of innocent people. If she is now willing to return to Germany to make a film, it can be interpreted as a sign that she has hope for
Germany once again. There must be many German people who hail her decision and would welcome her when she comes.

As to the individuals who have written to your paper opposing her plans, they expose themselves as being still loyal to the Nazis. Americans
are shocked to realize that there are such people today!

I have made it a practice to issue regular reports on studies that I make regarding crimes committed by Germany during the holocaust of 1939 to 1945. Bild Zeitung has received such documents from me in the past. Should you be interested, I could make quantities of these reports available to you photostatically.

In the meantime, I enclose copies of correspondence I have had with Marlene Dietrich. Inasmuch as your publication is such an influential one with a circulation of 4 million, I would like to impress upon your readers what a noble and rare person she is. Germany should be proud to have produced someone like her. She could serve as a champion for a new and a humane Germany which would again take its honored place among the civilized countries of the world.

Yours faithfully,

M. Frankenhuis

P. S. Under separate cover I send you several photostatic copies of my reports.