Ischerwood Plaque in Berlin.

Memorial Plaque for Christopher Isherwood in Berlin.

in March 1929 Isherwood moved to Nollendorfstraße 17, Berlin – Schöneberg (map here)

Isherwood memorial plaque Nollendorfstr. 17 Berlin – Schöneberg

…click image for close up of plaque…

“During that same year [1929] he followed the author W. H. Auden to Berlin. Both were fascinated by the unreality, the speed, and the gay scene in Berlin. … He and Auden frequented the the hustler bars in the area around Hallesches Tor in the borough of Kreuzberg on an almost nightly basis. Their regular bar was the “Cosy Corner” on Zossener Straße, a dingy café in which always half a dozen young men loitered about, and drank beer.

Isherwood soon spoke German fluently. He paid for his expenses with what he earned as a language teacher, and a quarterly allowance from his wealthy uncle Henry Isherwood. His first quarters were as a border with Magnus Hirschfeld’s eldest sister at the Institute for Sexual Research directly next to the Großen Tiergarten, approximately located where the congress hall is today. In October 1930 he moved to the working class borough of Kreuzberg, first to Simeonstraße near Prinzenstraße U-Bahn station, a month later to Admiralstraße adjacent to Kottbusser Tor. Beginning in December of 1930 he lived directly in the middle of Berlin’s gay and lesbian district at Nollendorfstraße 17, in the borough of Schöneberg, were a memorial plaque is dedicated to his memory. Two corners away was the dance cabaret Eldorado, rebounded for its transvestite shows in which Marlene Dietrich was also a regular guest. In March of 1932 he met his first long term companion, the then 17 year old bellhop Heinz Neddermeyer, he lived with for five years.“*

My love of Berlin is probably due most to having read Isherwoods “Goodbye to Berlin” and “Mr. Norris Changes Trains” just before i visited Berlin for the first time in February of 1987. It was on a field trip style DAAD (Deutsches Akademisches Auslandsdienst) 10 day Seminar on Germany East & West.

When i got of the bus at the corner of Kurfüstendamm and Joachimstalerstraße (Yes, there were affordable hotels in that area back then!) after bouncing over the crumbling GDR autobahn (German Democratic Republic – so-called East Germany) for hours, it was like i had come home. As though i had just been out of town for a while, and was coming back to where i had left off. It was an eerie, and electrifying sensation.

* Christopher Isherwood, Wikipedia – die freie Enzyklopädie [http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Isherwood] [translation by this blog’s author] last viewed 26 Mai 2014. 

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