In summer 2010 I visited Berlin for the first time. My boyfriend had lived there in the past for a few years and knew the place well, but since I’d not been there before he let me dictate where we went (pretty much). Guess where I wanted to go? That’s right – anywhere Klaus Kinski ever went when he lived in Berlin. We were only there for a week though so I couldn’t make it to all the venues I’d marked off on my map, but I made a start and fully intend to go back there so I can tick a few more places off the list. Here’s my Berlin Guide to Klaus Kinski (Pt 1) including my photographs taken with my Lomography Diana F+ camera:
* Warning for those who are easily offended – some of the anecdotes related below include offensive language and details of a sexual nature *
Klaus Kinski’s family moved over to Berlin from Danzig in 1931 when Klaus would have been 4 or 5 years old. They briefly lived in Pallasstrasse (see further down) and then eventually found an apartment at Wartburgstrasse 3 on the 4th floor – it’s at the top of this picture and looks quite classy really. Klaus lived there until about 1944 or 1945. He went back there after he was released from a prisoner of war camp in Colchester, Essex. But his parents were both killed during the war and he drifted between the family home and other temporary homes for some time before eventually getting his own apartment when he started getting professional paid acting work.
Young Klaus would have walked in and out of that door – sigh!
This way to Klaus haus!
This is 161 Uhlandstrasse, where Klaus rented an unfurnished 6 room apartment. As soon as word got out that Klaus had an apartment, the bailiffs arrived. He only had one chair and he hurled it at the bailiffs. As Klaus said, “Yorka [his girlfriend] was right when she told me to buy the chair. It’s stable, and I can use it again.” The place became, as Klaus put it, “a real bordello.” Yorka caught Klaus shagging an usherette from the Gloria Palast there. I guess that put the end to their relationship… Eventually Biggi moved in and made it into “a romantic love nest”.
161 Uhlandstrasse again – Klaus practiced here with the guitarist Ingo Insterburg in the late 1950s. They performed the songs of Brecht together in May 1959 at the Titania Palast.
213 Kurfürstendamm, on the corner of Uhlandstrasse – above what used to be the Café Möhring. Klaus used to visit his gay Russian gangster pal, a certain Prince Sasha Kropotkin, here. His apartment ran around the entire street corner and it was a “meeting place for black marketeers, aristocrats, high-fashion designers, thieves, whores, hustlers, artists, murderers, and top-ranking French, British, American, and even Soviet occupation officers.” An average get-together, then?
Theater am Kurfürstendamm, which is at Kurfürstendamm 206-209. Klaus appeared at a charity event hosted here on 11 January 1948 and recited Die Rast by Rainer Maria Rilke; he also appeared in Arthur Schnitzler’s Der grüne Kakadu here on 16 November 1959.
On 23 March 1952 Pola Kinski, Klaus’ first daughter, was born in the Klinik Schlüterstraße. Pola’s mother was Gislinde Kühbeck, who Klaus “knocked up” at the Art Academy Festival in Munich – the same night as he also knocked up her friend Therese. Therese had an abortion but Gislinde carried her baby to term. Klaus married her on 11 June 1952; they were divorced in 1955.
Paris-Bar, at Kantstrasse 152 – Klaus went here with Prince Sasha Kropotkin: “I dance with a Polish cu*t. She works as a stripper at a nearby club and lives in a rooming house on the corner. I reach into Sasha’s pocket and fish out whatever I need for the Pole. The Polish cu*t must have a magic technique. My dick stays hard nonstop even after I’ve shot a couple of times. After every f*** she pushes out my boner, rolls over, and dozes off. There’s no way I can sleep; I wait with my trigger-happy cock until her big ass squeezes toward me – that’s the signal. She’s gotta have it six or seven times a night. She barely talks, only when it’s absolutely necessary. Besides, I don’t understand her gobbledygook.” Charmer, eh?
Fasanenstrasse. When Klaus’ brother Achim needed a lawyer after being locked up in the Moabit remand prison, Klaus headed off to Fasanenstrasse but got himself into some trouble by intervening in an altercation between a policewoman and a woman who was selling stuff on the black market. Klaus was called an “agitator” and a “dangerous element”. He was taken off to a cell and told that he was being charged with insulting the policewoman’s uniform (uh?) and “resisting the authority of the state.” O dearie me…
Olympische Strasse (possibly number 6) – this is where Yorka (one of Klaus’ many girlfriends – the one who caught him with the usherette from the Gloria Palast) lived with her mother. Klaus used to sleep on the couch there and baby sat for Yorka’s children when she went to work. Klaus knocked Yorka up but she knew he wouldn’t stay with her so as Klaus simply put it, “I can’t prevent her from having an abortion.”
Theodor-Heuss-Platz, which used to be known as Reichskanzlerplatz. Klaus went home with a newspaperwoman who came to see him requesting an interview: “Forty minutes later we’re alone in her apartment on Reichskanzlerplatz… By the time we’re naked, we’re both crouching like two beasts about to pounce on each other. Then we do pounce, we dig our teeth into each other. We hit each other on the body. The face. The breasts. The genitals. Attack each other more and more violently. Sink our teeth in more and more painfully… Sixteen hours later, when I leave her apartment at seven AM, there’s nothing we haven’t done. A short time afterward I read in the papers that she and her husband have committed suicide.”
The Hebbel Theater at Stresemannstrasse 29. Klaus was called in to audition by Jürgen Fehling and he kept him there for seven hours straight: “Fehling has a young usherette to do the death scene in Othello with me. “Just keep your trap shut,” he tells the flabbergasted girl, “no matter what Kinski does to you, you just stay as motionless as a bump on a log, don’t let out a peep. I want to hear nothing but his voice.” What does he mean, “No matter was Kinski does to you”? What can I do to her here anyway? I hate this guy. I’d rather f*** the usherette, whose panties smell so intoxicating that my nuts aches. Seven hours aren’t enough for him! He must be a wacko!”
The Hebbel Theater again. Klaus played here: 16 February 1952 in Julien Luchaire’s Die Zwanzigjährigen (Altitude 3200) and 1 September 1952 in Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.
Klixstrasse. In 1936 Klaus attended the Prinz-Heinrich Gymnasium, Klixstrasse 7. This is the site of what is now known as the Friedrich-List-Schule but there was building work taking place all down the street. Klaus skipped school for 7 months because he preferred to hang around the streets. He was eventually expelled. I bet Hans Fallada was not expelled when he went there in 1899…
Badensche strasse. In 1946 Klaus briefly attended the Schauspielschule Marlise Ludwig on Badensche strasse: “I’ve learnt that there’s such a thing as acting schools. I use them to steal books, and normally I also steal a girl into the bargain. Besides, the acting schools are always heated, and the girls always have sandwiches or an apple or a hardboiled egg… These girls are very young. The youngest is thirteen. The oldest sixteen and a half. She’s a slut, but she’s hard at work studying acting, and she gets food and whole cartons of cigarettes from the Yanks. She’s had syphilis, but she says she’s been cured. She’s very sweet, but a boring beanpole. I f*** her just the once, on a steep slope over the railroad tracks near Halensee Station.” I love the fact that this guy is trying to get into my photograph!
Pallasstrasse. Klaus’ family moved to Berlin in 1930 – they stay in a hotel at first and then eventually move into an apartment here: “My father’s got a job! So we lose no time getting out of the hotel! Pallasstrasse, third rear court. The apartment is a fluke. The previous tenant committed suicide. For us it’s paradise. One room. Three feet of corridor. It’s got a kitchen, and we share a latrine with the other tenants on the landing. We also have a Dutch stove and a gas range. The range works through a coin meter. You insert a dime and you can start cooking on the spot. The sealed meters are opened every month by the gas man, the coins are removed, and the apparatus is resealed. Our predecessor took over the gas man’s work. He broke the meter open himself, confiscated the coins, and reinserted them. Then he gassed himself. Now he’s lying in the morgue, and we’re in his apartment!” Hooray for the Nakszynski family!
Gloria Palast – bit dark, isn’t it? Take a word of advice, even with a flash a Lomography camera cannot handle the dark… Anyroad, back in something like 1959 Klaus was dating a woman called Yorka but she caught him with an usherette from the Gloria Palast in the apartment on Uhlandstrasse: “There’s an usherette at the Gloria Palace who kneels down next to my seat during a screening and brings me best regards from her friend, whom I’ve never even met. I have to take her to my brothel [he means the Uhlandstrasse apartment]. Unfortunately Yorka comes back from shopping with overflowing bags – and catches the usherette and me with my pants down in the middle of the room. We’re wedged into one another… After dropping her bags, [Yorka] dashes from the apartment.” Naughty Klaus!
In Kinski Uncut Klaus talks about his recitals in one breath and then the Fritz Kortner film Sarajevo the next moment – the film was released in 1955 so I guess he’s indicating he did some Wilde, Mayakovsky, Rimbaud, etc recitals in either 1954 or early 1955 but he only did the Villon recitals during that period and they were in 1952 in Berlin and 1954 in Munich. He’s got his dates wrong somehow. He also says he rented the Volksbühne (pictured below) to hold the recitals there (amongst other theatres) but I can’t find any reference to this anywhere. It’s possible he’s wrong, but what a lovely theatre anyway
Kammerspiele des Deutschen Theaters, Schumannstrasse 13a – Klaus did Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure here on 15 October 1948, directed by Wolfgang Langhoff. Klaus had to play Claudio who was, as Klaus put it, “sentenced to death for deflowering a young girl without first marrying her. (Me, of all guys!)”
Eventually Klaus got himself into trouble for eating two meals in one day at the Deutsches Theater Club (which he wasn’t allowed to do) and then the manager refused to give him an advance on his salary, so he did his nut: “…I grab the shithead’s necktie and slap him until his bleating attracts other office employees. Now Langhoff appears, too, and orders me to take off my costume, firing me on the spot… “If you want your costume back, here it is!” I rip bits of the costume off my body. I chew it up into bits and pieces. “This is for you! And for you! Here! Eat it up if you like! No one else’ll ever wear it after me!” …There’s no way they can stop me. I stand with my back to the wall, and if anyone tries to get at me I’ll kick them in the head! Then I’m naked! The barkeep throws a coat over me and tries to calm me down, for I’m shrieking with fury and disgust at this rabble.” Klaus!
And, with that, we leave Klaus in Berlin for now! Hope you enjoyed the brief Kinski-Berlin tour. If you’re ever in Berlin, check out the Kinski Club at Friedelstraße 28 (b+w photograph below courtesy of my boyfriend) http://www.kinskiclub.de/. We went along but it didn’t open until 9pm and we couldn’t be bothered to hang around for a few hours until it opened. Still, it looked good, if a bit rough and ready. The shop next door had a sign in the window warning something along the following lines: This is not Kinski Club – do not ask here!
Acknowledgements: The majority of the information included above was gleaned from Kinski Uncut, which is a valuable resource for any Kinski fan. I’d recommend buying it if you don’t have it already. Some of the dates for the plays / performances etc were taken from www.klaus-kinski.de, a great little website with masses of detail.