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This Day in WWII 10 October 1938 - 1944

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CamelCigarettes-Oct1943.jpgCamel Cigarette Ad - October 1943

 

1938: The Hungarian army, with the sanction of its German allies, retakes territory in Czechoslovakia that was stripped from the Austro-Hungarian Empire after WWI.

 

1939: The Soviet Union signs and agreement with Lithuania that allows the Soviets to establish military bases in the country.

 

Marlene%20Dietrich1.jpg *Marlene Dietrich

 

1941: The 250th 'Blue' Division, made up of Spanish volunteers and formed within days of the German attack on the Soviet Union, goes into action against the Russians for the first time in the sector between Lake Illmen and the west bank of the Volkhov river. General Zhukov is put in charge of the West Front for the defence of Moscow. Army Group South concludes the battle along the Sea of Azov and takes 100,000 prisoners.

 

1942: German and Italian bomber forces begin a major offensive against the British island of Malta in the Mediterranean. WATCH VIDEO (Added 10/10/08)

 

Marlene%20Dietrich2.jpg Marlene Dietrich

 

1943: With the war's tide turning, the Franco government orders the Spanish 250th 'Blue' Division home. A few thousand volunteers, however, refuse to abandon the struggle against Communism and enlist in a so-called "Blue Legion" that is attached to the German 121st Infantry Division.

 

1943: Chiang Kai-shek took the oath of office as president of China.

 

Marlene%20Dietrich3.jpg Marlene Dietrich

 

1944: The American 24-hour surrender ultimatum to Germans at Aachen is rejected. The Canadians enter the Breskens Pocket along the Scheldt with amphibians.

 

1944: The British take Corinth as Army Group E begins its final retreat from Greece.

 

CamelCigarettes-Oct1944.jpg Camel Cigarette Ad - October 1944

 

1944: The Red Army breaks through the German lines in Serbia as it moves towards Belgrade.

 

1944: The Russians reach the Baltic at Memel and cut off Army Group North (26 divisions) in the Kurland for the rest of the war. The rebellion against the Tiso government in Slovakia is put down by the German Army.

 

1944: U.S. B-29 Superfortresses pound Formosa and Okinawa. The Formosa bombardment lasts seven days, during which over 650 Japanese planes are reported as destroyed.

 

Marlene%20Dietrich4.jpg Marlene Dietrich

 

*Marie Magdelene Dietrich von Losch (aka Marlene) was born in Berlin, Germany on December 27, 1901. Her father was an army officer who had served in the Franco-Prussian War. Because of his constant absences from the family due to his army duties, Marlene and the rest had to rely on themselves. When he died, while she was 11, Marlene's mother married Eduard von Losch and he adopted the Dietrich children. Marlene enjoyed music and attended concerts. She was adept at playing the violin and piano. By the time she was in her mid-teens, Marlene had discovered the stage. Acting was to be her vocation. In 1921, Marlene applied for an acting school run by Max Reinhardt. She was accepted. She appeared in several stage production, but never had more than a couple of spoken lines. In short, she wasn't setting the stage world on fire. She attempted films for the first time in 1922. Her first film was "So sind die Männer" (1923) which was followed by "Tragödie der Liebe" (1923). On this last project, she met Rudolf Sieber and married him in 1924. The union lasted until his death in 1976 although they didn't live together that whole time. The remainder of her early film career was generally filled with bit roles that never amounted to a whole lot. After being seen in the German production of "Der blaue Engel" (1930) in 1930, Marlene was given a crack at Hollywood. Her first US film was "Morocco" (1930) with Gary Cooper later that year followed, by "Dishonored" (1931) in 1931. This latter movie had her cast as a street walker who is appointed a spy. The film was a rather boring affair but was a success because of Marlene's presence. Movie goers were simply attracted to her. In 1932, Marlene filmed "Shanghai Express" (1932) which proved to be immensely popular raking in $3 million. Once again, she was cast as a prostitute. The next film was "Blonde Venus" (1932) which turned out to be a horrible production. Her co-star was Cary Grant and once again she was cast as a prostitute. Marlene seemed to be typecast as a woman of low morals and she wanted different parts. Some films such as "Desire" (1936) in 1936 didn't do that but she wanted to expand. Her chance came in 1939 in "Destry Rides Again" (1939) when she was cast as "Frenchy", a Western saloon hostess. This began a new direction for Marlene since it shed the typecasting which she was forced to endure during her career.

In interviews, Dietrich stated that she had been approached by representatives of the Nazi Party to return to Germany, but had turned them down flat. Dietrich became an American citizen in 1939.

In December 1941, the U.S. entered World War II, and Dietrich became one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds. She entertained troops on the front lines in a USO revue that included future TV pioneer Danny Thomas as her opening act. Dietrich was known to have strong political convictions and the mind to speak them. Like many Weimar-era German entertainers, she was a staunch anti-Nazi who despised antisemitism.

Marlene%20Dietrich5.jpg Marlene Dietrich

Dietrich recorded a number of anti-Nazi records in German for the OSS, including Lili Marleen. She also played the musical saw, something she had originally learned for stage appearances in Berlin to entertain troops. She sang for the Allied troops on the front lines in Algeria and France, and went into Germany with Generals James M. Gavin and George S. Patton. When asked why she had done this, in spite of the obvious danger of being within a few kilometers of German lines, she replied, "aus Anstand" "it was the decent thing to do."

Marlene%20Dietrich6.jpg

"Marlene Dietrich, motion picture actress, autographs the cast on the leg of Tec 4 Earl E. McFarland at a United States hospital in Belgium, where she has been entertaining the GIs."

Unlike her professional celebrity, which was carefully crafted and maintained, Dietrich's personal life was kept out of public view. Dietrich, who was bisexual, enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin.

She married only once, assistant director Rudolf Sieber, who later became an assistant director at Paramount Pictures in France, responsible for foreign language dubbing. Dietrich's only child, Maria Elisabeth Sieber, was born in Berlin on 13 December 1924. She would later become an actress, primarily working in television, known as Maria Riva. When Maria gave birth to a son in 1948, Dietrich was dubbed "the world's most glamorous grandmother". After Dietrich's death, Riva published a frank biography of her mother, titled Marlene Dietrich (1992).

Throughout her career Dietrich had an unending string of affairs, some short-lived, some lasting decades; they often overlapped and were almost all known to her husband, to whom she was in the habit of passing the love letters of her men, sometimes with biting comments. In 1938, Dietrich met and began a relationship with the writer Erich Maria Remarque, and in 1941, the French actor and military hero Jean Gabin. Their relationship ended in the mid-1940s. She also had an affair with the Cuban-American writer Mercedes de Acosta, who was Greta Garbo's lover. Her last great passion, when she was in her 50s, appears to have been for the actor Yul Brynner, but her love life continued well into her 70s. She counted George Bernard Shaw and John F. Kennedy among her conquests. She prided herself on the fact that she had slept with three men of the Kennedy clan - Joseph P. Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. and John F. Kennedy. Dietrich maintained her husband and his mistress first in Europe and finally on a small ranch in the San Fernando Valley, California.

Marlene%20Dietrich7.jpg Marlene Dietrich

Dietrich was an atheist. She was raised a Calvinist, but lost her faith due to battlefront experiences during her time with the US Army as an entertainer.

All through the 1940s, she appeared in well-produced, well-directed films such as "Manpower" (1942), "The Spoilers" (1942), "The Lady Is Willing" (1942) and "Pittsburgh" (1942) all in 1942. Afterwards the roles came fewer, perhaps one to two films every year. In 1945, Marlene didn't appear in any. She only made seven productions in the 1950's. Her last role of any substance was "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961) in 1961. Despite the lack of theatrical roles, Marlene still made appearances on the stage. However, by 1979, she was a shell of her former self. After breaking her leg in one performance, she never made a go of it in show business again. Spending the last 12 years of her life bed-ridden, Marlene died on May 6, 1992 in Paris, France of kidney failure at the age of 90.

TRIVIA:

Measurements: 35-24-33 (in 1930), 36 1/2-26-33 (mid-1950s), (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

Height: 5' 6" (1.68 m)

Nickname: Lili Marlene

Marlene's father was Lt. Louis Erich Otto Dietrich, a Berlin police lieutenant, who died of injuries he suffered after he was thrown off a horse when Marlene was very young. Her mother remarried to Colonel Eduard von Losch, who was killed in WWI.

She demanded that Max Factor sprinkle half an ounce of real gold dust into her wigs to add glitter to her tresses during filming.

Marlene suffered from bacilophobia, the fear of germs.

Lived out her life in apartment #12E at 993 Park Avenue in Manhattan where Jamie Lee Curtis had earlier stayed with then fiance J. Michael Riva (Dietrich's grandson) during the Trading Places (1983) shoot.

CamelCigarettes3-Oct1944.jpg Camel Cigarette Ad - October 1944

 

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