Metropolis of vice

I discovered this online recently and thought you really ought to see it. It’s from a 2005 Canadian documentary about the “legendary sin cities” of the 1920s and 1930s including, naturally, Berlin. Its depiction of Weimar licentiousness is familiar Strange Flowers terrain, but there’s some great footage and thoughtful talking heads.

Anita Berber is there, naturally. Berber biographer Mel Gordon, recently mentioned in these pages, talks about the woman who shocked even the blasé Berliners. Also analysing this unprecedented period of social experimentation is David Clay Large, author of Berlin: A Modern History.



  1. I will definitely be checking this out. Just finished reading “Before the Deluge” so a lot of things are still fresh in my mind. Thanks for posting this!

    • Just watched this, and am downloading the entire film. Some cool footage, regardless of source. Having read a number of tomes on these subjects (and on gay history in general), it’s great to see such imagery in a format other than a small photo in a book.

      What can be gleaned from all of this is that human nature remains the same. Here in the US, the disparity between rich and poor, the dichotomy of left and right, all have a hauntingly familiar refrain.

      On an unrelated note, Axel Bruggemann is looking sehr gut!

      • Glad you enjoyed it! And yes, plus ça change etc. I’m halfway through Weimar Culture by Peter Gay (né Peter Fröhlich!) which is proving dazzlingly insightful and enlightening. One thing it illustrates is how much of what we regard as typically Weimar had its roots well before WWI.

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