Thursday, August 26, 2010

In Memoriam: Christopher Isherwood

Every writer writes for some posterity or other, yet few posterities have been as poignant as Christopher Isherwood's...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBerlin in the 1920s was as unique as was the eventual method of its destruction typical. In the capital of the nascent Weimar Republic there existed a sexual liberalism not to be rivalled for half a century; it was there, by some quirk of culture or circumstance - and more than thirty years before Stonewall - arose the first modern gay community.

It was to be short-lived.

What 1930s Berlin didn't manage to incarcerate, torture, or kill from the years of its decadent glory 1940s Berlin saw reduced to rubble. A hundred thousand or more gay men had been arrested in Germany from the rise of Hitler to the end of the Second World War, and as many as 15,000 of them died in prison, often killed for sport. Some of them may have been men with whom Isherwood shared intimate moments; hopefully those memories provided them some solace when it was needed most.

Today a plaque marks the house on Nollendorfstra├če where Isherwood once lived, and where some of his assignations must have taken place; exquisite phantoms all now, given blood and breath, sinew and skin, by the words and in the works of one who survived it all - Christopher Isherwood, who was born on this day in 1904.
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