“Celebrities such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Meryl Streep are described as brave, a true inspiration, and heroes. But what have they really done besides using hyperbolic language?…They do not know what the word courageous means. They should take a lesson from a celebrity who was bold, daring, and fearless: Marlene Dietrich.” Elise Cooper
“She lived with the troops, and not in some plush hotel.” Ibid
“But she was courageous. In November 1947, she received the Medal of Freedom, one of her proudest accomplishments, as well as the French Legion d’Honneur.” Ibid
Behold: A Celebrity Patriots Can Admire
Professors, political commentators, celebrities, and even some in the mainstream media have engaged in rhetoric to denounce Donald Trump. It appeared that Lady Gaga sported an outfit resembling a Nazi uniform at Hillary Clinton’s final rally, and then there was Madonna at the women’s march in Washington, D.C., who told the crowd that she had “thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.” In addition, Hollywood stars and those in the press have gone over the line by describing Trump and his administration as “Hitlerian.”
This comparison is ridiculous, considering that Trump’s son-in-law and daughter are Orthodox Jews, and giving an invocation at the inauguration was Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which confronts anti-Semitism. People should not forget that during Hitler’s regime, there were political opponents thrown into prison, with many executed; the mass slaughter of Jews and gays along with other ethnicities; Russian prisoners of war killed; forced labor camps; the Nuremberg laws of 1935; children experimented on; and the Final Solution of the Jews. By comparing Trump to Hitler people are trivializing the Holocaust’s victims.
Celebrities such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Meryl Streep are described as brave, a true inspiration, and heroes. But what have they really done besides using hyperbolic language? Have they fought for human rights around the globe? In many Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and Iraq, women are used as “slave girls,” beaten, abused, and executed. In Nigeria, the Boko Haram terrorist network kidnapped two hundred schoolgirls only because they were Christians. In Afghanistan, acid was thrown in the faces of three teenage girls just because they wanted to attend school, while in Syria ISIS is executing homosexuals. Yet the celebrities are quiet. They do not know what the word courageous means.
They should take a lesson from a celebrity who was bold, daring, and fearless: Marlene Dietrich.
Author C.W. Gortner, who has a recently published book, Marlene, wants people “to remember what she did during World War II. It is important to recognize she was a German who stood up to the Nazis. She stood up for what she believed in. She called Hitler a tyrant and a lunatic publicly.”
She did more than speak out. As the Nazis became entrenched in power in the 1930s, Marlene helped her countrymen. She supported those who came to Hollywood with money and referrals and even gave them a place to sleep. In 1937, her entire salary for Knight Without Armor ($450,000) was put into escrow to help the refugees. Peter Riva, her grandson, tells of how she and others in Hollywood would try to get visas to help German Jews like Peter Lorre and Billy Wilder. And Marlene did much more, contacting German Jewish film workers, about sixty-five, who were not famous, such as the make-up woman, and telling them, “I am sending you money to get on the next train to Paris. Pretend you are going away for a weekend, and when you arrive, I will give you train tickets to Portugal.”
Gortner describes how Marlene had been asked to return to Germany by people associated with Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s to make films there. They offered her a prestigious German medal that would gain her access to Hitler. After turning them down, Marlene became a U.S. citizen in 1939. As a result, her films were banned in her native land, and Hitler signed a warrant putting a bounty on her head.
As the world war began and news of all the concentration camps in Germany became public, Marlene decided to do her part for the war effort. She tirelessly worked on war bond drives and recorded anti-Nazi messages in German for broadcast to demoralize the Axis troops. Asked by the OSS, the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA, she would contact those in the German government and military, asking them to become spies. Riva explains, “Because she had a distinguished and unique voice that everyone knew, they needed her help. With her, they could prove to people that they were not really Nazis and were part of the Allied effort to enlist their help. After talking to them, she would hand the phone off to the Americans to do their magic.”
Could anyone imagine that the Hollywood stars and celebrities of today would embed themselves with the troops on the front lines? In 1944, that is exactly what Marlene did. She began a ten-month tour, performing for allied troops in Algeria, Italy, and France, many times within a few miles of the German lines. Billy Wilder later remarked that she was at the front lines more than General Eisenhower. Marlene was entertaining U.S. troops at Bastogne in the Ardennes on December 15, 1944, only hours before the city was targeted by a massive German counteroffensive in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Learning that she was in the area, SS general Sepp Dietrich redoubled the bounty on her head. Fearing for her safety, Generals George S. Patton and James M. Gavin gave her guns to defend and protect herself, worrying that the enemy wanted to capture her and then utilize her for propaganda purposes.
She lived with the troops, and not in some plush hotel. Riva relays the story of comedian Danny Thomas: “He told me, ‘Your grandmother wanted to get us all killed. If there was even a few minutes of daylight, she had us get on the back of a flatbed truck and entertain the soldiers, even if there were only ten of them.’ She did not care about her own safety and did not fear the bombs falling. Having endured pneumonia, dysentery, frostbite, and lice, her attitude was, the soldiers are not complaining, so why should she?” In fact, Marlene commented, “After having performed for soldiers at the front, no other audience could ever measure up to this experience. Well, does it take courage to decide which side to take? No!”
But she was courageous. In November 1947, she received the Medal of Freedom, one of her proudest accomplishments, as well as the French Légion d’Honneur.
Too bad celebrities today do not have the same moral compass as Marlene Dietrich. Aware that her most effective weapon for fighting the Nazi regime was her presence on the front lines, she thought of herself as a soldier in her own right. As Riva said, “the troops allowed her to fulfill her hope for a victory against the Nazis.”
It is inappropriate and irresponsible for people to compare the Jewish refugees or the Holocaust to today’s issues. Celebrities today should take a lesson from yesteryear’s stars, such as Marlene Dietrich, who either enlisted or became embedded with the troops – not in the safe zones, but on the front lines.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.