Over one hundred years ago, cabarets began to flourish in Berlin. Performances included political satires and gallows humor until Nazi power began repressing this intellectual criticism. Many cabaret performers were imprisoned for being gay. While in the concentration camps, they continued having cabarets until they were extinguished.

Teri Darnell helped protect the freedom of West Berliners while stationed at Tempelhof Air Base in Berlin during the 1980’s before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. When Teri arrived for duty in Berlin, part of orientation was visiting Sachsenhausen. The Nazi concentration camp was used primarily for political prisoners. Meat hooks lined the walls. Prisoners hung on the hooks until gassed to death in the chambers. This horrific visual was etched in Teri’s mind forever. At that moment, she completely understood the importance of freedom and protecting our democracy and those of our allies against the control of communist powers.

When she visited Berlin over thirty years later, she discovered Kabarett der Namenlosen (Cabaret of the Lost Artists). The show consisted of surreal “flashbacks” of Berlin before cabarets and gay venues in Berlin closed due the takeover of Nazi power. The performances of the ‘lost artists’ in Kabarett der Namenlosen reminded her of how fragile our democracy actually can be in times of political uncertainty.

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Kabarett Der Namenlosen (Cabaret of the Nameless)

Teri Darnell Photography