Onkel Ernst, Günther
Thanks to family Günther (written on the back of the postcard and marked with a small cross on the front; they are situated on the last window to the right in the middle of the photo) we can glimpse into the everyday life of Berlin after the turn of the century.
What we can see on the photo is a mixed residential and commercial building. The ground floor features different stores and offices. Starting from the left we can see an office space occupied by a branch bank. The name is not completely readable but it appears to be a branch (Depositenkasse which roughly translates into deposit bank) of the Bank für Handel und Industrie (Darmstädter Bank). From the right there is retail store with the name Corsets Gebr. Lewandowski selling womenswear.1 So far two ordinary occupants.
Flanked by those to premises there is the entrance to the Parade-Theater. The name is prominently written right above the entrance. To the left and right of the entrance there are two boards with a self-promotional text.
der vornehmen Welt
This translates to: Intimate sound image stage. Venue for the noble world. Artistic programs of outstanding attractions. Judging by the text the cinema tried to attract a wealthy audience or at least pretended to do so. While glancing at the cinema a small detail pops up that allows to date the picture. In the area of the entrance of the Parade-Theater an ad is visible.
This looks like an ad for a film. It features the drawing of a woman with a tunic as well as letters from a film title. What is visible of the title is:
This is the ad for the film Locusta. Die Giftmischerin Neros. by Gaumont2 which was scheduled for release in cinema on March 25, 1911.3 Therefore the photo was most likely shot around the end of March or in April 1911. Though it is possible that the film was shown much later as part of a rerun. Yet that seems unlikely as according to the self-portrayal of the cinema it was likely a premium establishment with a greater need for novelties. The Parade-Theater features some nice details but a cinema itself wasn’t that unusual for a long and frequented street like the Friedrichstraße.4
What is intriguing about the picture is the occupant of the first floor. The central office of Duskes Kinematographen- und Film-Fabriken G.m.b.H.. The Berlin Adreßbuch (address book) from 1911 featured a larger ad by Alfred Duskes for his company highlighting the different facilities and the different offerings. The ad locates the central office at Friedrichstraße 46 in Berlin pinpointing the location of the photo as well.5 The address has been officially used by Duskes since April 1908 and was first described as Engagement-Abt. (properly an office for customer engagements) in an advertisement.6 This venue was later used as address for the head office when Duskes transformed his company Alfred Duskes into Duskes Kinematographen- und Film-Fabriken G.m.b.H. in July 1908.7
Even though we cannot grasp the inside of the Duskes‘ office the outside alone shows interesting details. Duskes proudly and confidently states on a banderole above the first floor that his company was Germany‘s largest producer of film-equipment and films (… Deutschlands grösste Kinematographen- u. Films- F… ). In addition to that all rooms occupied by Duskes feature painted windows. The larger ones state the name and the fact that this venue of Duskes‘ is the central office of the company.
To the left and right of the larger windows there are smaller ones with Duskes‘ logo (DSKS) on it. The logo was used after February 1908.8 Apart from the logo there are names of European cities on it. Readable cities are London, Paris, Moskau (Moscow), Wien (Vienna) and Mailand (Milan) highlighting the internationality of the company to the viewer.
What can be seen on the photo are two representatives of a well established industry blending with their surroundings. Both the Parade-Theater as well as Duskes emanate pride and confidence attesting their broader acceptance in society. Especially the head office of Duskes Kinematographen- und Film-Fabriken G.m.b.H. is intriguing as it allows a rare glimpse at the perceptibility of film producers in everyday life.
The images used are from reproductions made by myself, the original photographer is unknown.
Berliner Adreßbuch (1911), 250. Retrieved from https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:kobv:109-1-2675640/fragment/page=4046 ↩︎
Leon Gaumont (1911, February 9). [Advertisement]. Deutscher Lichtbild-Theater-Besitzer, 3(6), 1. ↩︎
The address book for Berlin lists three venues at Friedrichstraße but missing the one in the photo. Therefore the actual number of cinemas might have been higher. Berliner Adreßbuch (1911), 207. Retrieved from https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:kobv:109-1-2675640/fragment/page=5106 ↩︎
Berliner Adreßbuch (1911), 207. Retrieved from https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:kobv:109-1-2675640/fragment/page=5106 ↩︎
Alfred Duskes (1909, April 22). [Advertisement]. Kinematograph, 2(69). ↩︎
Alfred Duskes (1909, July 22). [Advertisement]. Kinematograph, 2(82). ↩︎
Alfred Duskes (1908, February 26). [Advertisement]. Kinematograph, 2(61). ↩︎