The correspondence between Marlene Dietrich and Erich Maria Remarque is sometimes described as the most beautiful romance novel of the 20th century. When reading the letters from Remarque to Marlene Dietrich, one gets the impression that these letters are anything but classical letters: Every one of his letters is a short novel by itself and explains a plot in only a few words.
Unfortunately, Marlene Dietrich’s letters to Erich Maria Remarque are unavailable because they’ve been destroyed by Remarque’s wife.
Remarque writes about his love to Marlene in his novel “Arc de Triomphe“. In “Arc de Triomphe“, the protagonist Ravic falls in love with the actress and singer Joan Madou – the two are having a very turbulent love life.
It’s for sure that the novel’s plot concerning Joan Madou is a overdramatised double of the relationship between Marlene Dietrich and Erich Maria Remarque. After all, this is exactly what makes the novel attractive .
As Marlene and Erich Maria met in Venice for the first time, they had especially one thing in common: They were both Germans living in exile.
Marlene Dietrich declined alluring offers by Joseph Goebbels to make movies in the Third Reich and Remarque’s novels were burned by the National Socialists.
The fact that Remarque was impotent, didn’t bother Marlene at all – quite the contrary: Marlene seemed to long for mental and spiritual love and less for physical love.
Jean Gabin, a lover of Marlene Dietrich, once said about her: “That filly is impossible to drive.“
Very soon, Erich Maria Remarque got to see that Marlene wanted to remain as independent as possible. No wonder that Remarque was jealous of the writer Ernest Hemingway who also enjoyed the acquaintance of Marlene Dietrich.
Eventually, Marlene didn’t want to to take anybody’s orders whom she should love and whom not. Furthermore, she was married to Rudi Sieber from the early nineteen-twenties until his death.
Marlene Dietrich wasn’t very enthusiastic when she read “Arc de Triomphe“ for the first time. After the novel was released, the name “Ravic“ (Remarque always signed his letters to her with this pet name) wasn’t exclusive to her anymore – from now on, the name was common property. | Read more about culture.
Simon von Ludwig