“The Blond Hans”

One of the ideas that appears over and over again in the statements made by her contemporaries about Sigrid Schultz is that she “knew everyone.” Working through her letters and draft memoirs, it certainly seemed to be true. I found correspondence from people like novelist Paul Gallico and dancer and choreographer Ted Shawn that made my fan girl heart flutter.

I quickly learned to track down names I didn’t recognize, especially those of German performers and artists. Most of them were famous at the time. And even if they didn’t make it into the final version of the book,* learning about them gave me a richer picture of the world Sigrid moved in.

I had a hard time reducing German actor Hans Albers (1891-1960) down to a single walk-on line.


Albers was a cabaret comic and singer, whose 1928 revue Zieh Dich Aus (Undress Yourself) was one of the hottest shows in Berlin, both in terms of popularity and what Schultz called “spiciness.” He was famous for his clever improvising as well as his charismatic stage presence.

Albers went on to become one of the most popular German movie star between 1930 and his death in 1960. After parts in more than 100 silent films, he starred in the first German talking picture, The Night Belongs to Us (1929)—a romance with a race car theme. Later that year, he had an important role in The Blue Angel, the film which made Marlene Dietrich an international star. Albers found his own breakout role in The Copper (1930), a German-British crime film in which he played Scotland Yard Sergeant Harry Cross.** He became known for roles as a dashing hero in adventure movies and occasional westerns.***

When the Nazis came to power, “the blond Hans,” as he was known, was so popular that the Nazi regime overlooked his long-standing relationship with Jewish actress Hansi Burg for several years.**** Despite the fact that he frequently opposed the Nazis, his acting career flourished under the Third Reich. Instead of playing overtly Nazi heroes, Albers took roles as heroic Germans of the past and romantic leads.  After the war, he moved successfully into roles as wise, fatherly figures.


*So many stories got cut in the final big revision before I turned my manuscript in last May. This happens when you need to reduce your word count by 40,000.

**The film was remade in 1958, with Albers once again the the leading role.

*** Thanks to novelist Karl May,  pulp-styleWestern adventure were very popular in Germany in the years between the two world wars.

****When it became too dangerous for her to stay in Germany, Burg fled Germany with some help from Sigrid, who arranged for her to marry a Norwegian, Erich Blydt, thereby making her eligible for a visa to Norway. Burg returned to Germany, and Albers, after the war, again with help from Sigrid, who undertook what she described as “a kind of Cupid act.”


And speaking of Sigrid Schultz, The Dragon From Chicago is available for pre-order wherever you buy your books.  You can get a signed copy for yourself or your favorite tough cookie from my neighborhood bookstore, the Seminary Coop: https://www.semcoop.com/dragon-chicago-untold-story-american-reporter-nazi-germany .  Use the special instructions box to tell me how you want it signed.


  1. Joy on May 15, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    Both Hand Albers and Hansi Burg sound like great biographic material for stand alone books of their own.

    • Pamela on May 19, 2024 at 8:30 pm

      I agree, though I’m not sure my German would be up to the task.

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