What are the origins of celebrities

Sylt: the island of longing for the rich and beautiful

Status: 04.05.2021 2:32 p.m.

Actors and writers came to Sylt in the 1920s. During the Second World War, the island was considered a restricted area. After the reopening of the bathing season on June 15, 1946, the celebrities slowly returned.

Emil Nolde and Hermann Hesse, Marlene Dietrich and Stefan Zweig: As early as the 1920s, the island of Sylt exerted a magical attraction on painters, writers, actors and other celebrities. Dance diva Gret Palucca dances naked in the dunes of the island and Thomas Mann wrote in 1928 in the guest book of the legendary artist pension "Kliffende" in Kampen: "I lived deeply on this shattering sea." The small farming village is turning into a real artist colony and attracts creative people, intellectuals and bon vivants from all over the Weimar Republic.


Second World War - Sylt becomes a restricted area

Swastika flags were waving on the beach in Westerland in the 1930s.

While writers and artists continued to be drawn to intellectual Kampen in the 1930s, prominent National Socialists such as Hermann Göring were vacationing in Westerland. Swastika flags fly there in the front gardens and beach castles. Many hoteliers declare Jewish guests undesirable. In the Second World War, tourism on Sylt finally comes to a standstill, as the island is closed to tourism. Sylt is a restricted area, massive bunkers and sea target batteries are intended to counter a possible invasion by the Allies via the North Sea. However, Sylt is largely spared from armed conflicts. Most hoteliers, however, are broke due to a lack of income. The accommodation of displaced persons leads to further losses. In 1946, tourism is again possible on the island. However, only 2,000 beds are available compared to 7,000 before the war. After all, the first bathing season after the war starts in June of the same year.

With Gunter Sachs come the rich and beautiful

"Strange characters" are no strangers to the locals when Gunter Sachs brought the island out of its slumber, into which it had fallen in the post-war period, at the end of the 1960s. The corporate heir celebrates wild parties on the until then tranquil island. The millionaire Playboy basks with his then wife Brigitte Bardot and other celebrities on the legendary beach section Buhne 16 near Kampen - and is sometimes followed by curious glances: "I was on Sylt at Buhne 16, the beach for all sun-hungry naked people in the republic. Despite the transparent 'swimming trunks down - Gunter' I kept my loincloth on ", Sachs recalled in 2005 in his memoir.

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Romy Schneider: "A bare ass in every wave"

Others are less squeamish about it. Nudist bathing and playing volleyball without clothes is almost a good form at Buhne 16 for many prominent guests. Not everyone likes it: "Every wave has a bare ass," complains actress Romy Schneider - and only comes to Sylt once.

But most of them are always drawn to the North Sea island. From the have-nothing to the millionaire, in the huge parking lot in front of the beach entrance at Groyne 16, simple beetles are lined up with luxury cars. From there it goes straight to the beach, equipped with only the bare essentials: "They left the covers in the car, hopped over the dune and only had their portable radio on," remembers Hans-Dieter Tölke, then a taxi driver on the island.

Danced nights in the "Pony Club" and "Strönwai"

Gunter Sachs (2nd from right) was in goal at the charity game of the celebrity team "Pony Kampen". Also there: actor Günter Pfitzmann (left).

The small town of Kampen becomes the Saint-Tropez of the north. After sunbathing, it's time to party in the "Pony Club". In the classy discotheque on Kampen "Strönwai", better known to many as the "Whiskey Mile", the jet set often dances until dawn. The actors Heinz Rühmann and Curd Jürgens are regular guests as well as the Persian ex-Empress Soraya and the publisher Axel Springer.

Big money comes to the island with the rich and famous. Holidays on Sylt are very popular. Many locals rent their houses to summer visitors in the summer: "We cleaned the stable and slept there. We rented out the rooms in the house," remembers Claas Johannsen, who took over his parents' farm in the 1960s.

Luxury vacation spots with no locals

Axel Springer bought the Klenderhof in Kampen in the 1950s. In the meantime the property has changed hands.

The demand for holiday accommodation is huge - not just a blessing for many original islanders. Housing is becoming scarce and prices are skyrocketing. Often the prominent holiday guests not only want to rent, but also buy one of the thatched-roof houses as a weekend and holiday home. The result: entire villages are transformed into ghost towns, which are only busy in summer and on weekends. There are hardly any normal shops beyond the luxury brands in the celebrity settlements.

Kampen: Nowhere in Germany is housing more expensive

The demand for real estate remains unbroken to this day. Locals have not been able to afford the expensive houses for a long time. Two thirds of all houses in Kampen are now holiday villas. The place has the highest real estate prices in Germany.

The celebrities are still coming

Whether rich or less well-off, Sylt has remained a place of longing and a popular holiday destination to this day. The island recorded 4.6 million overnight stays in 2019. Celebrities still appreciate the island. Joachim Löw, Sabine Christiansen, Wolfgang Schäuble or Günther Jauch: the list of those who have already recovered on the island is long. But they now tend to spend their time withdrawn and are no longer as present in public as Gunter Sachs and entourage once did. The wild 60s and 70s with glitz and glamor are a thing of the past.

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mareTV | 05/23/2021 | 2:30 p.m.