Elvis exhibit brings 'the King' back to Germany

A German man gazes reverently at a silver can of deodorant and a white bottle of "high potency" antacid. He knows that these two items, on display at a Berlin exhibition, once belonged to his hero, "the King."

Elvis exhibit brings 'the King' back to Germany
A German man gazes reverently at a silver can of deodorant and a white bottle of "high potency" antacid. He knows that these two items, on display at a Berlin exhibition, once belonged to his hero, "the King."

With thinning black hair slicked back Elvis-style, the Berlin-born man was sporting a silk shirt with the smiling face of Elvis Presley across the back and an Elvis shoulder bag. "Elvis is definitely getting bigger in Germany," the 43-year-old, who identified himself as Freddy, told Reuters. "It's not just the older people, it's the younger ones too. He's making a comeback here."

Freddy was one of hundreds of visitors who flocked to Berlin's Ellington Hotel to see the biggest collection of original Elvis memorabilia ever shown outside the United States to commemorate the king's death 30 years ago on Aug. 16, 1977. A quick glance at the visitors proved Freddy's point. While many were clearly in their 50s or 60s, there were dozens of 20- and 30-somethings eager to see Elvis' suits, suede coat, rings, sunglasses, bedspread, car keys and other personal items. One younger fan at the exhibition unbuttoned his shirt and showed reporters a tattoo of Elvis' face emblazoned on his chest.

Elvis holds a special place in Germans' hearts. Not only did he have distant German roots but he spent 1-1/2 years from 1958 to 1960 in West Germany while serving in the US Army. The town of Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt, where Elvis was stationed, has an Elvis Presley Square (Elvis-Presley-Platz) and remains a tourist destination for serious Elvis fans.

Franz Josef Wagner, a columnist for Germany's top-selling newspaper Bild, attempted to recall what Elvis meant for Germans rebuilding their occupied country after the war. He wrote: "It's summer 50 years ago. The Second World War is over and on the radio -- it's the Armed Forces Network, the US military broadcaster -- I hear 'My Happiness'." For Germans like Wagner, Elvis was the "most radical person of the 20th century and all the others since were imitators." "When I drive my car today and hear 'My Happiness' I find myself on the verge of tears," he wrote in his column.

Ahead of the anniversary of Elvis' death, 11 German comic-book illustrators collaborated on a German-language graphic biography of the King. Germany's Foreign Ministry got in on the act. On its Web site the ministry posted a reminder about Elvis' death and an article about the German illustrated biography. Ger-many's Elvis celebrations didn't stop on Thursday. Bad Nauheim is hosting the 6th European Elvis Festival from Aug. 16 to 19. Bild's Wagner summed up the feeling of many Elvis fans across the country when he concluded: "He changed my life. Definitely more than Mozart."


Reuters
Last Mod: 17 Ağustos 2007, 12:12
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