by Kai Wessel
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It is the year 1966. Hildegard Knef comes back to Germany. She is at the peak of her career and is about to perform a concert at Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall. Her appearance marks the first non-classical show ever to be performed in the brand new 2,400-seater concert hall and tickets have been sold out for weeks. It is nonetheless a difficult comeback, with a long and complex history. When her plane arrives in Berlin-Tempelhof she is met by a crowd of enthusiastic journalists. Hilde’s back! – and she’s well prepared. Her gait is purposeful, breezy even, and she puts in a self-confident and witty appearance at a short press conference. Hildegard Knef knows what she wants. She is a professional, a star who doesn’t let anything on. In spite of her euphoric reception in 1966, her trip back to Germany is a depressing one in many ways. Berlin may be the city in which Hildegard Knef grew up and celebrated some of her greatest successes, but it is also the site of her most bitter failures.