Subscription 790/year or 190/quarter

Harepus in Nazi land

Sonja Henie still creates a divide in the audience. And it's not easy to establish her reputation: Was she a heroine or a determined egoist?




(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)

To make a long story short, we can say that the women's ideal in the early 1900 century was not healthy: Corsets inhibited freedom of movement and hindered blood circulation, exposing the ladies to a host of health problems that at the time went by the term chlorosis, or puffiness. However, this ideal was the ideal of the old upper class from which the new, new bourgeoisie bore distance. Thus, the scene was cleared for the "flapper": a young woman who behaved uncannily. She could smoke, drive a car, dance to Negro music and practice sports – at all everything a lady in spe should not do. Sonja Henie, daughter of former competition cyclist and later fur trader Wilhelm Henie, was such a flapper. She spoke as vulgar as the sports guys at Frogner Stadium, she did tennis, swimming and horse riding – and she skated.

Sonja in Berlin Sportpalast 1930:

Harespuss

Her father and brother quickly discovered her talent. It was not necessarily the case that it had to be a skating race for Sonja, but it is possibly an explanation that skating was the only exercise women were allowed to practice in the Olympics in the 1920s. At the age of eleven, she received the final seat of eight participants in the 1924 Chamonix Olympics. It is unclear to what extent she was unjustly convicted of being a child. Already the same year she gave shows in Vienna and Berlin, and there was only one thing that stood in the head of Sonja and the father after the Olympics: She should be the best. And she was. She won superbly in figure skating in the three consecutive Winter Olympics, in St. Moritz, Lake Placid and Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

Henie revolutionized figure skating as a branch.

The reason for Sonja's success was that she revolutionized figure skating as a branch. It had been a stiff affair with technical duties – Sonja chose music herself and choreographed her performances to make them dance on ice. She wore thigh-short, tight-fitting suits that gave a completely different freedom of movement than before. These costumes may also have enthralled the audience. In Germany, she quickly became a success. The Germans regarded dance as the union of body and soul, and had never seen anything like blonde Sonja Henie's performances. They gave her the nickname "Häseken" (harepus).

SONJA DOES «STRIPER'N» IN BERLIN SPORTSPALAST 1935. NTB SCANPIX.

Like Kirsten Heiberg, who had a career as an actor and songwriter in Germany from 1938 on, Sonja Henie was neither a Nazi nor an anti-Nazi. She seized the opportunities that were offered, and it is important to remember that Norway had looked culturally to Germany right up to the Second World War – there we all sent with talent, so that it could be something out of them. Hitler and Goebbels were as enthusiastic as their people. The Nazis were keen on sports, not top sports, but they could not resist this Aryan princess who swam around on the ice like no one before her. Sonja smiled and refused, and was invited to lunch in the Eagle's Nest shortly before the 1936 Olympics. "Look here," says Dad Wilhelm. Sonja got this from Hitler. That was after the show in Munich a few weeks ago. Hitler was present and was very excited. After returning to the hotel, we were told that the driver wanted to welcome us. I must say he was gracious and interested. This made Sonja a reminder, says the proud father, showing a photograph of Der Führer with a beautiful dedication and a simple but stylish frame ”(Morgenbladet, January 31, 1936).

Tribute and protest

Sonja did the Hitler greeting and shouted "Heil!" before his appearance at the 1936 Olympics. In his revenge Queen of Ice, Queen of Shadows: The Unsuspected Life of Sonja Henie from 1985, big brother Leif says that this triggered protests in the Norwegian press. However, it was only a matter of a couple of letters. Not even Dagbladet, which in 1936 had long since marked itself as critical of Nazism, mentioned this. "It was clear outside Sonja Henie that today she did not intend to take the slightest risk," wrote anti-Nazi Arne Skouen.

Henie had a burning desire to be the best. And she was.

In retrospect, one should be a very sympathetic reader to find some criticism in that formulation. And for comparison we must remember that Leni Riefenstahls Olympia premiered in Oslo in October 1938. She was present herself, and the city's journalists swarmed around her like horny youngsters. Even the aforementioned Skouen admitted that he had trouble maintaining critical distance to the beautiful and superb Riefenstahl. King Haakon was at the premiere and afterwards there was a big banquet at the Grand Hotel. And on February 19, 1939, the academic winter games were opened by Crown Prince Olav at Sportsplassen in Lillehammer. Norwegian students proudly greeted German colleagues with "Sieg Heil!". Norwegians have always loved to accept other countries' greetings. When we come from France, there is triple masking on the cheek, and when we come from India, it is "namasté".

Sonja in Switzerland 1947:

American citizen

This was not where Sonja Henie lost the Norwegians. After winning three Olympics in a row, there was no more to strive for ambitious Sonja. She was offered to do shows in the United States, and they were a great success, and with her father's help, she got a contract with Twentieth Century Pictures in Hollywood. There were eventually eleven feature films between 1936 and 1948. All with jam-thin action to be able to show Sonja on the ice. For five of those years, she was the highest-ranked woman in Hollywood.

Sonja Henie
1936: Figure skater Sonja Henie became a professional after winning 10 World Cups and three Olympic championships – the last in 1936. After this she became an actress and also toured with her ice show. Here, Henie poses in glamorous style on a white car.
From the Scanpix archive.

In 1941 she became a US citizen. That same year, she said no to supporting the Norwegian resistance struggle through contributions to the Norwegian pilot school in Canada. "What has happened to Norway and the other countries that the Nazis conquered is sad. But I have my home in America now, and there I have my interests. " She never denied this hair-raising statement.

This came as a garnish on a move by Sonja Henie that the Norwegians could neither before nor now accept: as a superb winter sportsman, she never marketed herself as Norwegian. You do not do this unpunished. Sonja Henie had an unselfish confidence. She had a burning desire to be the best – and became. She was selfish, cynical, vulgar and insensitive. At the same time, she gave the world art races from another dimension, and later Norway a magnificent art museum very many have enjoyed.

So. What will be the verdict?


The picture above is from Henie's debut film in Hollywood One in a Million ("Queen of Ice"), 1936

Also read: A star that's hard to like

Kjetil Korslund
Kjetil Korslund
Historian of ideas and critic.

Give an answer

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment is processed.

Our ill-fated fate (ANTI-ODIPUS AND ECOLOGY)

PHILOSOPHY: Can a way of thinking where becoming, growth and change are fundamental, open up new and more ecologically fruitful understandings of and attitudes towards the world? For Deleuze and Guattari, desire does not begin with lack and is not desire for what we do not have. Through a focus on desire as connection and connection – an understanding of identity and subjectivity as fundamentally linked to the intermediate that the connection constitutes. What they bring out by pointing this out is how Oedipal desire and capitalism are linked to each other, and to the constitution of a particular form of personal identity or subjectivity. But in this essay by Kristin Sampson, Anti-Oedipus is also linked to the pre-Socratic Hesiod, to something completely pre-Oedipal. MODERN TIMES gives the reader here a philosophical deep dive for thought.

A love affair with the fabric of life

FOOD: This book can be described like this: «A celebration of stories, poetry and art that explores the culture of food in a time of converging ecological crises – from the devouring agricultural machine to the regenerative fermenting jar.»

On the relationship between poetry and philosophy

PHILOSOPHY: In the book The Poetics of Reason, Stefán Snævarr goes against a too strict concept of rationality: To live rationally is not only to find the best means to realize one's goals, but also to make life meaningful and coherent. Parts of this work should enter all disciplines concerned with models, metaphors and narratives.

The glow of utopia

PHILOSOPHY: the problem with a hopeful optimism is that it does not take the current climate crisis seriously enough and ends up accepting the state of affairs. But is there a hope and a utopia that hides a creative and critical force? MODERN TIMES takes a closer look at German Ernst Bloch's philosophy of hope. For the German Ernst Bloch, one must rediscover the fire in our concrete experience that anticipates possible futures in the real here and now.

Revisiting the real machine room

NOW: Barely 50 years after the publication of Anti-Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, the work has not lost its relevance according to the Norwegian magazine AGORA's new theme issue. Anti-Oedipus has rather proved to be a prophetic and highly applicable conceptual toolbox for the examination of a financial and information capitalist contemporary. In this essay, reference is also made to the book's claim that there is no economy or politics that is not permeated to the highest degree by desire. And what about the fascist where someone is led to desire their own oppression as if it meant salvation?

Self-staging as an artistic strategy

PHOTO: Frida Kahlo was at the center of a sophisticated international circle of artists, actors, diplomats and film directors. In Mexico, she was early on a tehuana – a symbol of an empowered woman who represents a different ideal of women than that rooted in traditional marianismo. But can we also see the female stereotypes 'whore' and 'madonna' in one and the same person?

We live in a collective dream world

ESSAY: The Bible, according to Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff: The testaments in the Bible are related to a "peculiar mixture of Babylonian mythology, myths, and historical falsification". For him, no religion has produced as many monstrous claims as Christianity, and none has taken the same for self-evident truths to the same extent. Neutzsky-Wulff is fluent in ten languages ​​and claims that no external world is opposed to the internal. Moreover, with a so-called subjective 'I' we are prisoners in a somatic prison. Possible to understand?

Why do we always ask why men commit acts of violence, instead of asking why they don't allow it?

FEMICID: Murders of women do not only occur structurally and not only based on misogynistic motives – they are also largely trivialized or go unpunished.

Old new in new packaging

MEMORIES: Nostalgia has been made into a commercial product that makes the past a constant and pressing presence. Do we really belong in a past tense? Memories are today produced, preserved and managed by commercial actors, by cultural products – which, to say it with Marx, are fetishized. Pop cultural products of the past are recycled, made into collectibles and picture books for the coffee table, sold as retro designs.

The iguaca parrots no longer sing

THE CLIMATE CRISIS: This book makes all other climate literature seem dangerously anthropocentric. We obviously haven't been very good at monitoring the earthly paradise.

A mentality from the Cold War era

INTELLIGENCE: In the United States, 18 different U.S. agencies at the government level are engaged in intelligence activities. In 1996 there were 6 million decisions to declassify material – by 2016 this had grown to 55 million!

A mental and military turning point

GERMANY: How 'war-ready' should a country be? With a number of top positions in international politics, crisis management and security, security expert Carlo Masala is regarded as an undeniable authority in the field.
- Advertisement -spot_img

You may also likeRelated
Recommended