Mercedes Webb-Pullman ~ Leni

We’d started shooting my movie
in Spain, but war moved us back
to Germany. I’d cast gypsies
in important roles. The Third Reich
paid all my bills. Grocer Goebbels
offered me prisoners, no employing
paid extras. They were in the camps
already. I didn’t put them there.

I chose them myself, from the temporary
prison at Maxglan, filmed them in the Alps,
dancing; visions of joy and purity connected
to the mystic, majestic mountains, not
the grubby struggle on the plains.

Difficult filming, placing a camera on rails
to follow movement. Cutting these with
slow motion shots, high and low angles,
panoramic aerial shots, tracking shots
for following fast action. Always
running behind schedule.

The script called for more gypsies, interior
scenes shot at Babelsberg. This time I chose
from inmates of the Marzahn prison.
When I’d finished with them they went back
to their camps. I realize now, most
went on to Auschwitz.

I didn’t at the time. I couldn’t have changed
what happened, anyway.

‘I was one of millions who thought Hitler had all
the answers. We saw only the good things,
we didn’t know bad things
were to come.’

* quote Leni Riefenstahl in 80’s BBC interview


Mercedes Webb-Pullman graduated from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand with her MA in Creative Writing. She is the author of Tasseography (2014) Track Tales (Truth Serum Press, 2017) and The Jean Genie (Hammer & Anvil Books, 2018). Her poems, and the odd short story, have appeared online (Bone Orchard Poetry, Caesura, Connotations, Danse Macabre, The Electronic Bridge, 4th Floor, Main Street Rag, Otoliths, Reconfigurations, Scum, Swamp, Pure Slush, Turbine, among others) and in print (Mana magazine, Poets to the People; Poetry from Lembas Cafe 2009, The 2010 Readstrange Collection, PoetryNZ Yearbook, many anthologies from Kind of a Hurricane Press, and the Danse Macabre anthologies Amour Sombre and Hauptfriedhof (Hammer & Anvil Books, 2017). She has also won the Wellington Cafe Poetry contest in 2010, and wrote a foreword for their collection of 2012 contest entrants, which included another of her poems. Since then she has been awarded 3rd prize in United Poets Laureate International Poetry Contest 2015, and is particularly proud of having a haiku (the only one from New Zealand) in 100 Haiku for Peace, an international publication in five languages. Her lucky number is 8. Blue. She lives in Paraparaumu Beach, New Zealand.

Read more of Mercedes’ seasonal poetry in DM 118 SCHNEETAG @

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