Drama Masks

Franz Leis

Born in Potsdam, Germany in 1904. His mother was a school teacher and his father a butcher. He became a film technician after his interest in the nascent industry was encouraged by his mother, who took him to see films when his father was away on the Eastern Front. In those days, cinemas were showing  Vaterland  films, which were attempts to propagandize. It was the light entertainment shown with them, that enraptured Franz. He could never see enough.

He left school in 1921 and was taken on as an errand boy by UFA at their Babelsberg studio. Despite the difficult times and hyper inflation, the film industry was booming in the mid twenties. UFA was making hundreds of films a year. It was an opportunity for Franz, who was ambitious and personable. He rose through the ranks quickly.

While he was walking to work one morning he was struck by an epiphany of confidence. He realised that his ability to use objects for purposes other than for what they were originally intended, gave him the power to solve problems in imaginative ways. He continued to rise.

In 1927 he moved to Berlin and worked at the UFA Berlin-Tempelhof studios. He was the Prop Master on UFA's first sound film - Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel), filmed at Babelsberg. It was his blossoming reputation, especially after his contributions to Triumph des Willens (Triumph of The Will), that brought him to the attention of the upper echelons of The Nazi Party and finally to Adolf Hitler himself.

Inspired by Riefenstahl, The Führer was planning to direct a new feature film with UFA, now nationalised again, as the production company. The film was titled Die Seelenreise (The Soul Journey), commonly known as The Second World War. The budget seemed unlimited and the film was sure to leave UFA's most expensive film to date, Metropolis, far behind.

Franz was excited. This was the opportunity he had been striving for all his life. He was to be employed as prop man, actor and stunt driver.

Ironically this great opportunity would soon prove to be tragic.   

Ariadne

Ariadne was born in Smyrna, Turkey in 1922. Both her parents were killed that same year while fleeing the city which was under attack by Turkish forces. She was saved by another refugee and taken to Crete. Her surrogate mother also died, leaving her alone to fend for herself. During the war she was considered to be a traitor and collaborator because of her dalliances with both Italian and German troops. She did not see it that way but only as a means to survive.

After the war, in 1948, she emigrated to The United States and settled in Astoria, Queens, New York. She was married in 1950 to George Battaglio, a salesman for a tyre company. The marriage was short lived, due mainly to her husband's philandering and  heavy alcoholism. They had one son, Theo, a civil engineer in Columbus, Ohio.

She supported herself working in the clothing department of Bloomingdales department store until 1956, when she went to work as an assistant to Diana Vreeland at Harper's Bazaar. Diana was not an easy person to get along with but she opened up new vistas. Ariadne was inspired by the flamboyance and eccentricity, and she caroused with many influential figures from the worlds of art and politics. For the first time she could remember, she felt a relaxed contentment, unbound from an existence of reaction and a life reduced solely to survival. Things kept getting better as the sixties approached. She moved with Diana Vreeland to Vogue Magazine and she took up painting. She exhibited her work at the Leo Castelli Gallery on East 77th Street in New York.

Ariadne continued to live in Astoria for the rest of her life and did not marry again. She died of a heart attack in 1979.

Lord Strange

Born Guy Walsingham in 1874 in England. He was the illegitimate son of The Fourth Earl of G--------- and Edith Hewes, a maidservant. He never saw his father, who arranged for him as a newborn to be brought up in a succession of foster homes on the continent. He received a stipend, throughout his life, from the family estate.

At age nineteen, he attended Oxford University, where he studied medieval French. He later joined Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter on their dig at Thebes (1907-1911), but he left in 1908 after a disagreement over his methodology. There is a possibility that he had argued with Lord Carnarvon about a paternity issue, though there is no documentary evidence to support this.

Strange was partial to inventions and outright lies, so it is hard to differentiate fact from fiction in his life. He is known to have gone to Vladivostok in 1912, where he attended The Oriental Institute. He spent the war years (1914 - 1918) in China and Tibet. He settled on the island of Crete in the early 1920's, and stayed there until his disappearance in 1945.

In his later years he abandoned the fabrications of his youth and spoke nothing of himself. To people who came across him, it appeared that he had no past. He remained a lifelong bachelor.

 

Two Point Seven

Born in Bucharest, Romania in 1896 of Jewish-Romanian parents. He enrolled at the University of Bucharest in 1914 to study philosophy and mathematics. He abandoned his education in 1916, to write and paint. In 1917 he joined fellow compatriot avant-garde artists in Switzerland and became active in the Zurich Dada movement. He was a frequent participant in events at their gallery on Bahnhofstrasse 19 and was always seen with a large fur-covered ball, which he would carry in front of him with both hands, and never put down.

In 1919 he moved to Berlin, without the ball. He became friends with Hannah Höch and Raul Hausman, who enabled him to have one of his paintings exhibited at The First International Dada Fair - a portrait of an official with a grossly deformed face. This painting came back to haunt him, as it was displayed in the exhibition of Degenerate Art in 1937 and was used as a justification, along with his leftist politics, to have him interned in Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was put on a forced labour detail.

Two Point Seven stayed in the camp until June 1940, when he was removed for use on the Führer's new film. After that, he disappeared. There were uncorroborated sightings of him in Crete in 1945, but he remained an enigmatic figure with no recorded name.

It is possible that Two Point Seven was a purely fictitious character and never existed. If that is the case, then all of the above is a lie.

Alexis

Born in Crete in 1916, he grew up in Kandanos. He survived the massacre and burning of the village in 1941 and fled to Anogeia. From his base in the mountains he led a small resistance group, afilliated to the larger EAM (National Liberation Front). From between 1941 and 1945 he carried out numerous acts of sabotage and ambush against the occupiers, sometimes in conjunction with British Special Operations Forces that had remained on the island after the Allied withdrawal. Towards the end of 1944, he began to skirmish with other partisan groups that did not support the communist party. He was known in the area to be courageous and ruthless as well as an able healer.

In 1946 he took part in the civil war and was captured in 1948. After he was released from prison in 1975, he moved to Athens, where he ran an unlicenced medical clinic. He was awarded a state pension in 1981, for having served in the resistance during the occupation.

Alexis died in 1993. 

 

Daniel Noyes

Daniel Noyes was born in London in 1918. As a child he was fascinated with radio and tinkered endlessly with crystal sets. He went on to study physics at Imperial college, University of London. He was called up in 1939, but given a dispensation to finish his degree and joined the R.A.F. in 1940 as an officer in the Technical Intelligence division. He travelled widely in the war. His first posting was to Scotland, where he was in charge of the carrier pigeons at a signals station. He soon learned to hold them upside down. He visited the Congo and also Egypt, where he drove across the Sinai Desert. He was assigned to the U.S. army under General Patton for the invasion of Italy. Traveling with the Americans was a different way of life for him. Once, they entered a courtyard where wine was stored, and the thirsty G.I's shot the barrels full of holes. They let the wine spurt into their mouths. When they had drunk the place dry, they got back into their vehicles and gleefully drove away across fields of tomatoes. Daniel wondered how the tomato paste would taste the next year. 

He also took part in the invasion of France, and spent time in Greece, with three months on the island of Crete in 1945.

After the war he wanted to continue his studies in Physics at Cambridge but was passed over to allow previous students of the university to complete their education. He went to work for an oil company, where he stayed until his retirement in 1978. Every day during his lunch break he would visit The National Gallery. He got to know the paintings very well. He spent his retirement pursuing his interests of mathematics, music and travel. He visited the Soviet Union before the fall of The Iron Curtain and wanted to see power stations - much to the consternation of his Intourist guide.

He was married and had five children. He died in 2002. 

Italy 1945

North Africa 1943