US entertainer Barbra Streisand performed in Germany for the first time Saturday at a sell-out concert in Berlin. The Jewish singer's refusal to perform there in the past is said to be linked to Germany's Nazi history.
Streisand said she couldn't believe she needed so long to come to Germany
Streisand, who performed in Germany Saturday for the first time in her 47-year career, seemed to be overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response given her by the clapping, waving 18,000 fans in Berlin's open air Waldbühne area.
"I can't believe it took me so long to come here," the 65-year-old diva, dressed in black and speaking in flawless German, said. "I'm so very happy to be in your country."
Streisand with her son Jason Gould and husband James Brolin in Paris
Streisand, who recited a favorite poem of hers by Goethe, listed things she likes about Germany -- from currywurst to apple strudel, Bach, Brecht and Albert Einstein.
The singer performed some of her best-known hits, "Evergreen," "Come Rain or Shine," "The Time of Your Life" and "You don't bring me Flowers."
"I feel very good here. I'm always amazed how music can transcend all our differences. Even though I may complain about certain things, I've come to look at the glass as half full," she said.
German past reason for singer's refusal to perform
The Jewish crooner has been dogged by speculation in Germany that her refusal to sing here in the past has had to do with the country's responsibility for the Holocaust.
Streisand had turned down several invitations by Paul Spiegel, the leader of Germany's Jewish community who died last year, to sing in Germany.
A top talent agent credited with bringing several international performers to Germany, Spiegel said before his death that one of his biggest regrets had been his failure to get Streisand.
"I would have loved to have her in Germany. In my eyes, she's simply the greatest entertainer. But she simply did not want to come," Spiegel said in a 2002 interview with Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel.
The late Paul Spiegel regretted his failure in getting Streisand to Germany
Spiegel said that though he didn't agree with her decision he could understand it.
"…Germany today is no longer the country it was in 1945. Nevertheless, one has to accept that there are people of Jewish faith forced to leave who refuse to set foot on German soil again," he said.
Though Streisand has not commented on her reasons for not coming to Germany, she said in a statement to Reuters this week: "Germany is a very different place than it was before World Two."
One of the best-selling female artists, Streisand remains immensely popular in Germany. The steep prices for her tickets -- as much as 500 euros ($677) -- hardly raised eyebrows in Germany unlike in other countries on her tour of Europe.
On Sunday, Germany's media was full of praise for her concert. The mass-selling Bild am Sonntag paper called her performance "the concert event of the year."
The singer, who had never played outside North America except for London and Australia, is on her first Europe tour that takes her to eight cities. Berlin was the third stop after Zurich and Paris.
"You are the America we love"
Earlier this week, Streisand was awarded France's highest civilian honor after her first concert in the country.
Streisand with Sarkozy in Paris
French President Nicolas Sarkozy presented the star with the Legion of Honor at a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
"You are the America that we love," said Sarkozy. "Women like you... do a lot to bring our two peoples together."
Streisand told the recently elected leader he reminded her of former US presidents John F Kennedy and Bill Clinton, "who appreciated art and recognized the importance of the arts in the world."