What Happened to The Girl Who Shocked The World in The 70s?

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By: Lauren Wurth | Published: Jan 22, 2023

Christiane Vera Felscherinow, more famously known as Christiane F., shocked the entire world in the early 1970s as she revealed how she became a part of the underworld of drugs and crime at the tender age of 13 through a book, television miniseries, and even a film which garnered viewers across the globe.

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Check out her story and her whereabouts now.

She is Christiane F. 

Although she became utterly infamous for her autobiography and film, Christiane F. came from humble beginnings. In the second largest city of Germany–known for its art museums and eye-catching 19th-century neighborhood architecture–Hamburg, in the wee hours of May 20, 1962, Christiane Vera Felscherinow was born. 

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With brunette hair and hazel eyes, she was bound to be a stunner and a heartbreaker when she grew up.

The Division

In the 1970s, The Berlin Wall separated Germany. It came to be known as the ‘Iron Curtain’ across the globe and divided Germany into the East and West. This was done to prevent the intermingling of the people from both sides.

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It was one of the symbols of the Cold War that came to be known in our history books.  At this point, Hamburg–Christiane’s hometown–was on the West side of Germany.

Problems in Hamburg

These days Hamburg is known for its beauty and buzz as a metropolitan area, but when Christiane was born, there were rampant crime cases in the city. 

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Although the police reported a decrease in violent crimes at that time, there was a concerning growth of theft and forgery compared to the previous years. In addition, juvenile cases and foreign criminals also added problems to the police force. 

Forerunner of Culture

Amidst the reports of crime in the city, Hamburg had something more to offer. It boasted its influence on the world as one of the cornerstones of rock music. Defined by rhythm, rock music gives a strong beat, breathing unique life into a song. 

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Hamburg’s flourishing growth in the music scene–with many rock bands in residence–made it a perfect place for music enthusiasts all over the globe.  

The Most Influential Band of All Time

True to its fame as a hotspot for rock bands, a name known throughout history was a regular in the city of Hamburg.

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The Beatles, who still hold the title of the ‘Most Influential Band of All Time’ known for their hit songs such as “Hey Jude,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Let it Be,” and a lot more–frequently visited Christiane Felscherinow’s hometown for concerts before they became famous worldwide. 

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A New Chapter 

When Christiane F. was only six years old, her family decided to move to another city in Germany–West Berlin. They resided in Gropiusstadt, which was a neighborhood in one of the city-states of Berlin–Neukölln. 

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Her parents, who were already in a rocky relationship, added a forming problem in the growth of Christiane as a child. Along with the present social problems in their new city Christiane F. faced a lot at a young age.

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The Split

There was already brewing tension within the couple. Christiane’s father’s addiction to alcohol and abuse towards both her and her younger sister, along with her mother’s extra-marital affair, certainly did not improve their family development and growth. 

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Her parents’ separation was bound to happen soon–it was inevitable. The couple parted ways near the end of the 1960s, making Christiane’s life take a completely different path. 

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Bad Influence

With her father out of the scene, Christiane lived in a small apartment with her mother, sister, and pet cat.

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Already tired of living in the tiny and unkempt place, her life took a dip when she entered a nightclub in high heels and make-up to appear older at only the age of 13. It was there that she started to smoke hashish, a hallucinogenic drug, along with her friends. 

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Rise From the Ashes

From drugs to prostitution, Christiane’s life wasn’t something that a girl in the tender years of youth should have experienced. But despite all of her struggles and problems, she was able to redeem herself as she grew older and matured into the woman she is today. 

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Her autobiography entitled: Christiane F. Autobiography of a Girl of the Streets and Heroin Addict garnered international fame and was later adapted into a television series and then into a film.  

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The Railway Station

Her circle of friends and their antics made Christiane’s life slip further and further down the road. Their favorite spot was the city’s railway station–Bahnhof Zoo, where the book’s happenings mostly revolved.

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Despite being the most important station of the city, its back alleys and underpasses served as an infamous spot for prostitution and drug trades. She even began to sell herself in imitation of what her lover, Detlev, did.  

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Her Autobiography

Discovered by two journalists in an interview as a witness to a trial, Felscherinow’s story was shared with the world through tape-recorded interviews. It was later published as a book that served as her autobiography. ©Shutterstock

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The book gained fame across the globe because not only did it tell the story of a young girl and her troubles in life, but it also mirrored the state of the proud city of West Berlin at that time. 

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The Journalists

Kai Herrmann and Horst Rieck wrote Christiane F.’s autobiography together as they were the journalists who first interviewed Christiane. The two were interested in disclosing the topic of teenagers’ drug use in Berlin.

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Little did they know that they were in for one of the biggest hit stories of all time. As soon as Christiane started her story, the two writers were hooked and knew that two hours was not enough to unfold Christiane’s tragic life. 

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Guest Star

The book garnered so much attention that a film was created in dedication to it in 1981. A lot of the scenes were shot in the actual areas of Christiane’s neighborhood Gropiusstadt and the famed Bahnhof Zoo. 

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Felscherinow was such a fan of David Bowie that the star was invited to appear as a guest in the movie. Bowie was also the one who provided the soundtrack of the movie. 

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The Actress

Even after a few decades, the film still holds significance as an eye-opener to the happenings of the social community. Even the actress who played the role of Christiane–Vera Felscherinow is still remembered now. 

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Natja Brunckhorst, who was 13 years old at the time, portrayed her role to perfection. However, her popularity made her shy away from public attention to the point that she chose to attend a school in England. 

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Stellar Success

The film did not fall short of the popularity of the book. On the contrary, it was so famed that it even held a cult status with a dedicated cult following composed of a passionate fan base and elaborate subcultures.

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It became a household name. The film was further boosted in popularity due to the special appearance of the phenomenal star David Bowie as himself in a concert in the first part of the movie. 

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Worldwide Fame

Christiane became a star when she was still in her early teens. Known as the most famous heroin addict in the world, she catapulted into fame thanks to the success of both her film and book.

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But instead of turning over a new leaf, it seems that the star only improved her place of conduct as she continued to inject heroin with other celebrities dubbing her “Junkie Princess.”

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She Lives

Contrary to other people’s expectations of an early death due to her substance abuse, Christiane still lives. Now 60 years old, the actress-musician continues to beat the odds against those expecting her to fall. But unfortunately, although gifted with the blessing of continued life, she does not have perfect health. .

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In an interview in 2013, Felscherinow revealed that her health was failing due to the repercussions of having contracted Hepatitis C back in her youth

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The Interview

In a 2013 interview, Christian revealed a glimpse of her life while the movie was gaining massive popularity. She stated that the overnight success came unexpectedly to a teenage girl such as herself.

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She did the interview when she was only 16 years old. It served as her kind of therapy. Little did she know that her story would catapult her into a world she never knew she could be involved in. 

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David Bowie

As a fan of David Bowie, Christiane admitted in the interview that the cause of her anxiety was her anticipation of meeting her long-time idol. 

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She even revealed that at the time of their meeting, she took in a larger-than-usual amount of cocaine to help her with the excitement. But she became disappointed as soon as she saw Bowie. “He had a beard, and he was so skinny and small.”

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Missing Parts

When asked about the accuracy of the film, Christiane confirmed its credibility but disclosed that she didn’t really like the film that much. She stated it failed to portray how she was neglected by her abuser and alcohol-addict father and her mother, who did nothing to help her.

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It did not ultimately show how the 13-year-old Christiane back then felt so alone in the world and how she struggled to somehow belong with the world. 

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An Exhibit?

The film made her story a paradigm of the struggles of teenage drug addicts. Her name held a strong significance in the social world and even became a household name. Although she was undeniably popular at that time, the people kept her at arm’s length.

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They weren’t interested in her as a person. She was even sure the people were betting on when she would pass on. They only looked at her as an exhibit–the famous drug addict.

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Feelings of Regret

Christiane also revealed in the interview that even though the success was unexpected, this came along with deeply rooted feelings of regret. Her popular story made connecting with people on a more intimate level difficult and even impossible. 

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She came with a gruesome past and felt that others did not want to truly associate themselves with her. These feelings of disappointment made her rue birthing the book and the film. 

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Life Continues

After the release of both her book and movie, Christiane Felscherinow moved to Zurich, where she spent her days attending literature events and spiraling back to her addiction to heroin in the so-called Disney World for junkies–Platzspitz, Zurich. 

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The park was renowned as an open-air drug place in Europe and was dubbed as the biggest of them all. She admitted that she found herself staying there for weeks. 

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Continued Addiction

Although she made efforts to avoid drugs, Christiane admitted that she could never truly part ways with the substance. In the interview, she stated that she never really wanted to stop.

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After all, it was the only thing she ever knew. She was so true to herself that she didn’t need to live up to people’s expectations of her. So, who is there to stop her from doing what she loves?

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Second Autobiography

The part of the population–especially teens–who were bewitched by the adventures of Christiane F.  didn’t get the message of the first book. Instead, some were rather inspired by the junkie life that she led. 

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That’s why in the interview, she revealed that she had written a second autobiography entitled: My Second Life with hopes that the readers would not glorify her past and would finally be able to realize her message this time. 

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Untold Stories

Her second book, which was published in 2013, tells the more gruesome consequences of the life she led as the “Junkie Princess” and the brutal reality of incurring Hepatitis C in the 1980s, which led her to have a weak liver and a guaranteed painful death. 

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Although Christiane does not recommend going down the same path as her, she has no regrets as she has truly lived her life to the fullest. 

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The Girl Who Lived

Christiane Vera Felscherinow’s story tells us of the grim and harsh reality of the world, unbeknownst to the eyes of the common population. It served as a lesson and an eye-opening book. 

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It instills in us the incredible prowess of how a teenage girl at the young age of 13 wades through her life despite being embroiled in the world of drugs and prostitution and how she survived it and lived to tell the tale. 

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