75 jaar geleden: dood in het concentratiekamp Sachsenhausen, toen een Sovjetkamp, van de beroemde theater- en filmacteur Heinrich George (52). The cause of his death was starvation, even though official reports stated that he died “after an appendix operation” (foto Hugo Erfurth, 1930).

George is noted for having spooked (to spook someone = iemand laten schrikken, RDS) the young Bertolt Brecht in his first directing job, a production of Arnolt Bronnen‘s Parricide (1922), when he refused to continue working with the director. He appeared in Fritz Lang‘s Metropolis (1927) and Dreyfus (1930), as well as starring in Berlin Alexanderplatz (1931). On 12 October 1932, he changed his legal name (Georg August Friedrich Hermann Schulz) to his stage name George.

George was an active member of the Communist party during the Weimar Republic. He worked with theatre director Erwin Piscator and playwright Bertolt Brecht, both of whom identified with the political left. After the Nazi takeover, George was classified as a “non-desirable” actor at first because of his earlier political affiliations and was thus barred from working in cinematic productions. However, he was eventually able to reach an accommodation with the Nazi regime. In 1937, George was designated as a Staatsschauspieler (i.e. an actor of national importance) and in 1938 was appointed director of the Schiller Theater in Berlin. George actively collaborated with the Nazis and agreed to star in Nazi propaganda films such as Hitler Youth Quex (1933), Jud Süß (1940), and Kolberg (1945) as well as appearing in numerous newsreels.

George had a stocky build and a Berlin accent which made him readily recognizable to German audiences. George’s prestige as a leading actor of the day made him an “extraordinarily valuable catch for the Nazis.” Cooke and Silberman describe him as “the actor most closely tied with fascist fantasies of the autocratic and the populist leader”.

Although Heinrich George had been a member of the Communist Party of Germany before the Nazi takeover, he was nonetheless interned as a Nazi collaborator by Soviet occupying forces at the NKVD special camp Nr. 7 in Sachsenhausen where he died in 1946. In 1998 wordt hij door Rusland gerehabiliteerd. (Wikipedia & Doorbraak)

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