11 V 1897, Berlin — 28 X 1944, KL Auschwitz-Birkenau

BACK

PL  |  DE  |  ENG  |  UKR

Biography

Kurt Gerron was a well-known actor and director in pre-war Germany. In the Theresienstadt ghetto, he created a cabaret and, commissioned by the Nazis, directed a film showing the “humane” conditions in the camps.

He was born on 11 May 1987 in Berlin. He began studying medicine, but his plans were thwarted by the outbreak of World War I. Injured on the frontline, he was able to withdraw from the fighting and began working as a doctor in a hospital. Once the war ended, he tried to continue his medical career, but his interests had changed in 1920. He made his début in a cabaret, and shortly thereafter went on to act on the stage and taking supporting roles in silent movies. Soon, he also began getting roles in sound films. He is best remembered as the magician Kiepert in Der blaue Engel (“The Blue Angel”), a 1930 film directed by Josef von Sternberg, in which Gerron appeared alongside Marlene Dietrich. He was also a critically acclaimed director.

When the Nazis took power in Germany, he first left for France and then for the Netherlands, where he continued his artistic career. However, it was cut short when the German army reached the Netherlands. Gerron still continued to organise a cabaret in the Westerbork camp where he was interned. This continued after his transportation to the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto. He appeared in the cabaret Karussell (“Carousel”), where he attempted to give the prisoners a glimpse of their former, lost, lives.

In 1944, he was forced by the Nazis to make the propaganda film about the Theresienstadt ghetto titled: Theresienstadt Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet (“Theresienstadt: A Documentary Film on the Jewish Resettlement”), later known as Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (“The Führer Gives the Jews a City”). The film was supposed to convince the international public opinion that the conditions in the camps were “humane”. Kurt Gerron never finished the film, and only some of the footage survived. Once the shooting was finished, Gerron, his wife, and other artists, were all sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. He died in the gas chamber.

Kurt Gerron was a well-known actor and director in pre-war Germany. In the Theresienstadt ghetto, he created a cabaret and, commissioned by the Nazis, directed a film showing the “humane” conditions in the camps.

He was born on 11 May 1987 in Berlin. He began studying medicine, but his plans were thwarted by the outbreak of World War I. Injured on the frontline, he was able to withdraw from the fighting and began working as a doctor in a hospital. Once the war ended, he tried to continue his medical career, but his interests had changed in 1920. He made his début in a cabaret, and shortly thereafter went on to act on the stage and taking supporting roles in silent movies. Soon, he also began getting roles in sound films. He is best remembered as the magician Kiepert in Der blaue Engel (“The Blue Angel”), a 1930 film directed by Josef von Sternberg, in which Gerron appeared alongside Marlene Dietrich. He was also a critically acclaimed director.

When the Nazis took power in Germany, he first left for France and then for the Netherlands, where he continued his artistic career. However, it was cut short when the German army reached the Netherlands. Gerron still continued to organise a cabaret in the Westerbork camp where he was interned. This continued after his transportation to the Terezín (Theresienstadt) ghetto. He appeared in the cabaret Karussell (“Carousel”), where he attempted to give the prisoners a glimpse of their former, lost, lives.

In 1944, he was forced by the Nazis to make the propaganda film about the Theresienstadt ghetto titled: Theresienstadt Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet  (“Theresienstadt: A Documentary Film on the Jewish Resettlement”), later known as Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (“The Führer Gives the Jews a City”). The film was supposed to convince the international public opinion that the conditions in the camps were “humane”. Kurt Gerron never finished the film, and only some of the footage survived. Once the shooting was finished, Gerron, his wife, and other artists, were all sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. He died in the gas chamber.


Theresienstadt. A documentary from the Jewish Settlement Area („Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet”)

A propaganda film that Kurt Gerron was forced to shoot in Theresienstadt. The film was later known as The Führer gifts a town to the Jews („Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt”). It was supposed to show the „humanitarian conditions” in Theresienstadt ghetto.

Stills from Josef von Sternberg’s „The Blue Angel” film where Kurt Gerron starred with, among others, Marlene Dietrich: