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Heinrich George

Foto: Hugo Erfurth (1874-1948)

1893 - 1946

The actor Heinrich George was born as Heinrich Georg Schulz in Stettin. The young Heinrich George, who already as a child was stocky, lived only for his violin play. Later he was sent to serve his apprenticeship with a Stettiner town council. But the dream of George was to conduct a great orchestra. After permanent complaints of his town council George's father sent him to Berlin. There he got in touch with the theater as he took on casual works as an extra. His new dream took shape: The acting. His father didn't agree with his wish but his mother supported his intention. Now his life went on in rapid succession. At the age of 19 he was engaged in Kolberg, half a year later he went to a circus, after another three months he acted at the Stadttheater of Bromberg. At the age of 20 he closed a contract with the Hoftheater in Neustrelitz, with 21 he was called up into World War I where he sustained a serious injury. In 1917 he was dismissed on the basis of war unfitness. Further brief successive engagements followed till the great Max Reinhardt engaged him to Berlin.
He soon became established as a complex character actor. In 1923 he founded together with Elisabeth Bergner and Alexander Granach the Schauspieltheater in order to be more independent from the big theaters. Finally it was only a question of time till the film business came to knock at his door. 
He made his film debut with "Der Roman der Christine Herre" (21), it soon followed other big productions like "Lady Hamilton" (21), "Kean" (21), "Lucrezia Borgia" (22), "Lola Montez, die Tänzerin des Königs" (22), "Fridericus Rex" (23), "Der Mensch am Wege" (23) and "Soll und Haben" (24).
In the 2nd part of the 20s he became a regular leading actor and his interests into the film business grew because of the possibility to interpret roles in movies in another way than on stage. 
He had his breakthrouhg with Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (26) in role of the foreman.
Other productions followed with "Überflüssige Menschen" (26), "Orientexpress" (27), "Bigamie" (27), "Der Mann mit dem Laubfrosch" (28) and "Der Sträfling aus Stambul" (29).
On account of his great success in Germany he was engaged to Hollywood in 1931 where he acted in two German-language versions of American movies.
After his return to Germany he got married with actress Berta Drews in 1933. Their son Götz George became also an expressive player who who is as successful in Germany as his father was. 
But the future of Heinrich George's filmcareer remained in Germany. Here he was able to impersonate impressvie roles he interpreted visually and physically.
When the political situation in Germany came to a head, George first was prohibited to work as an actor because for his sympathy for the Communists. But he soon came to an agreement with the NS regime und took over an active role in the propaganda machinery. This enabled him to continue his film career and he was convincing besides propaganda productions like "Hitlerjunge Quex" (33) with his performances in "Das Mädchen Johanna" (35), "Der Biberpelz" (37) and "Das unsterbliche Herz" (39).
At the same time he stand up for so-called unwanted people of the Third Reich who he contracted for the Schillertheater as director of it.
Till the end of the war followed both entertainment and propaganda movies like "Der Postmeister" (40), "Jud Süss" (40), "Friedrich Schiller" (40), "Andreas Schlüter" (42), "Der Verteidiger hat das Wort" (44) and "Kolberg" (44).
The cooperation in propaganda movies and his public appearances for the NS regime had momentous consequences after the war.
The Russian intelligence NKWD imprisoned Heinrich George and he had been interned in Hohenschönhausen, later in Sachsenhausen where he was confronted with harassments by Russian officers. The once goodly Heinrich George lost a lot of weight. It seems that he had to undergo an appendectomy because of decomposed food, but died two days later. Other sources assume that the real cause of death was a famina oedema and that the operations was forged as an extenuation. 
After the end of the war Heinrich George had been arrested in 1946. He was interned in Hohenschönhausen, later in Sachsenhausen where he was confronted with harassments by Russian officers. The once portly Heinrich George lost a lot of weight and had to undergo an appendectomy becaus of bad food. But the medical treatment was delayed as long as the operation was too late. Heinrich George died two days after the operation.
Only in 1994 they found the remains of Heinrich George in a forest because of a hint of a cell mate. Due to a DNA analysis he could be identified. He found his last resting-place at the cemetry of Berlin-Zehlendorf.

Other movies with Heinrich George:
Die Perlen der Lady Harrison (1922) Das fränkische Lied (1922) Erdgeist (1923) Die Sonne von St. Moritz (1923) Quarantäne (1923) Steuerlos (1924) Zwischen Morgen und Morgen (1924) She/Mirakel der Liebe (1925) Das Panzergewölbe (1926) Die versunkene Flotte (1926) Das Meer (1927) Die Ausgestossenen (1927) Die Leibeigenen (1927) Die Dame mit der Maske (1928) Song/Schmutziges Geld (1928) Das letzte Souper/Der Schuss in der grossen Oper (1928) Das letzte Fort (1928) Rutschbahn (1928) Kinder der Strasse (1928) Manolescu (1929) Sprengbagger 1010 (1929) Der Andere (1930) Menschen im Käfig (1930) 1914, die letzten Tage vor dem Weltbrand (1930) Der Mann, der den Mord beging/Nächte am Bosporus (1930) Menschen hinter Gittern (1931) Wir schalten um auf Hollywood (1931) Goethe lebt...! (1932) Das Meer ruft (1933) Schleppzug M 17 (1933) Reifende Jugend (1933) Hermine und die sieben Aufrechten (1934) Nacht der Verwandlung (1935) Stützen der Gesellschaft (1935) Die grosse und die kleine Welt (1936) Wenn der Hahn kräht (1936) Stjenka Rasin (1936) Ball im Metropol (1937) Versprich mir nichts! (1937) Unternehmen Michael (1937) Ein Volksfeind (1937) Es leuchten die Sterne (1938) Frau Sylvelin (1938) Heimat (1938) Sensationsprozess Casilla (1939) Pedro soll hängen (1939) Schicksal (1942) Hochzeit auf Bärenhof (1942) Der grosse Schatten (1942) Wien 1910 (1942) Die Degenhardts (1944) Solistin Anna Alt/Wenn die Musik nicht wär' (1944) Frau über Bord/Das Mädchen Juanita (1945)