11 May 1897
28 October 1944 (aged 47)
Kurt Gerron (May 11, 1897 – November 15, 1944) was a German Jewish actor and film director.
Born Kurt Gerson to Jewish parents in Berlin, Germany, Gerron initially studied medicine but became a stage actor in 1920. He appeared in such films as The Blue Angel opposite Marlene Dietrich, and on stage originated the role of Brown (the chief of police in London) in the premiere production of Die Dreigroschenoper in Berlin in 1928.
Gerron was offered a trip to Hollywood but refused and stayed behind in Europe. He later left Germany, traveling first to France and later to the Netherlands. There, he kept on working as an actor and director in several movies. After the German army occupied the Netherlands, he was interned in the transit camp at Westerbork before being sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp. There he ran a cabaret called The Karussell to entertain the inmates.
In 1944, Gerron was either persuaded or coerced by the Nazis to make a propaganda film showing how humane the conditions were at Theresienstadt. After shooting finished, Gerron was deported on the camp's final transport to Auschwitz. He was murdered immediately upon arrival. Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler did not order the gas chambers shut down until the next day.Gerron's film, supposed to have been titled either Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet (Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement) or Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt (The Führer Gives the Jews a City), was supposedly never completed and exists today only in fragmentary form
Gerron is the subject of three documentary films, Prisoner of Paradise and Kurt Gerrons Karussell and Tracks to Terezín with the survivor of the Holocaust Herbert Thomas Mandl. Mandl talks about Kurt Gerron as the director of the film Theresienstadt. Ein Dokumentarfilm aus dem jüdischen Siedlungsgebiet. The narrator in Kurt Gerrons Karussell, which stars Ute Lemper, is Roy Kift who has also written a play on Gerron's time in Theresienstadt entitled Camp Comedy. The play is published in The Theatre of the Holocaust edited by Professor Robert Skloot and published by the University of Wisconsin Press.
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