Fritz Diez

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Not to be confused with the West German industrialist Fritz Dietz.

Fritz Diez
Fritz Diez.jpg
Fritz Diez
Born Friedrich Diez
(1901-02-27)February 27, 1901
Meiningen, Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen, German Empire
Died October 19, 1979(1979-10-19) (aged 78)
Weimar, German Democratic Republic
Occupation Actor, producer, director
Years active 1920–1979
Spouse(s) Martha Beschort

Fritz Diez (27 February 1901 – 19 October 1979) was a German actor, producer, director and theater manager.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

The Meiningen Theater.

Diez's mother was a servant, and raised her three children alone. To support his family, the child began working at the age of nine. While on the 7th grade, he appeared in his class' production of William Tell. In 1920, after joining the Meiningen Ducal Theater in the role of a supernumerary actor, Diez left his work as an electrician's apprentice and began taking acting classes in the Meiningen School of Dramatic Arts. He devoted himself to professional acting ever since, appearing on the stages of theaters in Flensburg, Hanau, Baden-Baden, Würzburg and Eger.[1] While performing in the Eisenach Theater, he met his future wife, actress Martha Beschort. The two married in 1923.[2]

During 1932, while he and Martha were working in the Stadttheater Bremerhaven, they both joined the KPD. Diez, who originally was a member of the Guild of the German Stage, joined the Profintern-oriented Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition and was elected as chairman of the theater's branch.[1]

Exile[edit]

On the morning of 28 February 1933, a day after the Reichstag fire, Diez's home was raided by the Gestapo. On 6 March, immediately after the elections, the actor was dismissed from his work for being a communist.[1] During 1935, Diez - fearing an interrogation by the Gestapo - had to emigrate from Germany.[3] He and his wife traveled to Switzerland, where he worked in the St. Gallen Theater. Diez became involved in the communist and anti-fascist circles of German exiles that were formed in the country.[2] The St. Gallen Theater's manager, Theo Modes, was a supporter of the Third Reich, and Diez was "completely isolated" in his place of work.[4] In 1943 he joined the Swiss branch of the recently founded National Committee for a Free Germany.[5] By the end of the war, Diez headed the St. Gallen fraction of the Democratic Union of Germans in Switzerland, an offshoot of the Committee.[6] He also edited this movement's newspaper.[2]

German Democratic Republic[edit]

Fritz Diez (second from the left) in 1966.

Diez returned to the Soviet-administered Meiningen in 1946. He worked in the municipal theater, first as an actor and later as a director and an artistic director.[2] In 1947, he was appointed its manager.[7] During 1952, he made his debut on screen in the DEFA film Shadow Over The Islands. He appeared in some twenty films until the end of his career, as well as in several television productions.[8]

In 1954, Diez left Meiningen, remaining an honorable member of the theater, and instead took the position of the Halle National Theater's manager.[9] On 1958 he joined the Dresden Theater as an actor and a director. During the 1960s, he performed and directed plays in the Volksbühne and in the Deutsches Theater. Diez was also a member of the German Shakespeare Society.[10]

The figure of Hitler, which he first portrayed in the Meiningen Theater during 1947, was described by Diez as an "ungrateful role which always seemed to pursue me."[1] He played the character on screen in seven different productions - Ernst Thälmann - Führer seiner Klasse (1955), I, Justice, Frozen Flashes (both 1967), Liberation (1970-1), Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973), Take Aim (1974) and Soldiers of Freedom (1977). Dilara Ozerova - the wife of Yuri Ozerov, who directed Liberation - claimed that Diez was reluctant to accept the invitation to depict Hitler in her husband's film series, fearing typecasting, but had to accept it as a "Party mission".[11] Author Charles P. Mitchell wrote that the actor was "Eastern Europe's equivalent to Bobby Watson in terms of the frequency of his Hitler appearances."[12]

In 1971, Diez received the Patriotic Order of Merit in silver.[13] On 9 October 1979, shortly before his death, he was awarded the title of an Honorary Citizen of Meiningen.[14]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1952 Shadow Over The Islands Arne Horn
1953 Swings Or Roundabouts Hellwand
1955 Ernst Thälmann Adolf Hitler
1956 Thomas Müntzer Field Captain Hoffmann
1959 Special Mission Captain Lieutenant Wegner
1959 The Goodies Weber
1959 The Punch Bowl State Secretary Frisch
1959 SAS 181 Does Not Reply The intendant
1959 Goods for Catalonia Captain Gerner
1960 Doctor Ahrendt's Decision Scholz
1960 Always on Duty Father Kraft
1960 Five Cartridges Major Bolaños
1963 Carbide and Sorrel Worker
1966 The Escape In The Silent Stetter
1967 Frozen Flashes Adolf Hitler
1967 I, Justice Adolf Hitler
1970 Liberation I: The Fire Bulge Adolf Hitler
1970 Liberation II: Breakthrough Adolf Hitler
1971 Liberation III: Direction of the Main Blow Adolf Hitler
1971 Liberation IV: The Battle of Berlin Adolf Hitler
1971 Liberation V: The Last Assault Adolf Hitler
1972 Hurray! We Are Going on a Vacation! Grandfather
1976 Take Aim Adolf Hitler/Otto Hahn
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1963 A Man and his Shadow Uncredited role
1963 Carl von Ossietzky Hellmut von Gerlach
1963 ' Blue Light Major Löbel Episode 18: Hot Money
1965 Moments of Joy Otto Meinicke
1966 Secret Unit Boomerang Uncredited role
1966 No Victory Without Struggle Hermann Abs
1967 Blue Light Dr. Döppke Episode 28:Night Patrol
1969 Three From the K The committee chief Episode 13: A Strange Case
1970 Tscheljuskin Valerian Kuybyshev
1973 Seventeen Moments of Spring Adolf Hitler Episodes no. 1, 3 and 5
1973 The Wondrous Treasure Judge
1974 New From Florentiner No. 73 Krawuttcke
1977 Soldiers of Freedom Adolf Hitler Four episodes
1978 Dangerous Inquiry Uncredited role Season 1, Episode 2: Death in the Alpsee
1980 Joy in the Rear Exit Karl's father Filmed before Diez's death
1993 The Tragedy of the 20th Century Adolf Hitler Compilation of footage from older pictures
1995 The Great Captain Georgy Zhukov Adolf Hitler Compilation of footage from older pictures
Voice actor
Year Title Role Notes
1957 Duped Till Doomsday Adolf Hitler
1961 The Story of the Christmas Man Narrator
1961 Two Goats Narrator
1961 Aunt Minna, her Dog and Science Narrator

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Theater der Zeit. Verband der Theaterschaffenden der DDR (September 1979). ISSN 0040-5418. Pages 16-21.
  2. ^ a b c d Frithjof Trapp. Handbuch des deutschsprachigen Exiltheaters 1933-1945: Verfolgung und Exil deutschsprachiger Theaterkünstler. K.G. Saur Verlag (1999). ISBN 978-3-598-11374-1. Pages 89, 181-182, 285.
  3. ^ Werner Mittenzwei. Exil in der Schweiz. Röderberg (1979). ISBN 978-3-87682-484-0. Page 351.
  4. ^ Brigitte Bruns. Werft Eure Hoffnung über neue Grenzen. Henschel Verlag (2007). ISBN 978-3-89487-571-8. Page 62.
  5. ^ Hans Teubner. Exilland Schweiz. Diez Verlag (1979). ASIN B003H2Z0RG. Page 296.
  6. ^ Jörg Krummenacher. Flüchtiges Glück. Die Flüchtlinge im Grenzkanton St. Gallen zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Zürich (2005). ISBN 3-85791-480-7. Page 402.
  7. ^ Petra Stuber. Spielräume und Grenzen: Studien zum DDR-Theater. Links Verlag (2003). ISBN 3-86153-171-2. page 302.
  8. ^ Dieter Reimer. DEFA-Stars: Legenden aus Babelsberg. Militzke Verlag (2004). ISBN 3-86189-717-2. Pages 178-9.
  9. ^ Norbert Moczarski, Die Protokolle des Sekretariats der SED-Bezirksleitung Suhl. Boehlaus Herrmann Nachf., 2002. ISBN 978-3-7400-1162-8. Page 23.
  10. ^ B. Tauchnitz. Shakespeare Jahrbuch. Banden 100-101. Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft (1964). Page 43.
  11. ^ An interview with Dilara Ozerova.
  12. ^ Charles P. Mitchell. The Hitler Filmography: Worldwide Feature Film and Television Miniseries Portrayals, 1940 Through 2000. McFarland & Co. (2002). ISBN 978-0-7864-1295-2. Page 171.
  13. ^ Ingrid Eberhardt. Kinder des Bezirkes – diesmal Schauspieler Fritz Diez oder: Das totale und unwiderrufliche Engagement fürs Theater. Freies Wort, 15 June 1979.
  14. ^ Fritz Diez in a list of renowned actors from Meiningen.

External links[edit]