Hannes Messemer

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Hannes Messemer
Born Hans Edwin Messemer
(1924-05-17)17 May 1924
Dillingen an der Donau, Bavaria
Died 2 November 1991(1991-11-02) (aged 67)
Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Cause of death Heart attack
Nationality German
Occupation Actor
Years active 1956-1989
Known for The Great Escape
Spouse(s) Monika Keusch (1985 -1991) (his death)
Susanne Korda (1980-1981) (divorced)
Rosel Schäfer (1952-1977) (divorced) (1 child)

Hannes Messemer (17 May 1924 – 2 November 1991) was a German actor. Born in Dillingen an der Donau, Bavaria, Messemer served on the Eastern Front of World War II and was eventually captured by Soviet soldiers. He managed to escape and make it back to Germany on foot. After the war, Messemer tried his hand at several jobs, before falling into acting in 1946. With only his natural talent and no training, he successfully secured roles with several major theatre companies in Tübingen, Hamburg, Munich and Berlin in the following ten years.

His big break in films came with a role in Rose Bernd in 1956. He was then cast in the major role of Colonel Rossdorf in the production of The Devil Strikes at Night the following year - a role which saw him awarded a Best Actor accolade. A series of successful roles followed, including The Doctor of Stalingrad, Der Transport (Destination Death), Die Brücke des Schicksals and the comedy Babette Goes to War with Brigitte Bardot. He achieved critical international acclaim for his role as Colonel Muller in the Roberto Rossellini production of General della Rovere (1959), with the film winning the Golden Lion at Venice that year.

Messemer is probably best known for his role as Oberst von Luger, the Kommandant in The Great Escape (1963). The film had a star-studded cast, but it was Messemer, relatively unknown outside Europe, who uttered the film's most famous line (to Steve McQueen/Capt. Hilts): "It looks, after all, as if you will see Berlin before I do."

He continued to star in TV and theatre productions, becoming a familiar face to German television audiences for over 20 years. Some of his roles included major TV productions such as Union der festen Hand and Die Dämonen, as well as two years as Commissioner Deeds in the TV drama series Sergeant Berry. He also lent his distinctive voice to radio and recorded works, including the writings of Mao, and a reading of the four books of the Gospels.

A heavy lifelong smoker, Messemer suffered throat cancer during the 1980s, and surgery left his voice at only a whisper. Forced to retire from acting, he appeared on German television for the last time in 1989, in a production with Agnes Fink.

Hannes Messemer died of a heart attack in Aachen. He was married four times, and was survived by two daughters.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Film Role Director Notes
1957 Rose Bernd August Keil Wolfgang Staudte
1957 The Devil Strikes at Night SS-Gruppenführer Rossdorf Robert Siodmak
1957 The Glass Tower Dr. Krell Harald Braun
1958 Madeleine und der Legionär (de) Robert Altmann Wolfgang Staudte
1958 The Doctor of Stalingrad Oberleutnant Pjotr Markow Géza von Radványi
1958 Taiga Roeder Wolfgang Liebeneiner
1959 Douze heures d'horloge (fr) Serge Géza von Radványi
1959 Menschen im Netz (de) Braun Franz Peter Wirth
1959 Babette Goes to War General Franz von Arenberg Christian-Jaque
1959 General Della Rovere SS-Standartenführer Müller Roberto Rossellini
1959 Ein Tag, der nie zu Ende geht (de) Bill Robson Franz Peter Wirth
1960 The High Life Ernst Moos Julien Duvivier
1960 Escape by Night Oberst von Kleist Roberto Rossellini
1960 Die Brücke des Schicksals (de) Klaus Urban Michael Kehlmann
1960 Die Rote Hand (de) Manora Khan Kurt Meisel
1960 Auf Engel schießt man nicht (de) Suarez Rolf Thiele
1961 Der Transport (de) Leutnant Bleck Jürgen Roland
1963 The Great Escape Oberst von Luger, Lagerkommandant John Sturges
1964 Agent spécial à Venise Carl Natzka André Versini
1966 Congress of Love (de) Metternich Géza von Radványi
1966 Grieche sucht Griechin (de) Fahrcks Rolf Thiele
1966 The Defector Dr. Saltzer Raoul Lévy
1966 Is Paris Burning? Generaloberst Jodl René Clément
1974 Wer stirbt schon gerne unter Palmen (de) Jean-Pierre Pinaud Alfred Vohrer
1974 The Odessa File General Glücks Ronald Neame

Television[edit]

Year TV Show Role Notes
1962 Liebe im September Graham Colby
1963 Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker Andreas Kartak based on The Legend of the Holy Drinker
1964 Der trojanische Krieg findet nicht statt Odysseus based on The Trojan War Will Not Take Place
1964 Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua Fiesco based on Fiesco
1968 König Richard II King Richard II based on Richard II
1974-1975 Sergeant Berry Commissioner Deeds 23 episodes
1976 Fünf Prüfungen des Oberbürgermeisters Konrad Adenauer written by Peter von Zahn
1977 Generale – Anatomie der Marneschlacht (de) Joseph Gallieni written by Sebastian Haffner
1977 Die Befragung des Machiavelli Machiavelli
1977 Onkel Silas Onkel Silas based on Uncle Silas
1977 Die Dämonen Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky based on Demons
1978-1983 Derrick 3 episodes
1979 Union der festen Hand von Zander based on a novel by Erik Reger (de)
1981 Collin Havelka based on a novel by Stefan Heym
1982 Flüchtige Bekanntschaften Paul based on a novel by Dieter Wellershoff
1982 Frau Jenny Treibel Leutnant a.D. Vogelsang based on Frau Jenny Treibel
1983 Die Geschwister Oppermann Gutwetter based on a novel by Lion Feuchtwanger
1983-1984 Diese Drombuschs Herr Diehl, Oberstudienrat i.P. 4 episodes
1989 Langusten Ernst (final film role)

External links[edit]