Regardless of the historical period or the political system, Gustaf Gründgens (1899–1963), who always considered art as an autonomous realm, was doubtlessly the most important German »theatre man«. An actor and director, Gründgens was appointed Director of the Prussian State Theater by Hermann Göring, and was clearly a beneficiary of the Third Reich. He, however, also used the advantages of his position in order to protect actors who were »racially suspect« or married to Jews. He maneuvered to keep them on in his theatre and to protect their relatives, and this despite the fact that he himself was at risk due to his homosexuality. Despite his human decency, and his uncommon courage in the service of others, until the end of his life Gründgens could not admit that he had contributed to the glamour of an inhuman regime within whose cultural machine his own theatre operated.
© De Gruyter 2014