After a promising start on the German stage, Jewish actor Herbert Grünbaum left Germany overnight in 1939 and settled in Palestine. The article takes his emigration as the starting point for the examination of his role as director and actor in the nascent Cameri Theatre. Grünbaum’s experiences in Palestine eventually resulted in his surprising departure in 1953. Although not a communist, Grünbaum chose to join the Volksbühne in East Berlin, one of the leading theatres of the GDR. In the late 1950s, in the wake of growing tension between the powers controlling the divided city, Grünbaum left the Volksbühne to become a member of the celebrated Schiller-Theater in West Berlin. Taking Grünbaum’s turbulent career as a case study, this article raises broader questions concerning the experiences of German émigré actors in Israel (primarily at the Cameri Theatre), especially those who ultimately chose to leave Israel and the Hebrew theatre behind, and return to the German stage.
© De Gruyter 2014