Alexander Granach(Jessaja Szajko Gronach, Hermann Gronach)

Schauspieler Alexander Granach
Alexander Granach, 1935
Bildarchiv Pisarek, © AKG-Images

Alexander Granach(Jessaja Szajko Gronach, Hermann Gronach)

1938 kam ich nach der Schweiz – Gott segne sie – und verabschiedete mich von Europa mit Macbeth am Züricher Schauspielhaus. Kam dann nach Amerika – God bless it. Hier bin ich Ringkämpfer geworden. Jeden Tag habe ich fünf bis sechs Stunden mit englischen Vokabeln gerungen. Dann nahmen mich die Dieterles nach Hollywood – and i had my first break!

[In 1938 I came to Switzerland – God bless it – and said farewell to Europe with Macbeth at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich. Then I came to America – God bless it. Here I became a wrestler. Every day I wrestled with English vocabulary for five or six hours. Then the Dieterles brought me to Hollywood – and I had my first break! (ed. trans.)]

Alexander Granach, Wer bin ich?, 1945

Bornon 18 April 1890 in Werbowitz, Austria-Hungary, today Ukraine
Diedon 14 March 1945 in New York, United States of America (USA)
ExileAustria, Poland, Soviet Union, Switzerland, United States of America
ProfessionActor, Writer

When Alexander Granach emigrated from Germany on 29 March 1933, he was one of the most successful expressionist actors in Germany. In the political theatre of Berlin – in the ensemble of director Erwin Piscator, among others – he was a popular actor. He was also known to a wide public thanks to silent films such as Nosferatu. He was revered as the “King of the Eastern Jews” in Yiddish theatre circles.

Warned by friends that he faced arrest by the Gestapo, the Jewish actor fled to Vienna immediately after a show. There he found a veritable “flood of actors”. Many actors who had fled from Germany were looking for work here. Granach concluded that there was little for him to do in Austria and emigrated to Poland. Fluent in Russian, Polish and Yiddish, Galician-born actor easily assimilated to the world of Yiddish theatre in Poland. Another stage of his exile brought Granach to the Soviet Union, where he was arrested for espionage in 1937. A letter by the writer Lion Feuchtwanger to Stalin secured his release, after which he fled to Switzerland. In 1938, Granach appeared as Macbeth at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich. However, he was forced to move on to the US in May 1938 when Switzerland refused to grant him permission to stay. In his 15 Hollywood films, he accepted – like many emigrants – roles as Nazis. At the end of 1944 he made it to Broadway in New York, where he worked until his death in March 1945.

Selected works:
Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens (Film, 1922)
Ninotschka (Film, 1939)
So ends our Night (Film, 1941)
Joan of Paris (Film, 1942)
Das siebte Kreuz (Film, 1944)

Further reading:
Klein, Albert / Kruk, Raya: Alexander Granach. Fast verwehte Spuren, Berlin: Ed. Hentrich 1994
Recher, Hilde / Wittlich, Angelika: Du mein liebes Stück Heimat. Briefe an Lotte Lieven aus dem Exil. Augsburg: Ölbaum-Verlag 2008