Paul Kohner Agency

Photo: Paul Kohner, middle of the 1980s
The art agent Paul Kohner at his desk in the middle of the 1980s
Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen. collection of the Paul Kohner Agency, photographer: Gero Gandert (SDK)

Paul Kohner Agency

Die schauspielerische und literarische Immigration hat ihm [Paul Kohner] viel, sehr viel zu verdanken. Ein Jude, ein Europäer, ein Mensch – wenn ihr alles in allem nehmt.

[Thespian and literary immigration has a very great deal to thank him [Paul Kohner] for. A Jew, a European, a human being – when you take everything together. (ed. trans.)]

What is film looking for today? A visit to the Kohner Agency, Aufbau, 4 October 1940

In a profile published in 1940, the German-language magazine Aufbau called him a “noble man”. In 1938 Paul Kohner from Austria-Hungary opened an artists' agency on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. This agency became a central contact point for emigrants. Kohner had been living in the USA since 1920 and had worked for German and American film studios for many years. During this time he had established many important contacts that he used cleverly to save persecuted (film) artists. He obtained visas and affidavits, organised escapes, maintained contacts to other aid organisations and organised work contracts with film studios that made it possible for artists to travel to the USA.

The European Film Fund was founded on his initiative. Germans and Europeans working in films in Hollywood paid a part of their wages into this fund. This was then handed in the form of loans or gifts to refugees who could not support themselves. Kohner provided office space in his agency as well as staff to administrate this aid fund. In addition to this, he wrote countless letters and telegrams to those seeking help, offering encouragement and sympathy. This has been impressively documented by the agency estate and the collection is maintained by the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek [German Cinematic Foundation] in Berlin. After 1945 Kohner continued to direct the agency, which specialised in looking after German actors and directors in Hollywood until his death in 1988.