My darlings, if you have known me for longer than two seconds, you know that I have a bit of an obsession with a long-dead German actor called Conrad Veidt.
All right, I have a huge, all-consuming obsession with him. Hello, I Photoshopped myself into several pictures with him and ordered 8×10 prints of them to hang in my living room. I’m not crazy, mind you…even though I am pretty sure I just made myself look that way…*ahem*…
My friends on Facebook are also used to my daily dose of what I call “Connie Crack” (pictures, videos, and other Connie things). And some of them even enable me by tagging me in Connie-related posts.
And hey, it’s not like I am the only one who admires him a great deal nearly 70 years after his death. There are WordPress blogs, YouTube channels, and Tumblr pages dedicated to him and his ability to seduce from the grave.
To date, though, I think I am the only one who has put myself in photographs with him. (Please correct me if I am wrong. Please… I would love to see anyone else’s creative attempts…)
I do not post photographs, screen captures, videos, and other things just to drool over how heartbreakingly gorgeous he was—even though that is part of it…obviously. As a German-American I have this insatiable need to prove that there are some pretty awesome Germans out there who weren’t sullied by the black cloud of doom known as Hitler and the Third Reich. Conrad Veidt was one of the awesome Germans.
He openly defied the Nazis, and contributed a large chunk of his fortune to the British war effort. The rumors that the Nazis wanted him dead were are probably true considering he represented the very type they loathed—he was bisexual, married to a Jewish woman, starred in British propaganda films that were sympathetic to Jews, and was an early champion of gay rights.
In 1919, years before the Third Reich took hold of Germany, Veidt starred in Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others), which was one of several propaganda films that were made to educate the public on the truth about homosexuality and attempt to change the law that made same-sex couplings a crime in Germany.
Veidt played Paul Körner, a violinist who falls in love with his student Kurt (played by Fritz Shulz), and is blackmailed by a devilish character played by Reinhold Schünzel, who has threatened to expose their relationship.
Unable to handle the stress of living life as a homosexual in a society that shuns him, Kõrner commits suicide like so many other homosexuals in Germany did at the time, and still do today all over the world.
Veidt’s portrayal of Körner was heartfelt and beautiful. He used genuine emotion in this role and not the hamming that is common in some of his silent films. (Even though I will admit the fight scene with Schünzel is pretty over-the-top and borders on comical…)
When the Nazis came into power, they successfully destroyed most of the propaganda films, and they would have probably loved to get their hands on Anders als die Andern, but it miraculously survived, and an incomplete print resurfaced in Switzerland.
Now, nearly 100 years later, there is a massive effort taking place to fully restore this important part of LGBT history. Conrad would be proud.’
Unfortunately, this extraordinary man died of a heart attack on a golf course in Hollywood, California on April 3, 1943. He was only 50 years old. But the impact he had in film and in social activism will on live indefinitely.
We should all learn from, and try to emulate, his bravery. He literally risked his life for the causes he believed in. So what is stopping you from doing the same?