Conrad Veidt Was Different from the Others

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.

Conrad Veidt and Ang

Conrad Veidt and my photoshopped head on Felicitas Radke’s body.

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…)

ang and connie

The Hands of Orlac (with my photshopped head again).

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?

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17 thoughts on “Conrad Veidt Was Different from the Others

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      It’s a miracle he got out of Germany alive. A widely known fact is that he wrote “Juden” (Jewish) on any government papers that required ethnic background information. That alone could have landed him in a concentration camp.

      It’s true what they say—actors who play the most fiendish roles on stage and screen are usually the sweetest, most gentle people. And Connie was definitely a fiend on screen more often than not. He played murderers, pimps, Nazis, and even Satan himself on a few occasions. And he convinced you he was all those things each time.
      Angie Schaffer recently posted…Conrad Veidt Was Different from the OthersMy Profile

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Thanks for dropping by, Mary.

      And he was a rather fascinating person, I must say. But I am totally biased. :p

      The role most people know him for these days is Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca. He did a lot of Nazi roles in his later years, and made them as nasty as he could to show the world what filth they were.

      I’m not a huge fan of Casablanca (classic film fans everywhere just collectively screamed in horror), so I won’t suggest watching it as an example of his film prowess. I’m a fan of the German Expressionist horror films he did in the late teens/1920s. IF you are ever interested in seeing his work on film, that is. :P

      If you are, I suggest The Hands of Orlac, which is an unintentionally funny horror film about a world famous pianist who loses his hands in a train accident and they are replaced by a recently executed murderer’s hands.

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      Mine too! That’s one of the reasons I fell head over heels mad for him. As a child, I’d always heard that people were too afraid to stand up against the Third Reich, so they just stood back and watched the carnage, hoping they wouldn’t become victims. While that was true for many, thre were quite a few like Veidt and The White Rose that risked death to fight them.

  1. Dortha Hise

    This was a lovely and educational read! I really appreciated your insights–I could truly feel your passion as I read it. I was not familiar w/ Conrad Veidt either, but thank you for the information! Found you from the Ultimate Blog Challenge and have signed up for updates on your blog! Thank you~~

    1. Angie Schaffer Post author

      *claps hands* I’m glad I was able to introduce you to someone new, especially someone as awesome as Conrad Veidt. Fun fact: Veidt was tapped by Universal Pictures to play Dracula in 1931, but he backed out because he felt that his poor English and heavy accent would turn off audiences. Now I will admit that in the very early 30s it was hard to understand him when he spoke English (his English, of course, improved in time), but it is still fun to think of what he would have been like as Dracula.

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