Fritz Diez

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Not to be confused with the West German industrialist Fritz Dietz.


Fritz Diez
Fritz Diez.jpg
Fritz Diez
Friedrich Diez

(1901-02-27)27 February 1901
Died19 October 1979(1979-10-19) (aged 78)
OccupationActor, producer, director
Years active1920–1979
Spouse(s)Martha Beschort

Fritz Diez (27 February 1901 – 19 October 1979) was a German actor, producer, director and theater manager.

Germans citizens or native-born people of Germany; or people of descent to the ethnic and ethnolinguistic group associated with the German language

Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.


Early life

The Meiningen Theater. Meininger-Theater1.jpg
The Meiningen Theater.

Diez's mother was a servant, and raised her three children alone. To support his family, the child began working at the age of nine. While on the 7th grade, he appeared in his class' production of William Tell . In 1920, after joining the Meiningen Ducal Theater in the role of a supernumerary actor, Diez left his work as an electrician's apprentice and began taking acting classes in the Meiningen School of Dramatic Arts. He devoted himself to professional acting ever since, appearing on the stages of theaters in Flensburg, Hanau, Baden-Baden, Würzburg and Eger. [1] While performing in the Eisenach Theater, he met his future wife, actress Martha Beschort. The two married in 1923. [2]

William Tell folk hero of Switzerland

William Tell is a folk hero of Switzerland. According to the legend, Tell was an expert marksman with the crossbow who assassinated Albrecht Gessler, a tyrannical reeve of the Habsburg dukes positioned in Altdorf, in the canton of Uri. Tell's defiance and tyrannicide encouraged the population to open rebellion and a pact against the foreign rulers with neighbouring Schwyz and Unterwalden, marking the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy.

Supernumerary actors are usually amateur character actors in opera and ballet performances who train under professional direction to create a believable scene.

Flensburg Place in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany

Flensburg is an independent town in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Flensburg is the centre of the region of Southern Schleswig. After Kiel and Lübeck, it is the third largest town in Schleswig-Holstein.

During 1932, while he and Martha were working in the Stadttheater Bremerhaven, they both joined the KPD. Diez, who originally was a member of the Guild of the German Stage, joined the Profintern-oriented Revolutionary Trade Union Opposition and was elected as chairman of the theater's branch. [1]

Stadttheater Bremerhaven theatre in Bremerhaven, Germany

The Stadttheater Bremerhaven is a theatre in Bremerhaven, Germany. Founded in 1867, it serves three genres: opera and other musical theatre, spoken plays, and dance. A theatre built on the present site in 1911 was largely destroyed in World War II; a new house was built in 1952 which incorporated the surviving Jugendstil facade. The smaller Bürgerhaus Lehe, which served as a home before the rebuilding, is currently used as a venue for chamber pieces.

Communist Party of Germany former political party in Germany

The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956.

The Guild of the German Stage is the guild for people who work on the legitimate stage. Its members come from both the areas of stagecraft and artistic workers in theaters from all over Germany. The organization is based in Hamburg and is divided into seven regional divisions. It was established in 1871, in Weimar on an initiative by Ludwig Barnay.


On the morning of 28 February 1933, a day after the Reichstag fire, Diez's home was raided by the Gestapo. On 6 March, immediately after the elections, the actor was dismissed from his work for being a communist. [1] During 1935, Diez - fearing an interrogation by the Gestapo - had to emigrate from Germany. [3] He and his wife traveled to Switzerland, where he worked in the St. Gallen Theater. Diez became involved in the communist and anti-fascist circles of German exiles that were formed in the country. [2] The St. Gallen Theater's manager, Theo Modes, was a supporter of the Third Reich, and Diez was "completely isolated" in his place of work. [4] In 1943 he joined the Swiss branch of the recently founded National Committee for a Free Germany. [5] By the end of the war, Diez headed the St. Gallen fraction of the Democratic Union of Germans in Switzerland, an offshoot of the Committee. [6] He also edited this movement's newspaper. [2]

Reichstag fire arson attack in Berlin on 27 February 1933

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament in Berlin, on Monday 27 February 1933, precisely four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hitler's government stated that Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch council communist, was found near the building, and they attributed the fire to communist agitators in general—though a German court decided later that year that van der Lubbe had acted alone, as he claimed. After the fire, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed. The Nazi Party used the fire as a pretext that communists were plotting against the German government, and the event is considered pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany. The term "Reichstag fire" has come to refer to false flag actions facilitated by an authority to promote their own interests through popular approval of retribution or retraction of civil rights.

Gestapo official secret police of Nazi Germany

The Geheime Staatspolizei, abbreviated Gestapo, was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.

German Democratic Republic

Fritz Diez (second from the left) in 1966. Bundesarchiv Bild 183-E1028-0013-001, Berlin, Lesetheater in der Stadtbibliothek.jpg
Fritz Diez (second from the left) in 1966.

Diez returned to the Soviet-administered Meiningen in 1946. He worked in the municipal theater, first as an actor and later as a director and an artistic director. [2] In 1947, he was appointed its manager. [7] During 1952, he made his debut on screen in the DEFA film Shadow Over The Islands . He appeared in some twenty films until the end of his career, as well as in several television productions. [8]

Soviet occupation zone one of the four Allied occupation zones of Germany created at the end of World War II

The Soviet Occupation Zone was the area of central Germany occupied by the Soviet Union from 1945 on, at the end of World War II. On 7 October 1949 the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which became commonly referred to as East Germany, was established in the Soviet Occupation Zone.

An artistic director is the executive of an arts organization, particularly in a theatre or dance company, who handles the organization's artistic direction. They are generally a producer and director, but not in the sense of a mogul, since the organization is generally a non-profit organization. The artistic director of a theatre company is the individual with the overarching artistic control of the theatre's production choices, directorial choices, and overall artistic vision. In smaller theatres, the artistic director may be the founder of the theatre and the primary director of its plays. In larger non-profit theatres, the artistic director may be appointed by the board of directors.

Schatten über den Inseln is an East German black-and-white film, directed by Otto Meyer. It was released in 1952.

In 1954, Diez left Meiningen, remaining an honorable member of the theater, and instead took the position of the Halle National Theater's manager. [9] On 1958 he joined the Dresden Theater as an actor and a director. During the 1960s, he performed and directed plays in the Volksbühne and in the Deutsches Theater. Diez was also a member of the German Shakespeare Society. [10]

Dresden Place in Saxony, Germany

Dresden is the capital city and, after Leipzig, the second-largest city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the border with the Czech Republic.

Volksbühne theater in Berlin, Germany

The Volksbühne is a theater in Berlin, Germany. Located in Berlin's city center Mitte on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in what was the GDR's capital. It has been called Berlin’s most iconic theatre.

Deutsches Theater (Berlin) theatre and theatre company in Berlin, Germany

The Deutsches Theater in Berlin is a well-known German theatre. It was built in 1850 as Friedrich-Wilhelm-Städtisches Theater, after Frederick William IV of Prussia. Located on Schumann Street (Schumannstraße), the Deutsches Theater consists of two adjoining stages that share a common, classical facade. The main stage was built in 1850, originally for operettas.

The figure of Hitler, which he first portrayed in the Meiningen Theater during 1947, was described by Diez as an "ungrateful role which always seemed to pursue me." [1] He played the character on screen in seven different productions - Ernst Thälmann - Führer seiner Klasse (1955), I, Justice , Frozen Flashes (both 1967), Liberation (1970-1), Seventeen Moments of Spring (1973), Take Aim (1974) and Soldiers of Freedom (1977). Dilara Ozerova - the wife of Yuri Ozerov, who directed Liberation - claimed that Diez was reluctant to accept the invitation to depict Hitler in her husband's film series, fearing typecasting, but had to accept it as a "Party mission". [11] Author Charles P. Mitchell wrote that the actor was "Eastern Europe's equivalent to Bobby Watson in terms of the frequency of his Hitler appearances." [12]

In 1971, Diez received the Patriotic Order of Merit in silver. [13] On 9 October 1979, shortly before his death, he was awarded the title of an Honorary Citizen of Meiningen. [14]


1952 Shadow Over The Islands Arne Horn
1953 Swings Or Roundabouts Hellwand
1955 Ernst Thälmann Adolf Hitler
1956 Thomas Müntzer Field Captain Hoffmann
1959 Special Mission Captain Lieutenant Wegner
1959 The Goodies Weber
1959 The Punch Bowl State Secretary Frisch
1959 SAS 181 Does Not Reply The intendant
1959 Goods for Catalonia Captain Gerner
1960 Doctor Ahrendt's Decision Scholz
1960 Always on Duty Father Kraft
1960 Five Cartridges Major Bolaños
1963 Carbide and Sorrel Worker
1966 The Escape In The Silent Stetter
1967 Frozen Flashes Adolf Hitler
1967 I, Justice Adolf Hitler
1970 Liberation I: The Fire BulgeAdolf Hitler
1970Liberation II: BreakthroughAdolf Hitler
1971Liberation III: Direction of the Main BlowAdolf Hitler
1971Liberation IV: The Battle of BerlinAdolf Hitler
1971Liberation V: The Last AssaultAdolf Hitler
1972Hurray! We Are Going on a Vacation!Grandfather
1976 Take Aim Adolf Hitler/Otto Hahn
1963A Man and his ShadowUncredited role
1963 Carl von Ossietzky Hellmut von Gerlach
1963 'Blue LightMajor LöbelEpisode 18: Hot Money
1965Moments of JoyOtto Meinicke
1966Secret Unit BoomerangUncredited role
1966No Victory Without Struggle Hermann Abs
1967Blue LightDr. DöppkeEpisode 28:Night Patrol
1969Three From the KThe committee chiefEpisode 13: A Strange Case
1970 Tscheljuskin Valerian Kuybyshev
1973 Seventeen Moments of Spring Adolf HitlerEpisodes no. 1, 3 and 5
1973The Wondrous TreasureJudge
1974New From Florentiner No. 73Krawuttcke
1977 Soldiers of Freedom Adolf HitlerFour episodes
1978Dangerous InquiryUncredited roleSeason 1, Episode 2: Death in the Alpsee
1980Joy in the Rear ExitKarl's fatherFilmed before Diez's death
1993The Tragedy of the 20th CenturyAdolf HitlerCompilation of footage from older pictures
1995The Great Captain Georgy Zhukov Adolf HitlerCompilation of footage from older pictures
Voice actor
1957 Duped Till Doomsday Adolf Hitler
1961The Story of the Christmas ManNarrator
1961Two GoatsNarrator
1961Aunt Minna, her Dog and ScienceNarrator

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Theater der Zeit. Verband der Theaterschaffenden der DDR (September 1979). ISSN   0040-5418. Pages 16-21.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Frithjof Trapp. Handbuch des deutschsprachigen Exiltheaters 1933-1945: Verfolgung und Exil deutschsprachiger Theaterkünstler. K.G. Saur Verlag (1999). ISBN   978-3-598-11374-1. Pages 89, 181-182, 285.
  3. Werner Mittenzwei. Exil in der Schweiz. Röderberg (1979). ISBN   978-3-87682-484-0. Page 351.
  4. Brigitte Bruns. Werft Eure Hoffnung über neue Grenzen. Henschel Verlag (2007). ISBN   978-3-89487-571-8. Page 62.
  5. Hans Teubner. Exilland Schweiz. Diez Verlag (1979). ASIN B003H2Z0RG. Page 296.
  6. Jörg Krummenacher. Flüchtiges Glück. Die Flüchtlinge im Grenzkanton St. Gallen zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Zürich (2005). ISBN   3-85791-480-7. Page 402.
  7. Petra Stuber. Spielräume und Grenzen: Studien zum DDR-Theater. Links Verlag (2003). ISBN   3-86153-171-2. page 302.
  8. Dieter Reimer. DEFA-Stars: Legenden aus Babelsberg. Militzke Verlag (2004). ISBN   3-86189-717-2. Pages 178-9.
  9. Norbert Moczarski, Die Protokolle des Sekretariats der SED-Bezirksleitung Suhl. Boehlaus Herrmann Nachf., 2002. ISBN   978-3-7400-1162-8. Page 23.
  10. B. Tauchnitz. Shakespeare Jahrbuch. Banden 100-101. Deutsche Shakespeare-Gesellschaft (1964). Page 43.
  11. An interview with Dilara Ozerova. Archived 2012-03-16 at the Wayback Machine .
  12. Charles P. Mitchell. The Hitler Filmography: Worldwide Feature Film and Television Miniseries Portrayals, 1940 Through 2000. McFarland & Co. (2002). ISBN   978-0-7864-1295-2. Page 171.
  13. Ingrid Eberhardt. Kinder des Bezirkes – diesmal Schauspieler Fritz Diez oder: Das totale und unwiderrufliche Engagement fürs Theater. Freies Wort , 15 June 1979.
  14. Fritz Diez Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine . in a list of renowned actors from Meiningen.