Grosse, Herwart


Herwart Grosse, an accomplished German actor known for his performances in period pieces, appeared in over 100 plays and 30 films. He was born in Berlin on April 17, 1908.


After joining the KPD (German Communist Party) in 1932 Grosse worked for the communist book club “Universum.” He took acting lessons with Paul Bildt until 1933 and then performed in Hans Rodenberg’s Red Review, as well as in Kurt Bork’s Agitprop piece Es geht nicht um die Wurst (The Truth Has Not Come), the last production by the Young Volksbühne before it was banned.


Grosse continued acting in Berlin during the Third Reich at the Youth Theater and Schiller Theater, until he was drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1944. After WWII he joined the Deutsches Theater, where he remained a member until his death.


In 1947 Grosse began working at DEFA, where his striking profile and changeable voice gained him attention, even when playing minor parts. On account of his physical appearance and ability to play commanding personalities Grosse was often cast as the despot, the capitalist, or the fascist. One such role was the director of IG-Farben and war criminal in Kurt Maetzig’s Der Rat der Götter, and in Der Fall  Gleiwitz he played the head of the Gestapo. After years of being typecast he suffered a personal crisis.


Nonetheless, Grosse relished performing the ironic and witty roles in the short satirical films of the Stacheltier series. In the 1960s he acted in and directed several episodes. He also gave extraordinary performances in film adaptations of classic dramas, such as Minna von Barnhelm and in period pieces like Die gestohlene Schlacht where he played the role of Frederick the Great alongside Manfred Krug.


In addition to his professional contribution to film, Grosse organized literary evenings devoted to the work of Thomas Mann.


Herwart Grosse died in Berlin on October 27, 1982.



1983 Martin Luther (TV)
1978 Fleur Lafontaine
1976 Beethoven – Tage aus einem Leben (Beethoven – Days in a Life)
1976 Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (The Sorrows of Young Werther)
1973 Wolz – Leben und Verklärung eines deutschen Anarchisten (Wolz – Life and Illusion of a German Anarchist)
1971 Die gestohlene Schlacht (The Stolen Battle)
1971 Liebeserklärung an G.T. (Declaration of Love to G.T.)
1968 Schüsse unterm Galagen (Shots under the Gallows)
1967 Turlis Abenteuer
1965 Kommando 52 (Commando 52, narrator)
1965/2005 Fräulein Schmetterling (Miss Butterfly)
1965/90 Karla (Carla)
1965 Die besten Jahre (The Best Years)
1964 Pension Boulanka
1964 Mir nach, Canaillen! (Follow Me, Rascals!)

Brüder und Schwestern (Brothers and Sisters, narrator)

1963 Globke heute (Globke Today, doc., narrator)
1963 Sonntagsfahrer (Sunday Drivers)
1962 Minna von Barnhelm, oder das Soldatenglück (Minna von Barnhelm, or the Soldier's Fortune)
1962 Ach, du fröhliche... (A Lively Christmas Eve)
1961 Professor Mamlock
1961 Der Fall Gleiwitz (The Gleiwitz Case)
1960 Spotkania w mroku  (Encounters in the Dark)
1959 Bevor der Blitz einschlägt (Before Lightning Strikes)
1958 Ware für Katalonien (Goods for Catalonia)

Archive sagen aus – Unternehmen Teutonenschwert (Operation Teutonic Sword, narrator)


Das Stacheltier – Der junge Engländer (The Porcupine: The Young Englishman, narrator)

1953 Das Stacheltier – Eine Liebesgeschichte (The Porcupine: A Love Story)
1950 Der Rat der Götter (Council of the Gods)
1948 Straßenbekanntschaft 
(Street Acquaintances)

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