In Brot und Rosen © DEFA-Stiftung, Rudolf Meister
Günther Simon (Erhard Faber) was born in Berlin on May 11, 1926. During WWII, still a teenager, he had to join a pre-military training camp. In 1943, he volunteered to become a Wehrmacht soldier and was captured by American troops. He was sent first to an American and then British POW camp, where he played in the camp theater groups. Simon returned home in 1947, and after taking acting lessons with Karl Meixner at the Hebbel Theater, he became a member of the theater company in Köthen, before he moved to theaters in Schwerin and Dresden.
Since the beginning of the 1950s, Simon played in films produced by the East German DEFA Studio. His DEFA debut was in Martin Hellberg’s post-WWII story Das verurteilte Dorf, in which he played a former POW who returns to his Bavarian home and fights against the building of an American military airport in his village. A few years later, director Kurt Maetzig cast him for the leading role in the two-part Ernst Thälmann film. For his outstanding performance, Simon was awarded Best Actor at the 1956 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Although Simon performed in different genres, including children’s films (Alfons Zitterbacke), sci-fi (Der schweigende Stern) and musicals (Meine Frau macht Musik), his performance as Ernst Thälmann stayed with him throughout his career, and directors repeatedly cast him as a powerful worker, a revolutionist or a historic figure. However, director Egon Günther gave Simon the chance to play characters in contemporary dramas, including the father of two kids, whose wife wants a divorce in Lots Weib, or a state official who challenges the present power in a balancing act between helplessness and unexpected events in banned film When You’re Older, Dear Adam. In Günther Stahnke’s 1965 banned film, Der Frühling braucht Zeit, Simon is a success-driven, authoritarian manager.
Simon’s career was also marked by censorship. While two of his films were banned in the aftermath of the 11th Plenum of the SED Party and not released until 1990, Konrad Wolf’s 1958 Sonnenensucher, in which Simon played a foreman at the uranium mine Wismut, was not shown before 1971 and finally widely released into theaters in 1972.
Günther Simon, whose name was credited for more than 60 movies and numerous television productions, died after a short illness, at the age of 47, on June 25, 1972 in Berlin.
|1956||Best Actor, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse|
|1954||National Prize, Class 1 for Acting for Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse|
|1972||Reife Kirschen (Ripe Cherries)|
|1972||Gefährliche Reise (Dangerous Voyage, TV mini-series)|
|1971||KLK an PTX – Die Rote Kapelle (KLK to PTX: The Red Orchestra)|
|1970||Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Everybody Dies Alone, TV mini-series)|
|1968||Krupp und Krause (Krupp & Krause, TV mini-series)|
|1967||Brot und Rosen (Bread and Roses)|
|1966||Reise ins Ehebett (Journey into the Nuptial Bed)|
|1966||Alfons Zitterbacke (Alfons Wobblecheek)|
|1965||Der Frühling braucht Zeit (Spring Takes Time)|
|1965/90||Wenn du groß bist, lieber Adam (When You're Older, Dear Adam)|
|1965||Lots Weib (Lot's Wife)|
|1965||Ballade vom Roten Mohn (The Ballad of Red Poppy, TV)|
|1964||Der Reserveheld (Hero of the Reserve)|
|1963||Preludio 11 (Prelude 11)|
|1963||Schwarzer Samt (Black Velvet)|
|1962||Geheimarchiv an der Elbe (Secret Files)|
|1961||Der Traum des Hauptmann Loy (Captain Loy's Dream)|
|1961||Das Kleid (The Robe)|
|1960||Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot (Love and the Co-Pilot)|
|1960||Der Moorhund (The Dog in the Moors)|
|1959||Der schweigende Stern (The Silent Star)|
|1959||Einer von uns (One of Us)|
|1959||Eine alte Liebe (An Old Love)|
|1958||Das Lied der Matrosen (The Sailors' Song)|
|1958||Geschwader Fledermaus (The Bat Squadron)|
|1958||Meine Frau macht Musik (My Wife Makes Music)|
|1958||Sonnensucher (Sun Seekers)|
|1957||Vergeßt mir meine Traudel nicht (Don't Forget My Little Traudel)|
|1955||Treffpunkt Aimée (Rendezvous Aimée)|
|1955||Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Leader of the Working Class)|
|1954||Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Son of the Working Class)|
|1951||Das verurteilte Dorf|