Krauss, Werner

   actor; with Fritz Kortner,* the premier performer on Germany's Expressionist* stage. Born in the Franconian village of Gestungshausen, he descended from a line of Lutheran pastors. While he was studying at a teachers' institute in Breslau, he was suspended for repeated ap-pearances on a local stage. He acted from 1904 with traveling companies in Breslau, Aachen, and Nuremberg and then went to Berlin* in 1913 to study with Max Reinhardt.* Early stage work included plays by Shakespeare, Ibsen, Hofmannsthal, Wedekind, and Hauptmann*; his film* debut came in 1914 with Die Pagode. Although he was on shaky terms with Reinhardt—the director assigned him roles he did not want—the Deutsches Theater transformed him into Berlin's best-known villain; he also toured Europe with Reinhardt's ensem-ble. During 1924-1926 he acted under Leopold Jessner* at the Staatstheater. He divided his time after 1929 between Berlin and Vienna's Burgtheater.
   Krauss appeared in 104 silent movies. In addition to the title role in Robert Wiene's Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,* he played a series of miscreants, including Robespierre in Danton (1920), Iago in Buchowetzki's Othello (1922), Jack the Ripper in Das Wachsfigurenkabinett (Waxworks, 1924), and Count Muffat in Jean Renoir's Nana (1926). By 1926 he was, with Conrad Veidt* and Emil Jannings,* among Germany's leading film actors, having worked with F. W. Murnau,* G. W. Pabst,* Lupu Pick, Carl Froelich,* and Paul Leni. Often por-traying a character bent, bowed, and walking as if bearing the world's burdens, he complained to Renoir in 1926 that he was being typecast. Eventually, he played heroes and comic characters in addition to villains and outcasts. Despite enormous success with film, he repeatedly returned to the stage.
   Although numerous actors left Germany in 1933-1934, Krauss remained to star in several Nazi films. He was named Actor of the State and president of the Reichstheaterkammer; his most notorious work was the portrayal of several characters in a 1940 anti-Semitic rendering of Jud Suss (The Jew Süss). Years later Fritz Kortner* accused Krauss of underwriting "Hitler's* anti-Semitism* with his own." Such work created problems for him in postwar Germany; he was forbidden to act until 1954.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers; NDB, vol. 12; Willett, Theatre ofthe Weimar Republic.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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