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The Death of Artur Brauner
Lest We Forget

The film producer Artur Brauner
The film producer Artur Brauner | Foto (detail): © Ulla Brunner

On 7 July 2019, the film producer Artur Brauner died in Berlin at the age of 100. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, the president of the Goethe-Institut, recalls Brauner’s unflagging dedication, saying, “Thanks to him, examining the inhumane National Socialist dictatorship became a central concern of German film.”

On the death of Artur Brauner, the president of the Goethe-Institut Klaus-Dieter Lehmann expressed his appreciation of the special relationship between the legendary film producer and the Goethe-Institut, stating, “He was not only a legendary producer who shaped post-war cinema, was unflagging in his creative power and economically successful. Thanks to him, examining the inhumane National Socialist dictatorship became a central concern of German film. He made our co-curated Films Against Forgetfulness series, with films such as Europa Europa and Hanussen, available to the Goethe-Institut worldwide. In conversations with him, one sensed that cinematic remembrance of the Holocaust was his true life’s work. It is our legacy to continue this common cause.”
Artur Brauner, known by many as “Atze,” was born on 1 August 1918 in Łódź, Poland. Brauner became interested in cinema at a young age. In 1936, he travelled to the Middle East with young Zionists and made a documentary film about the trip. The beginning of the Second World War and persecution by the Nazis brought Brauner’s film studies to an end for the time being. He managed to escape to the Soviet Union, where he hid and survived the occupation by the German Wehrmacht undetected. After the war, Artur Brauner came to West Berlin and received a film producer license from the Allied authorities. But the time was not yet ripe for films dealing with the Nazi era, the involvement of many Germans in it and its victims. Brauner relied instead on entertaining films with popular subjects. He gained the recognition of cineastes with the Dürrenmatt film adaptation It Happened in Broad Daylight (1958) starring Heinz Rühmann. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Brauner used the money he earned from entertainment films to produce films dealing with the Nazi era and its victims. Witness Out of Hell (1965), The White Rose (1982) and Europa Europa, which was awarded a Golden Globe in 1990, address this era. In 1972, he received the Oscar for the best foreign-language film, the literary adaptation The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Artur Brauner made his films about the Holocaust available to the Goethe-Institut for its cultural work abroad. Until the end, he remained an admonisher against forgetting the victims of the Nazi era. Arthur Brauner died at the age of 100 on 7 July 2019. You can read a detailed appraisal of his work here.