Gründgens, Gustaf

BORN 22 Dec 1899, Düsseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen: Graf-Adolfstrasse 92 - DIED 7 Oct 1963, Manilla
BIRTH NAME Gründgens, Gustav Heinrich Arnold
CAUSE OF DEATH overdose of sleeping pills
GRAVE LOCATION Hamburg: Ohlsdorfer Friedhof, Fühlsbüttler Strasse 756 (O6 (5) (ashes))

Gustaf Gründgens was born into a family of industrials. During the First World War he served at the Western Front. After the war he joined the theatre group Saarlouis. He worked at theatres in Halberstadt (1920), Kiel (1921) and Berlin (1922) before he joined the Kammerspiele in Hamburg (1923-1928).

Although he was homosexual he married Erika Mann in 1926 (she was lesbian and loved Pamela Wedekind). They divorced in 1929. In 1932 he played Mephisto in Goethe's "Faust" for the first time. During the nazi era he was the intendant of the theatres in Berlin (1934-1945) by special request of Hermann Göring. In 1936 he married Marianne Hoppe, who was bisexual. They had seperate houses in Berlin and a home together in the country outside Berlin.

Because he got on so well with the nazis, Erica's brother Klaus Mann had him in mind when he wrote his novel "Mephisto" (about an actor in the Third Reich). Mann denied that it was about Gründgens, but nobody believed him. In reality Gründgens never was a nazi himself and he took risks to protect others.

After the war Gründgens was imprisoned by the Russians for nine months. Because he had used his good relations with Hitler to help threatened fellow actors, some of them supported him during the denazification trials. He was released mainly because he had saved Ernst Busch from a certain death as Busch testified himself. Gründgens himself spoke for Emmy Goring, Veit Harlan and Fritz Hippler. When Marianne Hoppe became pregnant by the American journalist Ralph Izzard they surprisingly divorced in 1946.

From 1947 to 1955 he was general intendant in Düsseldorf. In 1955 he accepted the same position in Hamburg and once more he played Mephisto with great success. In May 1962 he unexpectedly stated that he was unable to sing a new contract in Hamburg. His health was a mess and his doctors had told him long before that he should slow down. He left Germany to travel around the world with his 25 year old lover and adopted son Peter Gorski. In Manilla he poisoned himself with an overdose of sleeping pills and died. It was suggested that he committed suicide, but he left a note in which he stated that he felt strange because he had probably taken too many pills.

His ashes were returned to Germany and buried at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg.

• Wife: Hoppe, Marianne (1936-1946, Berlin) (divorce or separation)

Related persons
• employed Badenhausen, Rolf
• was a friend of Bildt, Paul
• cooperated with Denk, Paula
• cooperated with Flickenschildt, Elisabeth
• cooperated with Göring-Sonnemann, Emmy
• was teacher to Gorvin, Joana Maria
• attended funeral of Gottschalk, Joachim
• cooperated with Hellberg, Ruth
• cooperated with Hildebrand, Hilde
• directed Hiob, Hanne
• knew Kemp, Paul
• cooperated with Kolldehoff, Reinhard
• was written about by Mann, Klaus
• directed Maybach, Christiane
• knew Neumann, Hertha
• cooperated with Walbrook, Anton
• cooperated with Wedekind, Pamela
• cooperated with Weisgerber, Antje
• cooperated with Weissner, Hilde


The grave of Gustav Gründgens at the Ohlsdorfer Friedhof in Hamburg.
Picture by Androom (26 Jan 2006)


The grave of Gustaf Gründgens at the Ohlsdorfer Friedhof in Hamburg.
Picture by Androom (20 Aug 2011)


Plaque at the house at the Graf-Adolfstrasse 92 in Düsseldorf where Gustaf Gründgens was born.
Picture by Androom (06 Sep 2014)


Plaque at the house at the Graf-Adolfstrasse 92 in Düsseldorf where Gustaf Gründgens was born.
Picture by Androom (06 Sep 2014)


• Leisner, Barbara, Helmut Schoenfeld, Ohlsdorf-Führer, Der, Spaziergänge auf der grössten Friedhof Europas, Hans Christians Verlag, Hamburg, 1993
• Stern, Carola, Auf dem Wassern des Lebens, Gustav Gründgens und Marianne Hoppe, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg, 2007
Gustaf Gründgens – Wikipedia

Grünfeld, Alfred

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 03 Apr 2022