Harlan, Veit

BORN 22 Sep 1899, Berlin - DIED 13 Apr 1964, Capri, Campania
GRAVE LOCATION Capri, Campania: Catholic Cemetery

Veit Harlan was the son of the author Walter Harlan and his wife Adele Boothby. He was apprenticed to a silversmith, but he also took acting lessons at Max Reinhardt's school. In 1915 he appeared on the stage for the first time. In 1916 he joined the army as a volunteer and he was sent to the Western front. After the war he joined the Berliner Volksbühne and he worked there from 1920 to 1922. He left Berlin in 1922 to join the Landestheater in Meiningen. In the same year he married the Jewish actress Dora Gerson, but they were divorced in 1924. She died in a concentration camp in 1943.

Later in the 1920s he also appeared in movies. In 1929 he married Hilde Körber, with whom he had three children. In 1933 he stated in an interview that he supported the new nazi regime. In the 1935s he started directing movies. In 1937 Goebbels noted him and he commissioned him with the antisemitical "Jud Süß" (1940). He had divorced Hilde Körber in 1938 and he married Kristina Söderbaum in 1939. They had two children. Kristina played a main part in "Jud Süß", next to Ferdinand Marian, Heinrich George and Werner Krauss. In January 1945 he released "Kolberg", the most expensive movie of the nazi era, starring Heinrich George and Kristina.

After the war he was subjected to a denazification procedure and he successfully defended himself against the accusations that had supported antisemitism. He was exonerated, but on request of the VVN (Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes - Association of those persecuted by the Nazi regim) another trial against him was started in 1949 in Hamburg. The actress Maria Byk spoke in favour of him but her statement was incomprehensible and she was found drowned soon afterwards. On 23 April 1949 Harlan was acquitted because a personal guilt could not be proven. The Supreme Court for the British Zone overturned the verdict. In yet another trial in Hamburg Harlan claimed that refusal to direct "Jud Süß" would have been dangerous for him and he was acquitted again on 29 April 1950. However, Géza von Cziffra wrote in his autobiography that Peter Paul Brauer was intended to direct "Jud Süß" but Harlan requested to direct it and Harlan was heavily involved in the script of the movie as well.

In 1950 he directed "Unsterbliche Geliebte" with Kristina and Hans Holt. A protest against him and the movie followed after its release in 1951. Senator Erich Lüth from Hamburg called for a boycot and Harlan sued him. In 1958 the Federal Constitutional Court decided that Lüth had used his right to freedom of expression. In 1957 Harlan directed "Anders als du und ich" with Paula Wessely. His former wife Hilde Körber also appeared in this movie about homosexuality. A few more movies followed.

In 1964 he stayed at Capri. But he was seriously ill and had to be hospitalised in Naples. When he was able to leave hospital he was carried on a stretcher to a plane and flown back to Capi. He caught pneumonia and his health insurance company refused to pay for his treatment because he lived abroad. On 5 april he and Kristine celebrated the silver anniversary of their wedding. His sons Thomas, Kristian and Caspar had all came to Capri and he died there on 13 April 1964 surrounded by his family. He was buried at the Catholic Cemetery of Capri.

• Wife: Körber, Hilde (1929-1938) (divorce or separation)
• Wife: Söderbaum, Kristina (1939-1964)

Related persons
• directed Gebühr, Otto
• employed Marian, Ferdinand

28/3/1929Performance of Frank Wedekind's "Der Marquis von Keith" in honour of the recently deceased Albert Steinrück. It took place at the Schauspielhaus at the Gendarmemarkt in Belrin. Director was Leopold Jessner and Heinrich Mann speeched. Among the participating actors were Heinrich George, Werner Krauss, Carola Neher, Tilla Durieux, Jakob Tiedtke, Conrad Veidt, Max Pallenberg, Elisabeth Bergner, Paul Wegener, Hans Albers, Käthe Dorsch and Veit Harlan. [Albers, Hans][Bergner, Elisabeth][Brausewetter, Hans][Dietrich, Marlene][Durieux, Tilla][George, Heinrich][Goetz, Curt][Körber, Hilde][Kortner, Fritz][Krauss, Werner][Mann, Heinrich][Pallenberg, Max][Steinrück, Albert][Veidt, Conrad][Wedekind, Frank][Wedekind, Tilly][Wegener, Paul]
30/1/1945Premiere of Veit Harlan's "Kolberg" at La Rochelle. It was the most expensive movie that was made in the nazi era, starring Heinrich George and Kristina Söderbaum. The movie was about a village that refused to surrender during the Napoleontic Wars and was eventually rescued. Goebbels orderded the first copy of the movie to be delivered by parachute to the German troops in the French town La Rochelle, that had been surrounded since the invasion of 1944. La Rochelle was only captured by the allied troops after the German capitulation in May 1945. The movie was meant to encourage the German citizens, but nothing came of it because most movie theatres in Germany were closed by the time the movie was released. [George, Heinrich][Söderbaum, Kristina]


The grave of Veit Harlan at the Catholic Cemetery, Capri.
Picture by Androom (17 Feb 2020)


The grave of Veit Harlan at the Catholic Cemetery, Capri.
Picture by Androom (17 Feb 2020)


• Adler, Josef, Handbuch der Grabstätten, 2. Band, Die Grabstätte der Europäer, Deutsches Kunstverlag, München, 1986
• Benz, Wolfgang/Hermann, Biographisches Lexicon zur Weimarer Republik, Beck, München, 1988
LeMO Der Zweite Weltkrieg - Kunst und Kultur - Film "Kolberg"
Veit Harlan - Wikipedia

Harley, Jane, Countess of Oxford and Countess Mortimer

Published: 01 Mar 2020
Last update: 20 Feb 2022