Why the Fat Man Isn't Laughing
Although I have always admired the music and movies of Kurt Gerron, I've only recently known his fuller story and tragic end. Peter Lorre, Fritz Lang, Lotte Lenya and others from Weimar Germany may have gone on to find glory on Broadway and in Hollywood, but none of them had quite as tremendous of a career in the late 1920s and such a tragic fall in the final hours of the Third Reich.
Gerron had a great run in stage and film works of Pabst, Brecht and von Sternberg, but his final act is the most wrenching. Supposedly by coercion he directed a pro-Nazi propaganda film about the Czech Jewish ghetto called "Hitler Builds a City for the Jews" to show the Fuhrer's humanity for Jews. The moment after it wrapped he was executed, mere months before the Allies arrived. One of his signature songs was "Ich bin das Nachtgespenst: (I am the boogeyman)", a favorite among children that sadly was foreboding of his own tragic fate. I am sure I'll post more about Herr Gerron once my copy of Prisoner in Paradise arrives.