Carola Neher (1900-1942)

“We actresses are only in our element on stage – in life we falter.”

15 November 2013 – 23 February 2014

On the initiative of Memorial Deutschland e.V. (Bettina Nir-Vered), from 14.00 on 15 November 2013 the city of Munich will officially dedicate a street named after Carola Neher.

The aim of the exhibition is to revive the memory of the short and impressive life of this artist, who lived in Munich and enjoyed great theatrical success there.

Carola Neher
was born on 03.11.1900 in Munich. Following Engagements at the Munich Kammerspiele and the Städtisches Schauspielhaus (Municipal Theatre) in Baden-Baden at the beginning of the 1920s, she celebrated great successes on stages in Breslau, Berlin and Vienna. Both her first husband, the poet Klabund, as well as Bertolt Brecht, created roles for her which she made famous throughout the whole of Germany. She ranks amongst the most important actresses of the Weimar period.

Her portrayal of Polly in the film version of the Dreigroschenoper in 1930/31 (after Bertolt Brecht) by Georg Wilhelm Pabst is unforgettable.

Following her political opposition to the Hitler regime, in 1933 she emigrated to Moscow, via Vienna and Prague, together with her second husband Anatol Becker. In 1936 the Soviet Union’s Stalinist  system persecuted Carola Neher for alleged counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities and in 1937 sentenced her to 10 years’ imprisonment. In 1942 she died of typhus in the Sol-Iletsk prison camp.

The exhibition will present around 80 photographs from her family’s collection, supplemented by selected graphics by the (unrelated) Caspar Neher from the Austrian Theatre Museum, her costumes in the productions of Der Kreidekreis by Klabund (role of Haitang), 1925 and Die Dreigroschenoper by Brecht (role of Polly), 1929, her original texts for theatre productions, with dedications by Klabund and Ödön von Horváth as well as personal memorabilia such as her own travelling gramophone, shellac records, theatre reviews and her fashion photography collection.

The exhibition also presents documentation of special aspects of her life: the deprivation of German citizenship, which made her return to Germany impossible, the birth of her son Georg Becker in Moscow, the living conditions in numerous Soviet prisons and her later rehabilitation by the Supreme Soviet Military Court.

An additional feature of the exhibition is an artistic appraisal of Carola Neher in the post-war years, inter alia in Jorge Semprun’s theatre play La Retour de Carola Neher, 1995.