Simon, Günther


Günther Simon (Erhard Faber) was born in Berlin on May 11, 1926. During WWII, still a teenager, he had to join a pre-military training camp. In 1943, he volunteered to become a Wehrmacht soldier and was captured by American troops. He was sent first to an American and then British POW camp, where he played in the camp theater groups. Simon returned home in 1947, and after taking acting lessons with Karl Meixner at the Hebbel Theater, he became a member of the theater company in Köthen, before he moved to theaters in Schwerin and Dresden.


Since the beginning of the 1950s, Simon played in films produced by the East German DEFA Studio. His DEFA debut was in Martin Hellberg’s post-WWII story Das verurteilte Dorf, in which he played a former POW who returns to his Bavarian home and fights against the building of an American military airport in his village. A few years later, director Kurt Maetzig cast him for the leading role in the two-part Ernst Thälmann film. For his outstanding performance, Simon was awarded Best Actor at the 1956 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


Although Simon performed in different genres, including children’s films (Alfons Zitterbacke), sci-fi (Der schweigende Stern) and musicals (Meine Frau macht Musik), his performance as Ernst Thälmann stayed with him throughout his career, and directors repeatedly cast him as a powerful worker, a revolutionist or a historic figure. However, director Egon Günther gave Simon the chance to play characters in contemporary dramas, including the father of two kids, whose wife wants a divorce in Lots Weib, or a state official who challenges the present power in a balancing act between helplessness and unexpected events in banned film When You’re Older, Dear Adam. In Günther Stahnke’s 1965 banned film, Der Frühling braucht Zeit, Simon is a success-driven, authoritarian manager.


Simon’s career was also marked by censorship. While two of his films were banned in the aftermath of the 11th Plenum of the SED Party and not released until 1990, Konrad Wolf’s 1958 Sonnenensucher, in which Simon played a foreman at the uranium mine Wismut, was not shown before 1971 and finally widely released into theaters in 1972.


Günther Simon, whose name was credited for more than 60 movies and numerous television productions, died after a short illness, at the age of 47, on June 25, 1972 in Berlin.

Festivals & Awards:

1956 Best Actor, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse
1954 National Prize, Class 1 for Acting for Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse


1972 Reife Kirschen (Ripe Cherries)
1972 Gefährliche Reise (Dangerous Voyage, TV mini-series)
1971 KLK an PTX – Die Rote Kapelle (KLK to PTX: The Red Orchestra)
1970 Jeder stirbt für sich allein (Everybody Dies Alone, TV mini-series)
1968 Krupp und Krause (Krupp & Krause, TV mini-series)
1967 Heroin (Heroin)
1967 Brot und Rosen (Bread and Roses)
1966 Reise ins Ehebett (Journey into the Nuptial Bed)
1966 Alfons Zitterbacke (Alfons Wobblecheek)
1965 Der Frühling braucht Zeit (Spring Takes Time)
1965/90 Wenn du groß bist, lieber Adam (When You're Older, Dear Adam)
1965 Lots Weib (Lot's Wife)
1965 Ballade vom Roten Mohn (The Ballad of Red Poppy, TV)
1964 Der Reserveheld (Hero of the Reserve)
1963 Preludio 11 (Prelude 11)
1963 Schwarzer Samt (Black Velvet)
1962 Geheimarchiv an der Elbe (Secret Files)
1962 Nebel (Fog)
1961 Der Traum des Hauptmann Loy (Captain Loy's Dream)
1961 Das Kleid (The Robe)
1960 Die Liebe und der Co-Pilot (Love and the Co-Pilot)
1960 Der Moorhund (The Dog in the Moors)
1959 Der schweigende Stern (The Silent Star)
1959 Einer von uns (One of Us)
1959 Eine alte Liebe (An Old Love)
1958 Das Lied der Matrosen (The Sailors' Song)
1958 Geschwader Fledermaus (The Bat Squadron)  
1958 Meine Frau macht Musik (My Wife Makes Music)
1958 Sonnensucher (Sun Seekers)
1957 Vergeßt mir meine Traudel nicht (Don't Forget My Little Traudel)
1957 Sheriff Teddy
1956 Tinko
1955 Treffpunkt Aimée (Rendezvous Aimée)
1955 Ernst Thälmann – Führer seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Leader of the Working Class)
1954 Ernst Thälmann – Sohn seiner Klasse (Ernst Thälmann: Son of the Working Class)
1952 Anna Susanna
1951 Das verurteilte Dorf

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