DeKowa, Viktor

(Viktor Kowalczyk, 1904-1973)
   Actor. DeKowa was one of the most popular actors in the Third Reich. He was a member of Gustaf Gründgens's company at the Prussian State Theater from 1935 to 1943, starring in several of that theater's most popular productions. As Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband, DeKowa "combined the talents of a cabaret conférencier and a classical dramatic actor . . . speaking every line like an aphorism" (Herbert Iher-ing, "Ein idealer Gatte im Staatstheater," Berliner Börsen-Courier, 9 December 1935). DeKowa played opposite Marianne Hoppe in the State Theater's world premiere of Charlotte Rissmann's Promise Me Nothing, which ran longer in the theater's repertoire than any other contemporary play during the 1936-1937 season. In 1939, Gründgens teamed him with Käthe Gold in the sentimental romantic comedy Karl III and Anna of Austria. DeKowa appeared in more than a dozen movies during the Nazi period as well, usually in roles that required a young leading man and his love interest.
   After the war, DeKowa began appearing in films again in 1947, but his most significant role in the postwar period was as the SS officer Schmidt-Lausitz in Carl Zuckmayer's Des Teufels General (The Devil's General). That role marked his "graduation" to parts in the 1950s requiring more maturity. He was awarded numerous citations for his work in the postwar period, a demonstration perhaps of how successful he had become in putting memories of his reputation as a "Nazi heartthrob" behind him. In 1961 he received the Federal Service Cross, in 1962 the Ernst Reuter Medallion from the city of Berlin, in 1963 the Mérit Civique from the French government, and shortly before his death the Great Service Cross of the Federal Republic from Chancellor Willy Brandt.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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