Fritz Grünbaum

Fritz Grünbaum

Birth
Brno, Okres Brno-mesto, Jihomoravský (South Moravia), Czech Republic
Death 14 Jan 1941 (aged 60)
Dachau, Landkreis Dachau, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Burial Vienna, Wien Stadt, Vienna (Wien), Austria
Plot Jewish section, Gate 1
Memorial ID 42360185 · View Source
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Entertainer. Born in Brno, Moravia (now in The Czech Republic), the son of a Jewish art dealer, he went to Vienna at 18 to study law but was drawn to the theatre. He first made his name as an author of operetta librettos, notably for Leo Fall's hit "The Dollar Princess" (1907), while his reputation for quick-witted repartee started getting him gigs at local nightclubs. In 1914 Grünbaum debuted at the legendary Viennese cabaret "Simpl" and was a fixture there for nearly 25 years, performing as Master of Ceremonies or as a comedy duo with Karl Farkus. After World War I he divided his career between Vienna, Berlin, and Budapest. He also appeared in a dozen early talkie films, among them "The Theft of the Mona Lisa" (1931), "The Good Sinners" (1931), "A Song, A Kiss, A Girl" (1932), and "Man with No Name" (1932), and the stage musical "Dream Express" (1931), which he co-wrote with Farkas. Sharp political satire was always part of his act. An ardent anti-fascist, he was barred from performing in Germany and Hungary in 1933 but continued to mock Hitler in Vienna long after it became dangerous for him to do so. At his final appearance at "Simpl" in February 1938, Grünbaum made his entrance onto a darkened stage and cried, "I see nothing, absolutely nothing! I must have stepped into the National Socialist culture!" The following month Germany annexed Austria and Grünbaum attempted to flee to Czechoslovakia, only to be turned away at the border. He was arrested soon afterwards. Imprisoned at Dachau, Buchenwald, then again at Dachau, the irrepressible comedian clandestinely entertained his fellow prisoners with mordant humor about concentration camp life. On New Year's Eve 1940 Grünbaum gave his last performance to patients at the Dachau infirmary, even though he was mortally ill with tuberculosis. When an inmate recognized him he identified himself only by his camp number and said, "I just want to spread a little happiness on this last day of the year". He died two weeks later. At least he was permitted the dignity of having his body returned to Vienna for burial at the Zentralfriedhof's Jewish section. His tombstone bears a cenotaph for his wife Lilly, who died at Auschwitz in 1942. Grünbaum was a noted art connoisseur. Following his arrest the Nazis stole his 450-piece collection, which included works by Durer, Rembrandt, Degas, Kokoschka, and over 60 by Egon Schiele. Some are still unaccounted for.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bobb Edwards
  • Added: 25 Sep 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 42360185
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Fritz Grünbaum (7 Apr 1880–14 Jan 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 42360185, citing Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Wien Stadt, Vienna (Wien), Austria ; Maintained by Find A Grave .