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24 January 2014

Hans Stüwe

German actor and singer Hans Stüwe (1901-1976) was also a renown opera director and music historian. With his striking, ascetic looks, he became a big star of the German cinema of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. Four times he was the film partner of Ufa diva Zarah Leander.

Hans Stüwe
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5082. Photo: PDC Verleih Mondial A.G.

Hans Stüwe
Austrian postcard by Iris Verlag, no. 5781. Photo: AAFA / Lux Film Verleih.

Hans Stüwe
French postcard by Cinemagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 604.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 645, 1919-1924. Photo: Atelier Schneider, Berlin.

Striking Ascetic Looks


Hans Stüwe was born in Halle an der Saale, Germany, in 1901. His father was a landowner.

Hans studied art history and music in Halle and Leipzig, and in 1923 he made his debut as a baritone at the Stadttheater in Königsberg. He would engage in directing operas and through the years he presented many forgotten operas and published also books on music theory.

He moved to Berlin and started to work as a stage actor too. His role in the play Des Königs befehl (The King's Order) in 1926 made him a big star. From then on he also started to work as a film actor.

With his striking, ascetic looks he soon became a well-known face. In Prinz Louis Ferdinand/Prince Louis Ferdinand (Hans Behrendt, 1927) he already played the title role. This silent historical film, based on the life of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1772–1806), was part of the series of Prussian films made during the Weimar period.

In the crime film Feme/Assassination (Richard Oswald, 1927) he was an assassin, in Schinderhannes/The Prince of Rogues (Kurt/Curtis Bernhardt, 1928) he embodied the18th century outlaw Schinderhannes, in the French-German horror film Cagliostro (Richard Oswald, 1929) he was the eighteenth century Italian occultist Alessandro Cagliostro, and in Die Jugendgeliebte/Goethe's Young Love (Hans Tintner, 1930) he played the famous poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3267/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Atelier König-Rohde, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4006/1, 1929-1930.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4237/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Dührkoop, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4285/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Atelier Sandau, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 4953/1, 1929-1930. Photo: Yva, Berlin.

Patriotic Films


In the first German feature full sound film Dich hab ich geliebt/Because I Loved You (Rudolph Walther-Fein, 1929), Hans Stüwe had the leading role opposite Mady Christians. It followed part-sound films which had been released earlier in the year.

Next he appeared in the Swiss-German war film Tannenberg (Heinz Paul, 1932), based around the 1914 Battle of Tannenberg during the First World War, a notable German victory. The film focuses on a German landowner Captain von Arndt and his family. The production cost over half a million Reichsmarks to make and employed 8,000 people.

Tannenberg was in sharp contrast to recent anti-war films such as Westfront 1918 (G.W. Pabst, 1930), and served as a national symbol in Germany. It was due to be released on 26 August 1932, the eighteenth anniversary of the battle, but was delayed by the censors acting on a request from the German President Paul von Hindenburg who was unhappy with his portrayal in the film and the première was pushed back until certain scenes had been cut. The film was re-issued in 1936 during the Nazi era.

In another patriotic film, Trenck - Der Roman einer großen Liebe/Trenck (Ernst Neubach, Heinz Paul, 1932), Stüwe played the Eighteenth century adventurer Friedrich von der Trenck.

In Die Tänzerin von Sanssouci/The Dancer of Sanssouci (Friedrich/Frederic Zelnik, 1932), he played Baron von Cocceji , who was the rival of Prussian ruler Friedrich dem Großen (Frederick the Great) (Otto Gebühr) in courting the Italian dance girl Barberina (Lil Dagover).

In another costume drama, Liselotte von der Pfalz/Private Life of Louis XIV (Carl Froelich, 1935) he appeared as Liselotte's (Renate Müller) husband, Philipp von Orleans.

In Richard Eichberg's big adventure epic Der Tiger von Eschnapur/The Tiger of Eschnapur and the sequel Das indische Grabmal/The Indian/The Indian Tomb (Richard Eichberg, 1938), he excelled as the German architect Peter Fürbringeras, who travels to India to build a tomb for the Rajah (Frits van Dongen).

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5168/2, 1930-1931. Photo: Elli Cahn, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5518, 1930-1931. Photo: Atelier Elli Cahn, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 5537/1, 1930-1931. Photo: Harlip, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
French postcard in the Europe series, nr. 602. Sent by mail in 1933.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 6853/1, 1931-1932. Photo: Lydor, Berlin / Aafa Film.

Zarah Leander


Hans Stüwe embodied the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Es war eine rauschende Ballnacht/It Was a Gay Ball night (Carl Froelich, 1939), co-starring with Zarah Leander and Marika Rökk.

He was again the film partner of Zarah Leander in Der Weg ins Freie/The Way to Freedom (Rolf Hansen, 1941), Damals/At That Time (Rolf Hansen, 1943) and Ave Maria (Alfred Braun, 1953).

After the Second World War, Stüwe engaged himself with directing operas. He suffered from depressions and in the summer of 1950 he did several suicide attempts.

Recovered in 1951, he decided to start acting again. He played a central role in the classic Heimatfilm Grün ist die Heide/The Heath Is Green (Hans Deppe, 1951).

He also had good parts in other Heimatfilms such as Am Brunnen vor dem Tore/At the fountain in front of the gates (Hans Wolff, 1952) opposite Sonja Ziemann, and Komm zurück.../Come Back... (Alfred Braun, 1953).

In 1957 he had his final film role in Blaue Jungs/Seamen (Wolfgang Schleif, 1957) with Karlheinz Böhm, made on location in Hawaii and Tahiti.

From then on he focussed completely on his work as an opera and stage director, and he also worked for radio and TV.

In 1976, Hans Stüwe died of cancer in Berlin, at the age of 75. He was married to Dolbrina Kalschewa. Reportedly the actor had been so shy and reserved that Kalschewa had to ask him to marry her. The pair had a son.

Zarah Leander, Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3145/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Lindner / Ufa. Publicity still for Der Weg ins Freie/The Way to Freedom (Rolf Hansen, 1941) with Zarah Leander.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 2527/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3127/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 3314/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Foto Binz, Berlin.

Hans Stüwe
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3745/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.


Zarah Leander sings Nur nicht aus liebe weinen (Just don't cry for love) in Es war eine Rauschende Ballnacht/It Was a Gay Ballnight (1939).

Sources: Stephanie D'heil (Steffi-line) (German), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Rudi Polt (IMDb), Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.