Who was Hans Albers, you ask?

Well if you’re German, or familiar with German cinema, you know he was one of the biggest film stars and recording stars in Germany of the 20th Century.

American film buffs know him as Mazeppa, the strong man in The Blue Angel, which starred Marlene Dietrich and Emil Jannings. Unlike Jannings, who’d been in Hollywood and became an international star, Albers’ entire career was in Germany. One of his famous roles in the 30s was that of Sherlock Holmes.

Like Jannings, Albers started in silents. He made an easy transition to sound and was the star of the first all-talking German picture from the famous UFA studio.

Like Jannings he made films all through the Nazi regime, but unlike Jannings he was NOT tainted (he made no propaganda films), and did not have to go through denazification at war’s end.

The power of his stardom allowed him and his half Jewish lover, Hansi Burg, to remain free of any political inference in Nazi-ruled Germany. He was a member of the party and that was all that was asked of him.

But eventually his relationship with Burg was considered too embarrassing, and she was allowed to move to Switzerland. She then emigrated to England. But he was allowed to financially support her.

When the war ended Burg returned to Germany in a British Army uniform, and helped Albers in his escape of any serious repercussions. He had money (he had been well paid during the war years), and he wasn’t banned from working as others who’d made films for the Nazis were.

Still his film career stalled.

However, he continued his record career and did return to films as a character actor.

He is thought of as a staple of German cinema of the 20th century, and his popularity there is often compared to that of John Wayne’s in the US. Although they never wed he and Hansi Burg were together until he died in 1960.

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