Artur Brauner, Producer of Films on Holocaust, Dies at 100

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Artur Brauner, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who became one of post-World War II Germany’s most prominent film producers, died on Sunday in Berlin. He was 100.

His family confirmed the death to the German news agency DPA. His 100th birthday was celebrated last September with a gala event in Berlin attended by a host of European celebrities.

The hundreds of films that Mr. Brauner produced included several with a Holocaust theme, among them Agnieszka Holland’s “Europa Europa” (1990), about a boy in Nazi Germany who joins the Hitler Youth to try to conceal the fact that he is Jewish. It won a Golden Globe.

“Babi Yar” (2003), produced by Mr. Brauner and directed by Jeff Kanew, centered on the 1941 Nazi massacre of Jews in Ukraine, in which several of Mr. Brauner’s relatives were killed. It was not a box-office success in Germany, leading Mr. Brauner to observe disappointedly that the test of “whether the German cinema public has become politically more mature” had “clearly negative” results.

Mr. Brauner was also a producer of Vittorio De Sica’s “The Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” set in Mussolini’s Italy, which won the Oscar for best foreign-language movie in 1972.

Mr. Brauner called “Morituri” (1948), about a group of concentration camp inmates whom a Polish doctor helps escape near the end of the war, his most important film. It received a negative reception at the time, but it was, he said, “practically the first film that dealt with the issue of Nazi victims.”

ImageMarco Hofschneider in “Europa Europa” (1990), about a boy in Nazi Germany who joins the Hitler Youth to try to conceal the fact that he is Jewish. Produced by Mr. Brauner and directed by Agnieszka Holland, it won a Golden Globe.
CreditOrion Classics

Mr. Brauner believed his lighter postwar films better matched the public’s taste.

“People wanted to be entertained after the terrible war, he told the Funke newspaper group in 2018, “and I had a feeling for the needs of the audience.”

The son of a Jewish wood merchant, he was born Abraham Brauner on Aug. 1, 1918, in the Polish city of Lodz. He discovered his love for the cinema at an early age and often went straight from school to a movie house.

After finishing school in 1936, he joined an expedition of young documentary filmmakers to the Middle East. He then studied in Lodz until Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. He, his parents and four siblings fled east and survived the war.

His parents later emigrated to Israel. Mr. Brauner himself considered emigrating to the United States, but instead he briefly returned to Lodz, then moved to West Berlin with his brother Wolf.

In West Berlin, Mr. Brauner was a founder of the Central Cinema Company, which went on to become one of Europe’s most important production companies. It expanded into television in the 1960s.

He wife, Maria, whom he married in 1947, died in 2017. He is survived by their four children, Fela, Alice, Sammy and Henry.

Even as he turned 100, Mr. Brauner was discussing scripts almost daily with his daughter Alice. “As soon as I am no longer around,” he said, “I can give up working.”




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