Paul Morgan

1886 (Vienna) - 1938 (KZ Buchenwald)


"I believe in the Lord, and there’s no arguing with Him … it’s not always easy to submit to one’s fate and just patiently wait and see what happens …"

Georg Paul Morgan (real name Morgenstern) was born in Vienna on 1 October 1886 the son of a lawyer, and baptized as a Catholic. He attended the Catholic boarding school at Horn, Lower Austria, but had to leave because of bad marks and for secretly reading plays by Arthur Schnitzler. After completing his school education in Vienna he studied law in keeping with his father’s wishes. In 1906–07 he attended the conservatory for the performing arts in Vienna, and in 1908 made his first stage appearances. In 1912 he was engaged to perform in Czernowitz, and in 1914 succeeded Fritz Grünbaum at the Vienna Simplicissimus cabaret; he made numerous theatre and cabaret appearances in Vienna and Berlin, acted in both silent and sound films, and was the author of screenplays and collections of humorous texts.

In the mid 1920s he moved to Berlin, where he worked with Max Hansen, Wilhelm Bendow, Curt Bois, Elisabeth Bergner, Käte Haack, Hans Moser, Adele Sandrock and others. In 1928 he appeared with Fritz Grünbaum at the Kabarett der Komiker ("Cabaret of Comedians") in Berlin. In 1930–31 he obtained contracts with MGM in Hollywood, worked with Heinrich George and Buster Keaton, and met Marlene Dietrich on more than one occasion. In 1931 he returned to Berlin, where he acted with Fritz Grünbaum in the film Arm wie eine Kirchenmaus ("Poor as a Church Mouse"). In 1933 he fled to Vienna to escape the National Socialists, and obtained occasional engagements to perform in Austria, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia.

Nine days after the German entry into Austria, Morgan was arrested by the Gestapo in Vienna because of his Jewish grandparents. While he was being held in the prison on Elisabethpromenade, his wife made unsuccessful efforts to secure his release and obtain permission for him to emigrate to the Netherlands or Yugoslavia. From the police prison in Vienna he was transferred in May 1938 to Dachau Concentration Camp. There, together with Hermann Leopoldi and Fritz Grünbaum, he organized entertainments for fellow inmates. In September 1938 Paul Morgan was transferred to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he died on 10 December 1938.