Peter Sturm

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Peter Sturm
Peter Sturm as Walter Model in the 1970 film Liberation: The Fire Bulge.
Born Josef Michel Dischel
(1909-08-24)24 August 1909
Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died 11 May 1984(1984-05-11) (aged 74)
Berlin, German Democratic Republic
Occupation Actor
Years active 1936–1983

Josef Michel Dischel (24 August 1909 – 11 May 1984), known by his adopted stage name Peter Sturm, was an Austrian and an East German actor.


Early life

Dischel[1][2] was born into a religious Jewish family in Vienna. His father was a tailor, originally from the Polish regions of the Habsburg Empire, and died in 1915. His mother was born in Hungary.[3]

Dischel had taken up an apprenticeship as a textile merchant, but abandoned it.[2] He then decided to become an actor, and began taking drama lessons from renowned Austrian performer Raoul Aslan. While studying, he worked as a radio mechanic.[4] After completing his studies, he assumed the stage name Peter Sturm. He joined the Social Democratic Party of Austria when he was nineteen years old, and later turned to an active member of the Communist Party of Austria, that was declared illegal by Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss. In 1935, he was convicted of high treason and condemned to two and a half years in prison. Sturm eventually served eighteen months, in the Stein an der Donau prison[2] and in the Wöllersdorf detention camp.[5] In 1936, subsequent to his release, he joined the cast of Brettl am Alsergrund, a political, left-leaning kabarett in Vienna's Alsergrund district, that was managed by Leon Askin and commonly known as Das ABC Kabarett.[a 1][6] The actor was one of the cabaret's three declared communists, alongside Jura Soyfer and Robert Klein-Lörk.[7]


In May 1938, after the Anschluss, Sturm was arrested and sent to the Dachau concentration camp. In August, he was transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp,[2][8] where he was held in the same barrack with actor Fritz Grünbaum.[9] He was registered as an Austrian political prisoner.[10] In April 1939, Sturm was released from Buchenwald and allowed to leave Germany. He emigrated to Italy, spending three months in Milan. Then, he illegally crossed the border into France, settling in Marseilles. After the Second World War broke out in September, he was interned in the Camp des Milles, where he acted in the camp's makeshift theater. On 27 June 1941, shortly after France surrendered to Germany, the camp's residents were to be evacuated on a train to Bayonne. Sturm managed to escape. He lived in Marseilles until August 1942, when he was deported to the Drancy internment camp, from which he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.[1][11] He was held in the Blechhammer sub-camp, where he was forced to serve as a barber. Occasionally, when the guards authorized it, he participated in theater evenings.[12] In January 1945, the prisoners were evacuated to Buchenwald in a death march. Sturm survived it and wrote an account on the march shortly after arriving in Buchenwald.[13] He joined the camp's communist underground organization. While in Buchenwald, he was a member of the building detachment headed by Robert Siewert.[14] During the Holocaust, his mother was murdered in Auschwitz.[2] Buchenwald was liberated on 11 April 1945.

Later years

Sturm returned to Vienna, where he resumed his acting career and worked as a radio presenter. He appeared regularly on the stage of the Theater in der Josefstadt, and later joined the cast of the New Theater in the Scala[2] in the city's Wieden district, then in the Soviet-administrated zone. The theater, opened in 1948, was founded by communist exiles who returned to Austria after the end of the war. Sturm made his debut on screen in the 1956 film adaptation of the operetta Gasparone. During the same year - after the Soviet withdrawal from Austria left it without financial and political support - the Scala had to be closed.[a 2] With several other fellow actors from the theater, Sturm left Vienna and emigrated to the German Democratic Republic, settling in East Berlin.[2] There, director Wolfgang Langhoff took him into the Deutsches Theater, in which he remained a member of the regular cast.[15][16] In 1960, he performed the role of August Rose, a Buchenwald prisoner who betrays his friends, in a television production based on Bruno Apitz's novel Naked Among Wolves. On 30 March 1961 Sturm was awarded the Art Prize of the German Democratic Republic.[17][18] In 1963, when he was requested to play August Rose once more for Frank Beyer's film remake of the series, Apitz and Beyer had to convince him to agree.[19] Sturm was badly depressed by the work on Naked Among Wolves, and became very ill after the filming ended.[20] He was involved in the commemoration of Buchenwald's victims until his departure.[14]

Sturm had a long career as an actor with DEFA and DFF in East Germany, appearing in more than fifty cinema and television productions.


Year Title Role Notes
1956 Gasparone Uncredited role
1959 Goods for Catalonia Dupont
1959 An Old Love Heinrich Rantsch
1960 One of Us Uncredited role
1960 Master Puntila and His Servant Matti Uncredited role
1960 No Trouble with Cleopatra Mathias Kahlow
1960 The Dog In The Moors Karl Schultz
1960 The Hedgehog: The Woman of his Dreams Department chief Krause (short)
1961 Stone Age Ballad Berger
1961 Professor Mamlock Doctor Hirsch
1961 Death Has a Face Old man in the morgue
1961 The Hedgehog: Fairly Good Improvement Jochen Emsig (short)
1962 On the Sunny Side Intendant Pabst
1962 Julian Boell´s Discovery Wilhelm Zoch
1963 Naked Among Wolves August Rose
1963 Reserved for the Death Train conductor
1965 Karla Hartmann
1965 As Long as There is Life in Me Ober
1966 Living Ware Mahlmann
1968 Heroin Commisar Doboka
1970 Liberation I: The Fire Bulge Colonel-General Walter Model
1971 Liberation III: The Direction of the Main Blow Field Marshal Walter Model
1971 KLK Calling PTZ - The Red Orchestra Krapotschkin
1975 Jacob the Liar Schmidt
1979 Just Put Flowers on the Roof Hotel receptionist
1980 Johann Sebastian Bach's Forgotten Journey to Glory Neighbour
1980 Max and Seven-and-a-Half Boys Max
1981 The Daughters' Hour Brigadier Fuchs
1981 The Colony Rudi Baden
Year Title Role Notes
1960 Naked Among Wolves August Rose
1962 David and Goliath Sophus Möller
1962 Television Pitaval Uncredited role Episode 2: Shot While Fleeing
1963 Television Pitaval Counsillor Heigl Episode 3: The Heyde-Sawade Affair
1963 The Trail Leads to the 7th Heaven Detective Superintendent Müller All five episodes
1963 Vanina Vanini Asdrubale Vanini
1965 The Man from Heinitz Wünsche
1965-6 Doctor Schlüter Professor Tolset
1965 Moments of Joy Mühlmann
1966 The Persians Uncredited role
1966 The Investigation: An Oratorio in Eleven Acts Arthur Breitwieser
1967 Little Man, What Now? Salesman in the bed store
1967 Ruhr in Flames Hövelmann
1969 Krupp and Krause Piachowsky
1969 The Lady from Genua Uncredited role
1970 Every Man Dies Alone Uncredited role
1972 The Pictures of Witness Schattmann Elias Lernamnn
1974 Late Season Psychiatrist
1975 Police Call 110 Old man Episode no. 32: A Case without Witnesses
1977 The Love and the Queen Sir Joshua Farnaby
1979 The Prosecutor Has the Floor Doctor Feigel Episode no. 58: To Celebrate this Day
1980 Regina or the Trap Ludwig Blume
1980 Outside in Heidedorf Harmonica player
1980 An Advertisement in the Newspaper Alfred Just
1981 Jockey Monika Mr. Zaubel Episode no. 6: Inventors Love Practicality
1981 The Uninvited Guest Uncredited role Part 2
1982 Hotel Polan and its Guests Doctor Levi / Doctor Silberstein
1983 Martin Luther Hans Luther
1983 Evening in Kelch Wirt
1983 Bruno H. Bürgel - Berlin's Heaven August Jost
1983 The Stage is Set Uncredited role
Voice actor
Year Title Role Notes
1958 Naked Among Wolves Pippig Radio drama
1960 First Spaceship on Venus Professor Sołtyk Dubbing character in the German version
1968 Hauptmann Florian von der Mühle Police chief Dubbing Rolf Hoppe; voice only


  1. 1.0 1.1 Centre dʹétudes et de recherches autrichiennes. Austriaca, n°19 - Ecrivains autrichiens exilés en France. Université de Rouen (November 1984). ISSN 0396-4590. p. 31.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 International Dachau Committee. Dachauer Hefte: Volume 11. Verlag Dachauer Hefte (1995). ISSN 0257-9472. p. 66.
  3. Helga Schwarz-Stötzer. Mit Leib und Seele: 25 Porträts bekannter Schauspieler der DDR. Berliner Verlag (1990). ISBN 978-3-86020-013-1. pp. 195-196.
  4. Kay Weniger. Zwischen Bühne und Baracke: Lexikon der verfolgten Theater-, Film- und Musikkünstler 1933–1945. Metropol (2008). ISBN 978-3938690109. p. 331.
  5. Evelyn Deutsch-Schreiner. Karl Paryla: Ein Unbeherrschter. Verlag O. Muller (1992). ISBN 3-7013-0834-9. p. 86.
  6. Horst Jarka. Jura Soyfer: Leben, Werk, Zeit . Locker (1987). ISBN 978-3-85409-117-2. p. 253.
  7. Jürgen Doll. Theater im Roten Wien. Bohlau (1997). ISBN 978-3-205-98726-0. p. 276.
  8. Gertrude Schneider. Exile and Destruction: The Fate of Austrian Jews, 1938-1945. Praeger (1995). ISBN 978-0-275-95139-9. p. 170.
  9. Marie-Therese Arnbom, Christoph Wagner-Trenkwitz. Grüß mich Gott! Brandstätter (2005). ASIN B00005V8X2. p. 79.
  10. Erich Fein, Karl Flanner. Rot-Weiss-Rot in Buchenwald: die österreichischen politischen Häftlinge im Konzentrationslager am Ettersberg bei Weimar, 1938-1945. Europaverlag (1987). ISBN 978-3-203-50982-2. p. 295.
  11. Serge Klarsfeld. Memorial to the Jews deported from France, 1942-1944: documentation of the deportation of the victims of the Final Solution in France. Beate Klarsfeld Foundation (1983). ASIN B0000EE3SR. p. 263.
  12. Claude Winkler-Bessone, Jean-Marie Winkler. Les camps d'internement français, 1939-1942 : témoignages d'un dessinateur autrichie. Publications de l'Université de Rouen (2000). ISBN 978-2-87775-290-9. p. 35.
  13. Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (Universiṭah ha-ʻIvrit bi-Yerushalayim). Antisemitism, Volume 10, Part 2. K.G. Saur Verlag, 1999. ISBN 978-3-598-23707-2. p. 1361.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Thomas Heimann. Bilder von Buchenwald. Böhlau (2005). ISBN 3-412-09804-3. pp. 82-84, 192-194.
  15. Horst Kessler, Fred Staufenbiel (editors). Theater der Zeit: Volume 39, Issues 1-6. Verband der Theaterschaffenden der DDR (1984). ISSN 0040-5418. p. 67.
  16. Katholische Filmkommission für Deutschland. Film-Dienst, Issues 1-9. Katholisches Institut für Medieninformation (2004). ISSN 0720-0781. p. 15.
  17. Hans Blaimer. Kultur in unserer Zeit. Zur Theorie und Praxis der sozialistischen Kulturrevolution in der DDR. Dietz Verlag (1965). ASIN B003TWC1H6. p. 431.
  18. Erika Tschernig, Monika Kollega, Gudrun Müller. Unsere Kultur: DDR-Zeittafel, 1945-1987. Dietz Verlag (1989). ISBN 978-3-320-01132-1. p. 121.
  19. Thomas Beutelschmidt, Rüdiger Steinlein. Realitätskonstruktion: Faschismus und Antifaschismus in den Literaturverfilmungen des DDR-Fernsehens. Leipziger Universitätsverlag (2004). ISBN 978-3-937209-78-4. p. 35.
  20. Martina Thiele. Publizistische Kontroversen über den Holocaust im Film. ISBN 3-8258-5807-3. p. 244.


  1. The cabaret was originally housed in a building located in Café City, at the corner of the Alsergrund's Porzellangasse and Berggasse. ABC stood for the initials of 'Alsergrund, Brettl, City'. In 1935, Das ABC moved to Arkaden Cafe, in Universitätstraße 3. See: Hilde Haider-Pregler, Beate Reiterer (editors). Verspielte Zeit. Österreichisches Theater der dreißiger Jahre. ISBN 978-3-85452-402-1. p. 240.
  2. Beside taking up a communist and a pro-Soviet line, the Scala also openly defied the ban imposed on Bertolt Brecht's plays in Vienna. Journalists Friedrich Torberg and Hans Weigel, both fierce opponents of the playwright, were calling for the theater's closure since the early 1950s. See: Carmen R Köper. Ein unheiliges Experiment: Das neue Theater in der Scala (1948-1956) Löcker (1995). ISBN 978-3-85409-252-0.

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