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Exile and Return – Harry Raymon

27. January 2012 – 1. May 2012

A local celebrity from Munich at the Schwules Museum in Berlin? Harry Raymon has roots in Berlin, too. In 1957, he starred alongside Horst Buchholz in Georg Tressler’s Endstation Liebe, in which Raymon played a young worker. In the early 1960s, he was part of a group that founded the Forum Theater on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, where he directed and also appeared as an actor. After his service in the United States Army, Raymon completed his training as an actor at Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop. He made his first appearances there and at the summer theater, where he stood on stage alongside Tony Curtis.

He was born Harry Heymann in Kirchberg, Hunsrück, where his father owned a textile business. As the Nazi reprisal against Jewish citizens began in 1933, Harry’s mother began to push for emigration. The family emigrated to the United States in 1936. Harry attended school in New York and began to dream of a career as a movie star. His parents, however, bought a chicken farm in New Jersey. In 1944, following his graduation from high school, Harry was drafted into the United States Army, where he served as an interrogator of prisoners of war. At the same time, he attended acting classes as part of training for American soldiers offered by the U.S. Army for soldiers serving in France. Interestingly, Marlene Dietrich was a guest lecturer in the program.

In 1948, Harry Raymon migrated to Stuttgart via Paris. In Stuttgart, Raymon studied voice at the college of music. His parents were not thrilled at Raymon’s return to that perpetrating country. Still, he founded the pantomime theater Die Gaukler in Stuttgart. The group was successful and performed throughout Europe until 1955. With his boyfriend Wolfgang Parr, he tried his hand at playwriting. In 1963, his first piece appeared in the Fischer-Verlag. In 1982, his directorial debut, Regentropfen appeared in the Forum des jungen Films. The piece marked Raymon’s first effort to artistically portray the experiences his family endured while emigrating. Further acting and work as a voice-over artist would follow for Raymon. Harry would discover that in Germany, he was often cast as a foreigner, particularly as an Arab. His acting career came to a halt. Work as a tour guide proved to be temporary, and work in television, theater, and advertising followed. He portrayed gay life in his documentary Im Glockenbachviertel von München, which appeared in 2007. From time to time, Raymon wrote novels and stories. In 2005, his autobiographical novel Einmal Exil und Zurück – the title of our exhibition – was published. On display in our exhibition are photographs and documents from Harry Raymon that are supplemented by material from the Berlin City Museum, the Jewish Museum of Munich, and the German Film Archive, as well as pieces on loan from private collections.

Curator: Wolfgang Theis