Weimar Babe: Camilla Spira (1906-1997)
“Camilla Spira was born on March 1st 1906 in Hamburg. At 13, she attended the Max-Reinhardt acting school which lead to several theatre roles in Hamburg, Vienna and Berlin. She made her film debut in 1924 at the age of 18 and went on to appear in several more silent films over the next few years. It was in 1930 that she landed the role of Josepha in the Erik Charrell operetta “Im Weißen Rössl” (The White Horse Inn) to great critical acclaim. Also in 1930, she appeared in the Rudolf Nelson revue “Der Rote Faden” alongside a stellar line-up of Berlin Cabaret stars.
She continued to work in cabaret and film into the early 1930′s but her Jewish background forced her with her husband and two children to flee to Amsterdam in 1938. The whole family was deported to Westerbork Concentration camp in 1943, where, along with other great cabaret performers like Willy Rosen, Max Ehrlich and Kurt Gerron, they were ‘encouraged’ to perform for the other inmates in cabaret revues. Six cabaret revues were staged at Westerbork between June 1943 and June 1944. Eventually, aided by her mother’s lie that the actor Fritz Spira was not in fact her real father, and a hefty bribe from a Dutch friend, she was declared ‘Aryan’ and the family were released. She survived the war and, in 1947, returned to Berlin, resuming her film career and was hugely successful over the next 20 years.”