As a young boy growing up in Berlin, Harry developed a love for the theater. At 15 he began acting in minor roles at a theater at the Nollendorfplatz. He was also apprenticed to a hairdresser but disliked the work. He spent most of his time with other actors, both at the theater and in nightclubs where gay men gathered.
1933-39: When the Nazis came to power, they closed the gay bars. Some gay men, especially those who were Jewish, were killed by Nazi sympathizers; Harry's friend "Susi," a drag queen, was stabbed to death. In 1936 Harry was arrested under the Nazi-revised paragraph 175 of the criminal code, which outlawed homosexuality. He was imprisoned in a camp at Neusustrum, where he worked in the marshes 12 hours a day. After 15 months he was released.
1940-44: In 1943 Harry was turned in by two boys pressured by the Gestapo to denounce gay men. Again he was sentenced under paragraph 175. Again Harry was released, this time after only eight months because friends in the theater intervened on his behalf. He was then drafted into the army but wherever he went, people knew of his 175 conviction and called him homophobic slurs. Harry couldn't stand it and deserted twice. Finally, as punishment, he was sent to a special combat unit in which almost everyone was killed. Somehow he managed to survive.
After the war, Harry started his own small theater.