New Focus Features – the company behind the film The Danish Girl, has offered to cover the costs to reconstruct Lili Elbe’s grave. Lili Elbe is the infamous ‘Danish girl’, as featured in the film that was shot in Denmark.
Elbe was born Einar Wegener in 1882 in Denmark. Though he was a successful painter and happily married, Wegener never felt comfortable living as a man. The couple moved to Paris where Elbe could live as a women and her wife, Gerda Gottlieb, as a lesbian. Elbe travelled to Germany in 1930 for sex reassignment surgery, which was a highly experimental procedure at the time. She underwent a series of four operations over the course of months in Berlin and later Dresden. The final procedure to transplant a womb – decades before the invention of drugs to prevent the body rejecting transplants – proved fatal. Elbe passed away in 1931 and was buried in the Trinity Cemetery in Dresden.
For unknown reasons, the gravestone was moved in the 1950s or 1960s, but no one else has been buried in the plot since.
The UK production company behind The Danish Girl, New Focus Features, will cover the costs to reinstate the grave. The grave is to be officially inaugurated on Friday at a ceremony attended by the Danish ambassador to Germany, film producer Gail Mutrux and David Ebershoff, author of the novel that became The Danish Girl movie.