The Iffland Ring is awarded to the "most worthy" actors who perform in German. But it comes with a supposed jinx, accusations of sexism and an association with the Nazis.

After Swiss actor Bruno Ganz died in February, officials in Vienna opened a safe to reveal a tightly guarded secret. Inside was a slip of paper with Ganz's signature, and the name of an actor he had chosen. It was the beginning of one of the stranger rituals in European theatre.

Ganz, who is best known internationally for playing an angel in the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire and

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