Born in Giessen, near Frankfurt, Hein Heckroth studied art in Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf and Paris. Up until the rise of Hitler, he exhibited regularly in Cologne and Munich including Das Junge Rheinland exhibition. After being blacklisted by the Nazis, he arrived in Devon in 1935 to take up the post of Director of the Dartington Art Studio. Dartington Hall became a refuge for exiles talented in many fields. At the outbreak of the 2nd World War, Hein Heckroth was still technically a German citizen. Rather than be interned, he departed for Australia by boat; a journey that proved to be as near to hell as he had ever experienced. Cecil Collins succeeded him at Dartington. On his return to England in 1945 he joined the writer-director duo, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger as film/costume/set designer, working regularly on many of the famous Powell and Pressburger films that were to be released over the next two or three decades. He was production designer for the acclaimed, A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven) (1940) and for the classic The Red Shoes (1948), for which he won an Oscar. In the 1950s he emigrated to Hollywood where he worked with Alfred Hitchcock as the production designer for Torn Curtain (1966).