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Kurt Tucholsky, a committed writer

Kurt Tucholsky was a German writer of Jewish descent (1890 -1935.) He also was a satirist and journalist, and he adopted many pseudonyms during his literary career; he signed as Ignaz Wrobel, Kaspar Hauser, Theobald Tiger and Peter Panter. He’s considered to have been a figure in German journalism, and he spent most of his life in his country, moving to France just in 1924. He was considered to be a democrat from the leftwing and his satires to political issues earned him a place among the greatest of his epoch. In his books, he warned about the inherent danger of the German national movement, and his books were censored when the Nazis took the power.

The beginnings

Having spend his childhood in Stettin (currently in Poland), he returned to Berlin with his family to pursue his studies. He finished a doctorate in law, but he never exercised that profession. He’d already written some articles for journals while he was at school, and at university he wrote for the social democratic party.

Social commitment

Tucholsky went on writing till the outbreak of the war. He was conscripted and sent to the front. There he was a soldier and company writer. When the war was over, he worked for a while for a propaganda magazine, which he regretted later. But he never gave up writing for the left-wing cause and he criticized specially the militarization and antidemocratization of the new regime. He publicly denounced the political crimes against the German Republic and in his poems he appealed to the people to stand out against the injustice and inhumanities of the new system.

© Image via Wikimedia Commons – „Kurt Tucholsky in Paris, 1928“ by Sonja Thomassen Some Rights Reserved
Marcel Reich-Ranicki: ‘Pope of Literature’

Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a Polish-German Jew, was born in Poland, but
moved to Berlin with his family a few years later. However, in 1929, he
was deported to Poland along with thousands of other Polish Jews. In
1940, he was living in a ghetto in Warsaw with his parents, working as a
translator and a critic.

His Career

After working for some time for the Polish Defence Ministry publishing
literature from authors of the German Democratic Republic, he gave it up
and started on his own as a freelance writer and also doing broadcasting
work. In 1958, he immigrated to Germany and worked for various
mainstream newspapers like Die Zeit and Frankfurter Allgemeine
Zeitung. He also hosted a television program which helped in making him
a household name.
So popular and powerful was he that he could make and break careers.
He was also a professor at American universities and later a visiting
professor at Stockholm and Uppsala universities. He has also taught at
other institutions like the University of Tübingen, the University of
Düsseldorf and the University of Karlsruhe. At the same time he
continued his writing endeavours and critical writings. His teaching
career, his literary publications and his television shows garnered him
publicity – he was often quoted in newspapers and magazines – and
acclaim. His autobiography, The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel
Reich-Ranicki gives minute details of his life in early Germany, Poland
and post war Germany, his military and intelligence stints and more.

His Awards

He was honoured with many awards including the Silver Cross of Merit
(Poland) and Honorary Doctorate of the University of Uppsala in 1972,
the Heine badge in 1976 and Ricarda-Huch-Price in 1981. He has
received many honorary doctorates, television awards, medals and prizes
for his innumerable literary achievements.
His words and views are often quoted and whatever he says makes
headlines and often incites a controversy. Above all, Reich-Ranicki is
fiercely individualistic and has never been afraid to speak his mind.

Friedrich Nicolai, a defender of literature

Friedrich Nicolai was a talented German writer, of great importance for
the development of German literature. He’s famous for his defense of
John Milton against Gottsched and other opponents. He wrote some
romance novels like “The life and opinions of the Magister Sebaldus
Nothanker”, which was reputed among his contemporaries, and some
satires, like “The joys of Young Werther”, alluding to Goethe’s Werther,
which was also well received by the critics. Another of Nicolai’s works
that is worth reading and also has historical value is his “Anekdoten von
Friedrich II.”

His early life

Born in 1733 in Berlin, Nicolai was well educated in his hometown before
moving to Frankfurt (Oder) in 1749 in order to follow his father’s trade.
However, he found time to read and English literature and to develop his
writing skills. Once back in Berlin, he published a series of writings in
defense of John Milton and this passion for the writer and for English
literature earned him the appreciation of M. Mendelssohn and Gotthold E.
Lessing, with whom he became friends.

His achievements

Nicolai established and conducted a journal until 1970 and, along with
Lessing and Mendelssohn, he edited two other famous journals: “The
Universal German Library” and the “Letters concerning to the most
recent literature.” This was an elemental tool that served the purpose of
giving popular philosophers the opportunity to fight against extravagant
literature and religious authority. After a life dedicated to the literary
cause and years of work as a bookseller, Nicolai died in 1811 in the city
where he was born: Berlin.

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