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Erich Weinert

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Statue of Weinert in Frankfurt/Oder
Statue of Weinert in Frankfurt/Oder

Erich Bernhard Gustav Weinert (4 August 1890 in Magdeburg – 20 April 1953 in Berlin) was a German Communist writer and a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).

Early life

Weinert was born in 1890 in Magdeburg to a family supporting the Social Democratic Party of Germany. He attended a boys' school in Magdeburg and, from 1908 to 1910, he visited the arts, crafts and trade school in the city and went to an art school in Berlin in 1912. He later joined the military, where he participated as an officer during World War I. It was during his time as a soldier that he was attracted to the revolutionary ideology.[1] After the war, he went to Leipzig and worked as an actor and lecture artist, joining the Communist Party of Germany in 1929. Meanwhile, he made various works.

Literary career

Weinert started writing in 1921. From the very beginning, his poems were thoroughly anti-imperialist. In the second half of the 1920s, Weinert's work leaned towards portraying the struggles of the German proletariat. In 1929, he joined the Communist Party of Germany. Weinert's works were always political, and the role of political poet, agitator, and satirist were gradually assumed, as best seen in his collections Theater of the Apes (1925) and Erich Weinert Speaks (1930).[1]

Exile and fight against fascism

Following the Nazi assumption of power, Weinert fled to Switzerland. From 1933 to 1935, Weinert, with his wife and daughter, Marianne Lange-Weinert, went into exile in the Saar protectorate. From there, he went to Paris, France, and so he would be able to arrive in the Soviet Union. Working in the Soviet Union, he published an anthology of anti-fascist poems in 1934, 'The Cobblestones and The Day Will Come'. He became a member of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War from 1937 to 1939, where he was active as a front correspondent and wrote battle poems.[2] In July 1937 he attended the Second International Writers' Congress, the purpose of which was to discuss the attitude of intellectuals to the war, held in Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid and attended by many writers including André Malraux, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Spender and Pablo Neruda.[3] He turned his experience on the Spanish front into poems, which were published in the book Camaradas (1951).[1]

After Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Weinert sided with the Soviets and began creating propaganda to encourage soldiers in the Wehrmacht to abandon their positions[4] using methods such as poems printed on handbills that were thrown off behind the German lines as well as making pleas to them via the radio and shouting slogans from the rubble of Stalingrad.[5] In 1943 he was selected as the president of the National Committee for a Free Germany. Once again the time spent on the front lines found literary expression. Weinert published his war diary under the title 'Remember Stalingrad' in 1943. Two short stories – 'Death for the Fatherland' and 'Expediency' – came out in 1942. A collection of leaflet poems written during the war came out in 1944 as 'Against the Real Enemy'. In 1947, he also published 'Chapter Two of World History: Poems About the Land of Socialism', an anthology of poems about the Soviet Union.[1]

Return to Germany

In 1946 he returned to Germany in a sickly state. Regardless, he served actively as vice-president of the Central Administration for National Education in the Soviet Occupation Zone. In recognition of his work, he was awarded the National Prize in 1949 and 1952. He was also elected into the position of a member of the German Academy of Arts. He continued to publish works until his death at the age of 62 in 1953.[1]

Memorial plaque of Erich Weinert in Wilmersdorf, Berlin.
Memorial plaque of Erich Weinert in Wilmersdorf, Berlin.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Weinert, Erich". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  2. ^ Tremlett, Giles (2020). The International Brigades. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-4088-5398-6.
  3. ^ Thomas, Hugh (2012). The Spanish Civil War (50th Anniversary ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 678. ISBN 978-0-141-01161-5.
  4. ^ Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 178. ISBN 9781473833869.
  5. ^ Tremlett (2020), p.525
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