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Renn, Ludwig

(569 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Renn, Ludwig (April 22, 1889, Dresden – July 21, 1979, Berlin [East]; Arnold Friedrich Vieth von Golssenau), German author. Renn was born into a Saxon noble family. His father educated the royal Saxon princes. After his abitur, Renn began the typical officer’s career path. When war first broke out Renn welcomed it, serving as lieutenant of an infantry unit. Once positional warfare had commenced, however, his duties as regimental adjutant led him to doubt the moral and military meaning of warfare. Wounded and decorated several time…

Dehmel, Richard

(464 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Dehmel, Richard (November 18, 1863, Wendisch-Hermsdorf [near Sagan] – February 8, 1920, Blankenese [now part of Hamburg]), German writer. As poet and dramatist, Dehmel was one of the most influential German-speaking writers of the turn of the century. An opponent of naturalism, and the antithesis of Stefan George and Arno Holz, he was seen by his contemporaries as the only writer capable of adequately translating Nietzsche’s philosophy of life into poetry, and, with his emphasis on human sensualit…

Lersch, Heinrich

(400 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Lersch, Heinrich (September 12, 1889, Mönchengladbach – June 18, 1936, Remagen), German writer. The son of a boilermaker, after attending Volksschule (elementary school) Lersch completed an apprenticeship in his father’s trade, before traveling as a journeyman around Germany and becoming a boilermaker himself. He volunteered to fight in 1914, and took part in the Battle of Champagne in 1914/1915. Having been buried alive and wounded, in 1916 he was discharged as medically unfit. After the war, he resumed his trade as a boilermaker but later lived from his writing. Lersch began his w…

Löns, Hermann

(418 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Löns, Hermann (August 29, 1866, Culm – September 26, 1914, Loivre near Reims [killed in action]), German writer and journalist. Löns’s importance to the literary and cultural history of the First World War lies mostly in the many attempts by others, after his death, to use and appropriate his work published before the war. While it is known that Löns enlisted as a volunteer as early as August 24, 1914, interpretations of the motives behind his action range from: patriotic enthusiasm for the war; c…

Zweig, Arnold

(588 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Zweig, Arnold (November 10, 1887, Glogau – November 26, 1968, East Berlin), German writer. The son of a Jewish saddle maker, Zweig studied German literature, art history, and modern languages, with a view to becoming a teacher, but then decided to live from his writing. After being drafted in 1915, he took part in the battles in Belgium and Serbia, and at Verdun, as an Armierungssoldat (non-combatant equipment service soldier). In 1917 Zweig became a clerk at the headquarters of the army press office at Ober-Ost Headquarters in Kovno, Lithuania. Contact with Eastern European Jew…

Remarque, Erich Maria

(831 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Remarque, Erich Maria ( June 22, 1898, Osnabrück – September 25, 1970, Locarno; born Erich Paul Remark), German writer. Remarque was born into a working-class family, and trained in Osnabrück as an elementary-school teacher; conscripted into the army in 1916, he underwent initial military training at Osnabrück and Celle. He served as a sapper on the Arras and Ypres fronts from June 1917. On July 31 at Houthulst in Flanders he was seriously wounded and spent the rest of the war in a military hospita…

Flex, Walter

(544 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Flex, Walter (July 6, 1887, Eisenach – October 16, 1917 [killed in action], Ösel, Estonia), German author. Flex was the son of a teacher. After studying and earning a doctorate (1910), he worked as a private tutor, among others, for the Bismarck family. Having volunteered for the war in 1914, he initially served in the Argonne before being trained as an officer in the vicinity of Posen (1915). He was subsequently deployed in Lithuania, but returned to the Western Front in 1917. From July 1917 onward, Flex spent a short time in Berlin revising the book The Russian Spring Offensive of 1916 ( Die ru…

Unruh, Fritz von

(528 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Unruh, Fritz von (May 10, 1885, Koblenz – November 28, 1970, Diez), German writer and politician. The son of a general, Unruh was educated at the Cadet School at Plön. After graduation he set out on the typical officer’s career path. Then in 1911 he resigned from active military service so that his play Offiziere, a critique of the traditional military principles of obedience and responsibility, could be published. His next drama, Louis Ferdinand Prinz von Preußen, handled a very different subject. Although it was banned by the Kaiser initially in 1913, the next year in…