Unruh, Fritz ˜vonœ 1885-1970

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1885-05-10
Death 1970-11-28
Americans
German, English

Biographical notes:

Friederike von Unruh (née Schaffer) was an actress and Fritz's wife; they married in 1940. Fritz and Friederike left Germany together in 1932, lived for a time in Italy and in France, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1940, where they lived in New York City. They lived in Germany again from 1952 to 1955 and then returned to the U.S. Alma Mahler mentions Unruh several times in her memoir Mein Leben. While he was serving in the military in World War I, she wrote to him in praise of his play Ein Geschlecht, and he responded with a poem (included here). They came into contact again in 1919, and from that point on Unruh had exchanges with Werfel as well. Wolff writes from Pantheon Books in New York City. Bitsch was the president of the Fritz von Unruh-Gesellschaft, which was apparently founded in 1955 in Giessen (West Germany).

From the description of Correspondence with Alma Mahler and Franz Werfel, 1914-1959. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155864683

Fritz von Unruh (1885-1970) was a German army officer and later anti-war expressionist playwright, poet and novelist.

Unruh was born in Koblenz on 10 May 1885 to an aristocratic German family, the son of a general who was a lifelong friend of General Hindenburg. After attending military school at Plon in Schleswig-Holstein, he became a professional soldier in the cavalry and during World War I was an officer, but he later became one of Germany's leading voices of anti-militarism between the world wars.

First in the play Offiziere (1912) and then in works including Der Opfergang (1916) and The Way of Sacrifice (1919, written near Verdun), he questioned the old values of patriotic honor. His confinement in an asylum before the end of the war may have saved him from a battlefield death. His antimilitarist views were further elaborated in the plays Ein Geschlect (1918) and Platz (1920).

During the 1920s he played a wider role in German public affairs. Active in politics, he was a co-founder of the Republican Party, which he represented in the Reichstag, but as Hitler rose to power his position in Germany became less secure. He emigrated to France, where he contributed to the anti-Nazi press, then to the United States in 1940 where he settled in New York. He wrote at least one novel in English during this period ( The End is Not Yet, 1947). In 1957 he published an autobiography, Der Sohn des Generals (The Son of the General), and shortly thereafter he and his wife moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey (1960). Two years later he lost his manuscripts, artwork and personal belongings in a coastal storm and the looting that followed.

Fritz von Unruh died in Diez, Germany on 28 Nov 1970 at the age of 85.

From the guide to the Fritz von Unruh Papers, 1922-1964, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

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Subjects:

  • German literature--20th century
  • Poets, German
  • Novelists, German
  • Dramatists, German

Occupations:

  • Dramatists
  • Novelists
  • Poets

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