18 April, 2017

Alfred Schirokauer

Alfred Schirokauer was a German novelist and screenwriter. He directed three films during the silent era. Many films were based on his novels including several adaptations of Lucrezia Borgia. After the rise of the Nazi Party to power in 1933 the Jewish Schirokauer emigrated to Amsterdam and then to Austria where he died the following year.

Dag Hammarskjold

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author, who served as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. At the age of 47 years upon his appointment, Hammarskjöld was the youngest to have held the post. Additionally, he is one of only four people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Prize and was the only United Nations Secretary-General to die while in office. He was killed in a Douglas DC-6 airplane crash en route to cease-fire negotiations. 

Wolfgang Hildesheimer

Wolfgang Hildesheimer was a German author who incorporated the Theatre of the Absurd. He originally trained as an artist, before turning to writing.

Hildesheimer was born of Jewish parents in Hamburg. His grandfather was Azriel Hildesheimer, the modernizer of Orthodox Judaism in Germany. He was educated at Humanistische Gymnasium in Mannheim from 1926 to 1930. He then attended Odenwaldschule until 1933, when he left Germany. He was then educated at Frensham Heights School in Surrey, England. He studied carpentry in Mandatory Palestine, where his parents had emigrated, and underwent psychoanalysis in Jerusalem.

He studied painting and stage building in London. In 1946, he worked as a translator and clerk at the Nuremberg trials. Afterward, he worked as a writer and was a member of Group 47. In 1980, he gave the inaugural address at the Salzburg Festival (Was sagt Musik aus? — What does music say?). In addition to writing, Hildesheimer created collages which he collected in several volumes (the first Endlich allein, 1984), an activity he shared with other late 20th century writers Peter Weiss and Ror Wolf. The municipality of Poschiavo in Switzerland made Hildesheimer an honorary citizen in 1982; he died there in 1991.

Thomas Theodor Heine

Thomas Theodor Heine, was a German painter, draftsman and writer. He was the closest collaborator of the publisher Albert Langen for the magazine Simplicissimus.

Born David Theodor Heine on 28 February 1867 in Leipzig.  Heine was recruited as a draftsman by Albert Langen in April 1896 for the first issue of Simplicissimus. Both had met in Munich, where Heine, having graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, exercised his talent as a rather gifted draftsman. Becoming a rather fierce caricaturist, his style was influenced by Japanese and French art nouveau. In 1898, he served six months in prison for a design deemed unacceptable by the German Imperial Government. He was a close friend of the Italian cartoonist Gabriele Gal Antara.

He is the designer in 1910 of the "bulldog breaking his chain", a motif that will serve to promote the spirit of the magazine for several years. Heine also illustrates many works.

At the end of the First World War, Théodore Heine painted a caricature, "Versailles" (June 1919), which refers to the Treaty of Versailles signed June 28, 1919, and which causes a scandal.

In 1933, when the Nazis came to power, Heine chose to leave Germany, first for Prague, then for Oslo, and finally settled in Stockholm, because of his origins and the threats he was under. In 1942, he published his autobiography, ironically entitled Ich warte auf Wunder (I Wait a Miracle).

Thomas Theodor Heine died on 26 January 1948 in Stockholm.

Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Friedrich Dürrenmatt was a Swiss author and dramatist. He was a proponent of epic theatre whose plays reflected the experiences of World War II. His works included avant-garde dramas, philosophical crime novels, and macabre satire.

Dürrenmatt was born in Konolfingen, the son of a Protestant pastor. His grandfather, Ulrich Dürrenmatt, was a conservative politician. The family moved to Bern in 1935. Dürrenmatt began studies in philosophy, German language and literature at the University of Zurich in 1941, but moved to the University of Bern after one semester where he also studied natural science. In 1943, he decided to become an author and dramatist and dropped his academic career. In 1945–46, he wrote his first play It is Written. On 11 October 1946, he married the actress Lotti Geissler. She died on 16 January 1983. Dürrenmatt married another actress, Charlotte Kerr, in 1984.

Dürrenmatt also enjoyed painting. Some of his own works and his drawings were exhibited in Neuchâtel in 1976 and 1985, as well as in Zurich in 1978.
Dürrenmatt explored the dramatic possibilities of epic theatre, he had been called its "most original theorist".

When he was 26, his first play, It Is Written, premiered to great controversy. The story of the play revolves around a battle between a sensation-craving cynic and a religious fanatic who takes scripture literally, all of this taking place while the city they live in is under siege. The play's opening night in April 1947, caused fights and protests in the audience. Between 1948 and 1949, Dürrenmatt wrote several segments and sketches for the anti-Nazi Cabaret Cornichon in Zurich; among these, the single-act grotesque short play Der Gerettete (The rescued).

His first major success was the play Romulus the Great. Set in the year A.D. 476, the play explores the last days of the Roman Empire, presided over, and brought about by its last emperor, Romulus. The Visit (Der Besuch der alten Dame, 1956) is a grotesque fusion of comedy and tragedy about a wealthy woman who offers the people of her hometown a fortune if they will execute the man who jilted her years earlier. The satirical drama The Physicists (Die Physiker, 1962), which deals with issues concerning science and its responsibility for dramatic and dangerous changes to the world, has also been presented in translation.

Radio plays published in English include Hercules in the Augean Stables (Herkules und der Stall des Augias, 1954), Incident at Twilight (Abendstunde im Spätherbst, 1952) and The Mission of the Vega (Das Unternehmen der Wega, 1954). The two late works "Labyrinth" and "Turmbau zu Babel" are a collection of unfinished ideas, stories, and philosophical thoughts.

Dürrenmatt died from heart failure on 14 December 1990 in Neuchâtel.