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No one would talk much in society, if he knew how often he misunderstands others.

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Jul 23, 2021

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About Carl Zuckmayer

Carl Zuckmayer

Carl Zuckmayer

Carl Zuckmayer (December 27, 1896 - January 18, 1977) was a German writer and playwright.

Born in Nackenheim in Rheinhessen, he was four years old when his family moved to Mainz. With the outbreak of World War I, he (like many other high school students) finished school with a facilitated "emergency"- Abitur and volunteered for the Army. During the war he served on the western front. In 1917, he published first poems in the pacifist publication "Die Aktion".

After the war, he took up studies at the University of Frankfurt, first in humanities, later in biology and botany. In 1920, he married his childhood friend Annemarie Ganz, but they were divorced already one year later, when Zuckmayer had an affair with actress Annemarie Seidel.

His first ventures into literature and theatre were complete failures. His first drama Kreuzweg (1921) fell flat and was delisted after only three performances, and when he was chosen as dramatic adviser at the theatre of Kiel, he lost his new job after his first, controversial staging of Terence's The Eunuch . In 1924 he became dramaturg at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, jointly with Bertolt Brecht. After another failure with his second drama Pankraz erwacht oder Die Hinterwäldler he finally had a great public success with the comedy Der fröhliche Weinberg ("The Merry Vineyard") in 1925, which won him the Kleist Prize.

Also in 1925, he married the Austrian actress Alice Herdan, and they bought a house in Henndorf near Salzburg in Austria. Zuckmayer's next play Der Schinderhannes was again successful. In 1929, he wrote the script for the movie Der blaue Engel (starring Marlene Dietrich) based on the novel Professor Unrat by Heinrich Mann. That year, he was also awarded the Georg Büchner Prize, another prestigious German language literary award.

In 1931, his play Der Hauptmann von Köpenick premiered and became another success. But when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, his plays were prohibited. Zuckmayer and his family moved to their house in Austria, where he published a few more works. After the Anschluss , he was expatriated by the Nazi government, and the Zuckmayers fled via Switzerland to the United States in 1939, where he first worked as a script writer in Hollywood before buying a farm in Vermont and working as a farmer until 1946.

After World War II, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen and worked for the U.S government. He returned to Germany as a cultural attaché, participating in the post-war investigations. His play Des Teufels General ("The Devil's General"; the main character is based on the biography of Ernst Udet), which he had written in Vermont, premiered in Zürich on December 14, 1946. The play became a major success in post-war Germany; one of the first post-war literary attempts to broach the issue of Nazism. It was filmed in 1955 starring Curd Jürgens.

Zuckmayer kept writing: Barbara Blomberg premiered in Konstanz in 1949, Das kalte Licht in Hamburg in 1955. Having shuttled back and forth between the U.S. and Europe for several years, the Zuckmayers left the U.S. in 1958 and settled in Saas Fee in the Valais in Switzerland. In 1966, he became Swiss citizen, and he published his memoirs entitled Als wär's ein Stück von mir ("As if it were part of myself"). His last play Der Rattenfänger premiered in Zürich in 1975. Zuckmayer died 1977 in Visp and was interred on January 22, 1977 in Saas Fee.

Zuckmayer had been granted numerous awards, such as the Goethe Prize of the city of Frankfurt in 1952, the Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern in 1955, the Austrian Staatspreis für Literatur in 1960, Pour le Mérite in 1967, and the Austrian Verdienstkreuz am Band in 1968.

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