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Renn Ludwig

Renn Ludwig (1889—1979)

Ludwig Renn (the pen name of Arnold Friedrich Vieth von Golsseneau) was born in Germany in 1889. A career officer in the German Army, he fought as a battalion in the First World War.

During the German Revolution Renn refused to fire on striking workers. After leaving the army he studied law, political economy, history of art and Russian philology in Goettingen and Munich (1920-23) before working in the art trade in Dresden.

After travelling in Europe he settled in Vienna where he studied archaeology and East Asian history (1926-27). He became increasingly interested in politics and began reading the work of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and John Reed. Converted to socialism Renn returned home and in 1928 joined the German Communist Party (KPD).

In 1928 the Frankfurter Zeitung began serializing Renn's novel War. Based on his experiences during the First World War it was published in book form in 1929. Renn also worked as co-editor of the left-wing magazine Aufbruch.

Renn published his second novel, Nachkreig, about the Spartakist Rising in 1930. As well as writing he also lectured and the Marxist worker school in Berlin. A strong opponent of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party Renn was arrested in 1932 and charged with "literary high treason".

After being released from prison in 1935 Renn moved to Switzerland. The following year he joined the International Brigades in Spain attempting to protect the Popular Front government against the right-wing forces led by General Francisco Franco. In 1937 Renn toured the United States in an attempt to raise funds for the Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War. In 1938 was director of the officer school of the People's Army in Cambrils.

Renn was interned by the French authorities after Franco's victory. Released in 1940 he moved to Mexico and was appointed professor of European history at the University of Morelia. He remained active in politics and became president of the Latin American Committee for Free Germans. Renn also wrote extensively about his experiences during the Spanish Civil War.

With the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War Renn returned to Dresden where he became professor of anthropology. In 1948 Renn was appointed chairman of the Saxonia Culture Federation. Renn also served as president of the Academy of Arts (1969-75). Ludwig Renn died in Berlin on 21st July, 1979.

DDR, 1989, Ludwig Renn


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