Saturday 22 June 2019

Erich Maria Remarque (1898 – 1970) – German writer

Author of "All Quiet on the Western Front"

Eric in uniform c. 1917
Erich was born Erich Paul Remark on 22nd June 1898 in Osnabràch, Germany. He was the only son of Peter Franz Remark, a bookbinder, and his wife, Anna Maria.  Erich began writing in his teens and attended the University of Münster, where he studied to become a teacher.

Called up to military service in the German Army during WW1, Erich was posted to the Western Front in June 1917 and was wounded in the leg, arm and neck by Shrapnel. He was hospitalised in Germany for the remainder of the war.

After the war, Erich worked for a time as a primary school teacher, as well as having a variety of other jobs, including being a librarian, journalist and editor. His first novel was published in 1920 and around that time he changed his name to Erich Maria Remarque.

In 1925, Erich married the actress/dancer Jutta Ilse Ingeborg Ellen Zambona, who was of Italian-Danish origin. In 1927, drawing on his war experiences, Erich wrote his most famous work “All Quiet on the Western Front”, a novel about the First World War, which was published in 1929 and later made into a film.

Jutta and Erich were divorced in 1930 but continued to live together. They fled to Switzerland in 1933 when Erich’s literature was condemned and burnt by the Nazis and re-married to prevent Jutta being sent back to Germany. In Erich’s absence his younger sister, Elfriede, was arrested, tried and executed by the Nazis.

Erich and Jutta went to live in America and became naturalised citizens in 1947. The couple were divorced again in 1957 and Erich married the American actress Paulette Goddard in 1958. They returned to live in Switzerland where Erich died on 25th September 1970. When Paulette died in 1990, she bequeathed US$ 20 million to New York University for the creation of an Institute for European Studies in memory of Erich. Erich was buried in Ronco Cemetery, Ronco, Ticino, Switzerland and Paulette was buried alongside him.