Zuckmayer, Carl

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ZUCKMAYER, CARL (1896–1977), German playwright. Though born of a Jewish mother, Zuckmayer was raised as a Catholic in the Rhineland town of Nackenheim. During World War i he served as an officer on the Western Front and from 1919 worked in the theater and as a freelance writer. In 1924 he joined Bertolt Brecht at Berlin's Deutsches Theater, working for a short time under Max *Reinhardt. Zuckmayer's first success was the prizewinning comedy Der froehliche Weinberg (1925), which established the new "matter-of-fact" trend. His reputation was enhanced by the many dramas that followed, notably Schinderhannes (1927); Katharina Knie (1929); Der Hauptmann von Koepenick (1930; The Captain of Koepenick, 1932), a powerful satirical attack on Prussian militarism and bureaucracy; and Der Schelm von Bergen (1934). Zuckmayer also wrote the screenplay for Der blaue Engel ("The Blue Angel", 1930), which was based on Heinrich Mann's novel Professor Unrat (1905). Like many other leading anti-Nazi writers, Zuckmayer found his life and career endangered after Hitler came to power and he fled to Switzerland in 1938, emigrating to the U.S. in the following year. From Hollywood he moved to New York, and then spent the war years farming and writing in Vermont. In 1947 he became a cultural adviser to the U.S. Army in Germany and Austria, finally settling in Switzerland in 1958. After World War ii he produced an international success with Des Teufels General (1946; The Devil's General, 1950), the tragic story of an anti-Nazi air force chief. Zuckmayer was much preoccupied with the fate of German Jewry, Jewish characters appearing in several of his dramas, including Der Hauptmann von Koepenick, Des Teufels General, Der Gesang im Feuerofen (1950), and Das kalte Licht (1955).

His verse collections include Der Baum (1926) and Gedichte (1960); his novels Salwàre oder Die Magdalena von Bozen (1936; The Moons Ride Over, 1937) and Herr ueber Leben und Tod (1938). Zuckmayer also wrote novellas and short stories, such as Ein Sommer in Oesterreich (1937); and two volumes of autobiography, Second Wind (1940) and Als waer's ein Stueck von mir (1966; A Part of Myself, 1970). Four volumes of his collected works appeared in 1960.


Fuelle der Zeit. Carl Zuckmayer und sein Werk (1956), incl. bibl.; I. Engelsing-Malek, "Amor Fati" in Zuckmayers Dramen (University of California, Publications in Modern Philology, 61 (1960), incl. bibl.); L.E. Reindl, Zuckmayer. Eine Bildbiographie (1962).

[Godfrey Edmond Silverman]