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Old wooden type on a wooden shelf

Ernst Wiechert

Ernst Weichert
  • German educator, poet, and writer
  • Nazi dissenter
  • Buchenwald survivor
One of the most widely read German literary figures of the 1930s and 1940s, Ernst Emil Wiechert (1887–1950) gained notoriety when one of his speeches criticizing the Third Reich was smuggled out of the country baked in a loaf of bread and then published internationally. When he dared to publicly support anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, Wiechert was thrown into Buchenwald concentration camp for four months. His book The Forest of the Dead is based on his experiences there. Tidings, Wiechert’s final novel and most significant book about the post-war years, was first published as Missa sine nomine (“Mass Without a Name”) shortly after his death in 1950. This book deals with post-war Germany’s guilt, healing, and redemption in the aftermath of the Holocaust – how the survivors, both victims and perpetrators, seek healing and redemption as they pick up the shattered pieces of their world. Evoking comparisons to the Russian greats Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, Wiechert displays an uncommon depth of insight into the human condition at its most degenerate and its ennobling best – an understanding born of his own suffering and quest for rebirth. His novels are peopled with rich and complex characters and charged with both passion and spiritual hunger.