Karl Dedecius, German translator of Polish and Russian literature, Died at 94


Karl Dedecius was born on May 20, 1921 in Łódź and died on Febreuary 27, 2016.

He was a Polish-born German translator of Polish and Russian literature.

He attended the Polish Stefan-Żeromski High School, where he received his high-school degree (Matura).

Following the German invasion of Poland in the Second World War, Karl was first drafted into the Reich Labor Service (Reichsarbeitsdienst) and then into the German Army.

Karl was harshly wounded in the Battle of Stalingrad and where he became a prisoner of war.

Whilst he was at the prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, he taught himself Russian.

Dedecius had written, I lay in my sick-bed, and the nurses brought me books by Lermontov, for instance – For one year, I learned the Cyrillic Alphabet and Russian by reading Lermontov and Pushkin, Eventually, the guards asked me to write love-letters for them, because I wrote like Pushkin“; Karl Dedecius in conversation with journalist Alina Perth-Grabowska, in 1995.

In 1950, he was freed.

Karl settled at first with his fiancé in Weimar, in East Germany.

Karl relocated to West Germany and became an employee of the Allianz AG insurance company, in 1952.

In 1959, Karl Dedecius published his first anthology, Lektion der Stille (Lesson of Silence).

Over the years, Karl Dedecius has translated, so to speak in his free time, such well-known Polish writers as Zbigniew Herbert, Stanisław Jerzy Lec, Czesław Miłosz, Tadeusz Różewicz and Wisława Szymborska.

Karl Dedecius also published essays on literature and translating technique.

During 1967, Karl was given the Johann-Heinrich-Voß-Preis für Übersetzung award and in 1990, Karl received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade,

Karl Dedecius passed away at 94 yrs old.