Prominent translator and champion of Polish-German dialogue dies
PR dla Zagranicy
The German translator and essayist Karl Dedecius has died at his home in Frankfurt at the age of 94.
Kein anderer hat sich in den letzten Jahrzehnten so stark für die polnische Kultur eingesetzt wie Karl Dedecius. Foto: EPA/PATRICK PLEUL
As the director of the German Institute for Polish Affairs in Darmstadt in 1980-1999, he made a notable contribution to the process of reconciliation between Germany and Poland. He translated over three thousand poems by Polish writers, including Zbigniew Herbert, Wisława Szymborska and Tadeusz Różewicz, published several dozen collections of Polish poetry and wrote many articles on Polish literature and culture.
He also organised numerous conferences and exhibitions on Polish themes and invited Polish writers, translators and publishers on study tours in Germany.
Karl Dedecius was born to German parents in 1921 in the Polish city of Łodź. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he was severely wounded in the Battle of Stalingrad.
He was subsequently a prisoner-of-war in the Soviet Union. Upon his release in 1950, he first settled in East Germany. In 1952 he fled to West Germany and while working for an insurance company developed an interest in Polish culture and literature. In 1959 he published his first anthology of Polish poetry. After some years, he devoted himself exclusively to translating Polish literature and promoting German-Polish cultural contacts and exchanges.
Karl Dedecius received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state honour (2003). (mk/rg)