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 Victor Klemperer

Victor Klemperer

Birth
Lubuskie, Poland
Death 11 Feb 1960 (aged 78)
Dresden, Stadtkreis Dresden, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany
Burial Dresden, Stadtkreis Dresden, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany
Memorial ID 17302287 · View Source
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Victor Klemperer (Landsberg (Prussia), now Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland, October 9, 1881–February 11, 1960, Dresden, GDR), decorated veteran of World War I, businessman, journalist and eventually a Professor of Literature, specialising in the French Enlightenment at the Technical College of Dresden (now "Technische Universität Dresden"). He was the son of a rabbi, cousin to the famous conductor Otto Klemperer and brother to the surgeon Georg Klemperer, who was a personal physician to Lenin. A converted Protestant of Jewish descent, Klemperer's life started to worsen considerably after the Nazi rise to power in 1933.

Klemperer kept a diary, which from 1933 through the end of the war, provides a unique day-to-day account of life under tyranny and the struggle for survival among Jews in the Third Reich. This diary also brilliantly details the Nazi's perversion of the German language for propaganda purposes, which Klemperer would use as the basis for his later book LTI - Lingua Tertii Imperii.

From 1935, under the Nuremberg Laws of Citizenship and Race, Klemperer was stripped of his academic title, job, citizenship and freedom and eventually forced to work in a factory and as a day laborer. Since his wife, Eva, was "Aryan", Klemperer dodged deportation for most of the war, but was rehoused under miserable conditions in a ghetto (Judenhaus), where he was routinely questioned, mistreated and humiliated by the Gestapo.

On February 13th 1945 he assisted in delivering notices of deportation to some of the last remaining members of the Jewish community in Dresden. Fearful that he too would soon be sent to his death he used the confusion created by Allied bombings that night to remove his yellow star, join a refugee column, and escape into American-controlled territory. He and his wife survived and Klemperer's diary narrates their return (largely on foot through Bavaria and Eastern Germany) to their house on the outskirts of Dresden. They managed to reclaim the house, which had been "aryanised" under the Nazis, in Dresden-Dolzschen.

Klemperer went on to become a significant post-war cultural figure in East Germany, lecturing at the universities of Greifswald, Berlin and Halle. He became a delegate of the Cultural Union in the GDR Parliament ("Volkskammer") in 1950.

Klemperer's diary was published from 1995 as Tagebücher (Berlin, Aufbau). It was an immediate literary sensation and rapidly became a bestseller in Germany. An English translation has appeared in three volumes: I Will Bear Witness (1933 to 1941), To The Bitter End (1942 to 1945) and The Lesser Evil (1945 to 1959).


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  • Created by: Clemens Kurek
  • Added: 5 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17302287
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Victor Klemperer (9 Oct 1881–11 Feb 1960), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17302287, citing Friedhof Dölzschen, Dresden, Stadtkreis Dresden, Saxony (Sachsen), Germany ; Maintained by Clemens Kurek (contributor 46532474) .