Guide to the Christel and Piltti Heiskanen collection of Carl Zuckmayer, circa 1950 - 2001Manuscript MS-1217

Biography

Carl Zuckmayer was born on Dec. 27, 1896. He volunteered during World War I after which he began his studies at universities in Frankfurt and Heidelberg. In 1924, he became a dramaturge with Berthold Brecht at the "Deutsche Theater" in Berlin. His first success came with the play "Der froehliche Weinberg" [The Merry Vineyard] in 1925. "Schindehannes," "Katharina Knie," and the screenplay for "The Blue Angel" with Marlene Dietrich followed in 1928. His biggest success came in 1930, with the satirical play "Der Hauptman von Koepenick." Zuckmayer left Nazi Germany in 1933, after his plays were no longer allowed to be performed. He moved to Austria, but after the annexation and the seizure of his house he fled, via Switzerland and Cuba, to the United States, where he worked in Hollywood for a while before settling on a farm in Barnard, Vermont.

In 1943-44 he wrote "character portraits" of actors, writers and other artists in Germany for the Office of Strategic Services, evaluating their involvement with the Nazi regime. In January 1946, after World War II, Zuckmayer was granted US citizenship and returned to Germany where he traveled the country for five months as a US cultural attache;. The resulting report to the War Department was first published in Germany in 2004 ("Deutschlandbericht"). His play "Des Teufels General" ["The Devil's General"] which he had written in Vermont, premiered in Zurich on December 14, 1946. The play became a success in post-war Germany; one of the first post-war literary attempts to broach the issue of Nazism.

Zuckmayer continued to write successful plays but after having shuttled back and forth between the U.S. and Europe for several years, the Zuckmayers left the U.S. in 1958, and settled in Saas Fee in the Valais in Switzerland. In 1966, he became a Swiss citizen, and he published his memoirs entitled "Als war's ein Stuck von mir" ["A part of myself"]. Zuckmayer died on January 18, 1977.

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