BERLIN: German-Australian author Walter Kaufmann, who survived the Nazi persecution of Jews and later played a prominent role in the literary scene of Communist East Germany, has died at the age of 97.

Kaufmann’s death was confirmed on Friday by Dirk Szuszies, a Berlin filmmaker who made a documentary about the author’s life.

Born Jizchak Schmeidler to a young Polish Jew in Berlin in 1924, he was adopted at the age of three by a wealthy family the Kaufmanns from western Germany.

At the age of 15, with World War II imminent, he was among the last to make it onto one of the Kindertransport trains taking German-Jewish children to England. After being interned there for two years, Kaufmann was deported to Australia. His adoptive parents were killed in Auschwitz.

Kaufmann joined the Australian army during the war, later working various jobs while trying to establish himself as a writer. His first novel, “Voices in the Storm,” about a resistance group in Nazi Germany, was published in 1953.

Enamoured with Socialism, Kaufmann travelled to the Soviet Union and other countries in Eastern Europe during the 1950s before settling in Eastern Germany, where he became general secretary of the writers’ group PEN and received several awards, including the Heinrich-Mann-Prize in 1967.

Aside from his works of fiction, Kaufmann also wrote numerous travelogues and reported on the trial of American civil rights activist and Communist Party member Angela Davis, who was indicted and later acquitted of providing firearms in a 1970 attack on the Marin County courthouse.

Szuszies, the documentary-maker, said Kaufmann died peacefully in Berlin on Thursday. He is survived by his third wife, Lissy Kreuter, and two daughters from a previous marriage photographer Rebekka and actress Deborah Kaufmann.

Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

1971 in retrospect
Updated 28 Nov, 2022

1971 in retrospect

The point of no return came when the military launched Operation Searchlight in March 1971.
Gender-based violence
28 Nov, 2022

Gender-based violence

IT is a war without boundaries and seemingly without end. A UN report on femicide released on Nov 25, the...
Battle against dacoits
28 Nov, 2022

Battle against dacoits

THE Punjab police is clearly fighting a formidable, and so far losing, battle against the criminal gangs based in ...
Policy rate hike
Updated 27 Nov, 2022

Policy rate hike

The decision to hike the policy rate by 100bps is a step in the right direction, even if intended to appease the IMF.
Vawda’s reprieve
27 Nov, 2022

Vawda’s reprieve

FAISAL Vawda should be relieved. After years of running from a reckoning for submitting a false declaration in his...
Gujarat’s ghosts
27 Nov, 2022

Gujarat’s ghosts

TWO decades have passed since the bloody Gujarat riots, one of the worst spasms of anti-Muslim violence witnessed in...