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Paul Celan
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Poet
    (November 2, 1920-April 20, 1970)
    Born in Cernăuți, Kingdom of Romania (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine)
    Birth name was Paul Antschel
    German-language poet and translator
    Interred in a Romanian labor camp under the Third Reich in the final years of WWII, before being liberated by the Soviet Army in February, 1944
    Works published in three major compilations, 'Sand from the Urns' (1948), 'Poppy and Memory' (1952), and 'Last Poems' (1986)
    Translated the works of over forty writers, including Frost, Moore, Dickinson, Rimbaud, Artaud, Shakespeare, and Baudelaire
    Best known for his poem 'Death Fugue' (or 'Todesfuge'), depicting life in the Nazi Death Camps
    Committed suicide, by drowning in the Seine river in Paris (April 20, 1970)
    He had a conflicted relationship with Martin Heidegger.
    He was accused of plagiarizing the work of Yvan Goll by the poet's widow.
    He nursed a long-term addiction to prescription pain killers, which he claimed were 'healing him to pieces.'
    He angered many in the Jewish community by continuing to write poetry in the German language, post-WWII.
    He had an affair with Ingeborg Bachmann but broke it off with her when her collection of poems won the Group 47 Prize over his 'Todesfuge' poem.
    He also refused to participate in any future Group 47 events, complaining that 'after the meeting, only six people remembered my name' (they were the only one who voted for him).
    His poems focused on the Nazi Death Camps but - while his time in the labor camps were certainly no picnic - he had not experienced the horrors of the 'extermination camps' (e.g. Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor).
    His untimely suicide resulted in the creation of a void enabling Auschwitz survivor, Elie Wiesel, to eclipse him as the unofficial 'literary voice of the Holocaust.'
    He witnessed Kristallnacht, as a youth, while traveling through Berlin to get to school in Paris.
    His Parisian uncle was deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered upon arrival.
    His parents were killed in a separate labor camp; his father dying of Typhus while his mother was shot to death.
    He was awarded the Bremen Literature Prize in 1958.
    He was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1960.
    He experienced survivor's guilt later in life over his parents' deaths (he had tried to convince his parents to either flee West or go into hiding prior to their deportation).
    When the communist regime rose to power in Romania, he fled to Vienna, but was eventually forced to flee there as well due to continuing anti-Semitism.
    His works have a reputation for dark themes, but he was actually versatile with genres; equally adept at romantic elegies, satirical comedy, and political odes.
    He was a polyglot proficient in at least six languages; Romanian, French, German, Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew (he also translated works from English, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, and Chinese).
    His 'Todesfuge' poem has become a national symbol of Post-WWII Germany (it was even read aloud before German Parliament on the 50th Anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1988).
    His decision to continue to write in German was his way of reclaiming his identity from the Nazis (he later said 'there is nothing in the world for which a poet will give up writing, not even when he is a Jew and the language of his poems is German').

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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