De Vries was born in the Frisian town of Veenwouden. His parents moved to Apeldoorn in 1920. In 1936 he joined the Communist Party of the Netherlands and a year later he moved to Amsterdam to pursue a career in journalism. He became editor of the communist newspaper De Tribune and De Vrije Katheder. After the occupation of the Netherlands by Nazi forces he was arrested and imprisoned in Kamp Amersfoort. In 1971 he left the party without renouncing marxism, which he continued to uphold until the end of his life.
He died in Amsterdam at the age of 97 after having suffered from several bouts of pneumonia.