Kurella was born in Brieg, Silesia. In 1918, he became a member of the German Communist Party, met Lenin in 1919 and became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Kurella began living in Moscow in spring 1934 and began writing for the Deutsche Zentral Zeitung in 1935. In 1937, Kurella became Soviet citizen and in 1943 was involved in the activity of the antinazi Committee for Free Germany. His brother, Heinrich Kurella, also in exile in the Soviet Union, was arrested by the NKVD during the Great Purge and was executed. In 1954, Kurella returned to East Germany and became a member of the ideological committee of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED).