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Weinert was born in 1890 in Magdeburg to a family with Social Democratic beliefs. He attended a boys-only school in Magdeburg and from 1908 to 1910 visited the arts, crafts and trade school in the city, then going to an art school in Berlin in 1912. He later joined the military, where he participated as an officer during World War I. It was during this time as a soldier that he was attracted to the revolutionary ideology. After the war, he went to Leipzig and worked as an actor and lecture artist, joining the KPD in 1929. During this time, he made various works.
Weinert started writing in 1921. From the very beginning his poems were thoroughly anti-imperialistic. In the second half of the 1920s, Weinert's work leaned towards portraying the struggles of the German proletariat. In 1929, he joined the Communist Party of Germany. Weinert's works were always political, and the role of political poet, agitator, and satirist he gradually assumed are best seen in his collections Theater of the Apes (1925) and Erich Weinert Speaks (1930).
Exile and the Fight Against Fascism
Following the fascist coup d’etat, Weinert fled to Switzerland. From 1933 to 1935 Weinert, with his wife and daughter, Marianne Lange-Weinert, went into exile in the Saar protectorate. From there he then went to Paris, France so he would be able to arrive in the Soviet Union. Working from the USSR, he published an anthology of anti-fascist poems in 1934, entitled 'The Cobblestones and The Day Will Come'. He became a member of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War from 1937 to 1939, where he was active as front correspondent. He turned his experience on the Spanish front into poems, which were published in the book Camaradas (1951).
After Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Weinert sided with the Soviets and began creating propaganda to encourage soldiers in the Wehrmacht to abandon their positions using methods such as poems printed on handbills that were thrown off behind the German lines as well as making pleas to them via the radio. In 1943 he was selected as the president of the National Committee for a Free Germany. Once again the time spent on the front lines found literary expression. Weinert published his war diary under the title 'Remember Stalingrad' in 1943. Two short stories – 'Death for the Fatherland' and 'Expediency' – came out in 1942. A collection of leaflet poems written during the war came out in 1944 as 'Against the Real Enemy'. In 1947, he also published 'Chapter Two of World History: Poems About the Land of Socialism', an anthology of poems about the Soviet Union.
Return to Germany
In 1946 he returned to Germany in a sickly state. Regardless, he served actively as vice-president of the Central Administration for National Education in the Soviet Occupation Zone. In recognition of his work, he was awarded the National Prize in 1949 and 1952. He was also elected into the position of a member of the German Academy of Arts. He continued to publish works until his death at the age of 62 in 1953.