Hermann Ungar

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Hermann Ungar (before 1926)

Hermann Ungar (April 20, 1893 in Boskovice – October 28, 1929 in Prague) was a Czech-Jewish[1][2] writer (in the German language) and an officer in Czechoslovakia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


His father, Emil, was a cider maker who served as Mayor of Boskovice. After graduating from the public schools in Brno, he went to Berlin, where he took courses in Oriental Studies until 1911, followed by legal and philosophical studies in Munich and Prague. After service in World War I, where he sustained serious injuries on the Galician Front, he passed the state examination and received his degree in 1918.

At first, he worked as a lawyer and director of the theater in Cheb, where he also wrote plays. In 1922, he became the Legationsrat [de] (Legation Counselor) at the new Czechoslovak embassy in Berlin. Later he returned to Prague and became the Ministerial Commissioner at the Foreign Affairs ministry. While there, he began to associate with a literary circle that included Franz Kafka, Max Brod and Ernst Weiß.

His writing was becoming successful, so he quit the diplomatic service in 1929, but died not long after, aged only thirty-six, during an appendectomy that had been postponed for too long. His brother and parents were put to death at Auschwitz in 1942, but his sister was able to escape and went to Tel-Aviv.

His novels were influenced by expressionism and psychoanalysis and was praised by Thomas Mann, who became a godfather to Ungar's son Tom (born Thomas Michael Ungar).[3] According to a 2012 obituary of Tom (who had changed his name to Unwin), his father "wrote about sex and psychosis in a manner that shocked the establishment".[4]


  • Boys and Murderers (1920)
  • The Maimed (1923, novel)
  • The Murder of Captain Hanika (1925, non-fiction)
  • The Class (1927, novel)
  • The Red General (1928, play)
  • The Arbor (1930, play)
  • Colbert's Journey (1930, short stories)


  1. ^ Mike Mitchell (intro.) in Hermann Ungar, The class, Dedalus (2004), p. 5
  2. ^ Ctibor Rybár, Jewish Prague: Gloses on history and Kultur--a guidebook, TV Spektrum in cooperation with Akropolis Publishers (1991), p. 214
  3. ^ Obituary of Tom Unwin, The Telegraph, 19 July 2012.
  4. ^ Vicky Unwin, "Tom Unwin obituary", The Guardian, 7 June 2012.

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