Walter Mehring

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Walter Mehring
Mehring in 1964 (Nationaal Archief)
Mehring in 1964 (Nationaal Archief)
Born(1896-04-29)29 April 1896
Berlin, Germany
Died(1981-10-06)6 October 1981
Zurich, Switzerland
OccupationPoet, Writer
NationalityGerman, American
PeriodWeimar Republic, Exile
Literary movementDada
SpouseMarie-Paule Tessier

Walter Mehring (29 April 1896 – 3 October 1981) was a German author and one of the most prominent satirical authors in the Weimar Republic. He was banned during the Third Reich and fled the country.

Early life[edit]

He was the son of the translator and writer Sigmar Mehring. His literary career began with the Sturm and Berliner Dada movements.

Early writings[edit]

From the 1920s, he published lyric poetry and satirical prose in various magazines and newspapers such as the famous Weltbühne or Das Tage-Buch [de]. He fought against militarism and antisemitism and considered himself an anarchist. He also wrote songs for some of the best cabarets in Berlin: Max Reinhardt's Schall und Rauch [de], Rosa Valetti's Café Größenwahn and for Trude Hesterberg's Wilde Bühne [de]. Artists like George Grosz became close friends. From 1921 to 1928, he lived and worked in Paris.


He was persecuted by the Nazis, particularly by Joseph Goebbels, and consequently fled the country. On 10 May 1933 his books were burnt during the Nazi book burnings.[1]

Mehring emigrated to Vienna, where he met the actress and writer Hertha Pauli. She was his companion during his escape from the Nazis through France. He dedicated his "Briefe zur Mitternacht" ("Midnight Letters") to her. The period spent in France he also described in No Road Back.[2] When the Nazis occupied France, he was briefly imprisoned in an internment camp. He managed to escape and, together with Hertha Pauli, he wandered around France, meeting many other people on the run from the Nazis: Franz Werfel, Alma Mahler-Werfel, Heinrich Mann, Leonhard Frank, Emil Gumbel.[3] In Marseilles they met Varian Fry (Emergency Rescue Committee), who helped them to escape.[4]


He emigrated to the United States. With the aid of the European Film Fund he got employment with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He also wrote articles for Aufbau and became a naturalized US citizen, but never really managed to settle in the United States and returned to Europe after the war.

In Europe. he was unable to replicate his earlier successes. In 1981 he died in Zurich.

Selected works[edit]

  • The Lost Library: The Autobiography of a Culture. Secker & Warburg, 1951.
  • Timoshenko: Marshal of the Red Army. A. Unger, 1942.
  • No Road Back. S. Curl, 1944.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mehring, Walter: The lost library: The autobiography of a culture. Secker & Warburg, 1951.
  2. ^ Mehring, Walter: No Road back. S. Curl, 1944.
  3. ^ Pauli, Hertha: Break of Time. Hawthorn Book, 1972.
  4. ^ Fry, Varian: Surrender on Demand. Random House, 1945.



  • Allen, Roy F.: Literary Life in German Expressionism and the Berlin Circles. UMI Research Press, 1983.
  • Thomson, Philip John: The Grotesque in German Poetry, 1880–1933. Hawthorn Press, 1975.
  • Spalek, John M./Bell, Robert F.: Exile, the Writer's Experience, University of North Carolina Press, 1982.

External links[edit]