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Oskar Maria Graf
German author

Oskar Maria Graf

Oskar Maria Graf
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German author
Was Writer Poet Journalist Novelist Publisher
From Germany Statelessness United States of America
Field Business Journalism Literature
Gender male
Birth 22 July 1894, Berg
Death 28 June 1967, New York City (aged 72 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Oskar Maria Graf (22 July 1894 – 28 June 1967) was a German author.
He wrote several socialist-anarchist novels and narratives about life in Bavaria, mostly autobiographical.
In the beginning Graf wrote under his real name Oskar Graf. After 1918, his works for newspapers were signed with the pseudonym Oskar Graf-Berg; for works he regarded as "worth reading", he used the name Oskar Maria Graf.


Graf was born in Berg in the Kingdom of Bavaria, situated in the picturesque landscape around Lake Starnberg near Munich. He was the ninth child of the baker Max Graf and his wife Therese (née Heimrath), a farmer's daughter. From 1900 on he went to the state school in Aufkirchen, in the municipality of Berg. After his father died in 1906, he learned the baker's trade and worked for his brother Max, who had taken over their father's bakery.

In 1911, hoping to earn a living as a poet, he fled to Munich to escape his brother's violence. He joined Bohemian circles and took odd jobs, working at times as a mail sorter or a lift operator. In 1912 and 1913, he traveled to Ticino and northern Italy.

On 1 December 1914, he was drafted for military service. A year later, in 1915, he published his first story, in the magazine Die Freie Straße ["Free street"]. In 1916, Graf was nearly court-martialed for refusing a command. However, after a ten-day hunger strike, he was sent instead to a psychiatric hospital and later discharged from the military.

On 26 May 1917, Graf married Karoline Bretting. A year later, their daughter Annemarie (13 June 1918 – 2008), called Annamirl, was born. In the beginning of the same year, Graf was arrested for participating in a munitions workers' strike. He also met the woman who later became his second wife, Mirjam Sachs, the sister of Manfred George and a cousin of Nelly Sachs. In 1919, Graf was arrested again for participating in revolutionary movements in Munich.

In 1920, he was active as a dramaturg at the working-class theater Die neue Bühne ("The new stage"), until he achieved literary fame in 1927 with his memoir Wir sind Gefangene (Prisoners All), which allowed him to live as a freelance writer.

On 17 February 1933, he traveled to Vienna to lecture, a trip which began his voluntary exile. Graf's books were not destroyed during the Nazi book burning then taking place; instead, most of them approved by the Nazis as recommended reading. In response, Graf published his famous appeal, Verbrennt mich! ["Burn me!"] in the Vienna Arbeiterzeitung.

In 1934 Graf's books were in fact prohibited in Germany. On 16 February, he emigrated to Brno in Czechoslovakia. On 24 March, the Third Reich revoked Graf's citizenship. He left Brno to take part in the First Congress of Socialist Writers in Moscow.

In 1938, Graf left Europe via the Netherlands, arriving in New York City in July. Mirjam Sachs followed him, but his wife and child remained in Germany. In October 1938, he was appointed president of the German American Writers Association. In 1942, together with Wieland Herzfelde and other emigrant German writers, he founded the German-language publishing house Aurora-Verlag in New York, considered the successor to Malik-Verlag. Graf's first wife agreed to a divorce in 1944, which allowed Graf and Sachs to marry.

In 1958, Graf received American citizenship, and he visited Europe for the first time since World War II.

In 1960, "in recognition of his uncompromising intellectual attitude," he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1962, he was honored by the City of Munich "in appreciation of his important literary works".

Graf died in 1967 in New York. A year after his death, his ashes were interred in the old Bogenhausen cemetery in Munich.


In German:

  • Die Revolutionäre (1918), Gedichte
  • Amen und Anfang (1919), Gedichte
  • Frühzeit (1920), Jugenderlebnisse
  • Ua-Pua (1921), Indianerdichtungen
  • Zur freundlichen Erinnerung (1922), soziale Novellen
  • Bayrisches Lesebücherl (1924), Kulturbilder
  • Die Traumdeuter (1924), Erzählungen
  • Die Chronik von Flechting (1925), Roman
  • Finsternis (1926), sechs Dorfgeschichten
  • Wunderbare Menschen (1927), Chronik und Autobiographie
  • Wir sind Gefangene (1927), Autobiographisches ISBN 3-423-01612-4
  • Licht und Schatten (1927), soziale Märchen
  • Bayrisches Dekameron (1928), Erzählungen ISBN 3-548-60345-9
  • Die Heimsuchung (1925), Roman
  • Im Winkel des Lebens (1927), Erzählungen
  • Kalendergeschichten (1929) Geschichten aus Stadt und Land ISBN 3-423-11434-7
  • Notizbuch des Provinzschriftstellers Oskar Maria Graf (1932), Satire ISBN 3-935877-49-8
  • Bolwieser (1931), Roman; Neuausgabe 1964 unter dem Titel Die Ehe des Herrn Bolwieser ISBN 3-442-72253-5
  • Einer gegen alle (1932), Roman
  • Dorfbanditen (1932), Jugenderinnerungen
  • Der harte Handel (1935), Bauernroman ISBN 3-423-11480-0
  • Der Abgrund (1936), Roman (überarbeiteten Fassung "Die gezählten Jahre"(1976)
  • Anton Sittinger (originally Sittinger bleibt obenauf) (1937), Roman ISBN 3-423-12453-9
  • Der Quasterl (1938), Dorf- und Jugendgeschichten
  • Das Leben meiner Mutter (1940 in englischer Sprache, 1946 in deutscher Fassung) ISBN 3-423-10044-3
  • Unruhe um einen Friedfertigen (1947), Roman, New York, Aurora-Verlag ISBN 3-471-77264-2
  • Mitmenschen (1948), Erzählungen
  • Die Eroberung der Welt (1949), Roman; Neuauflage 1959 unter dem Titel Die Erben des Untergangs ISBN 3-423-11880-6
  • Menschen aus meiner Jugend auf dem Dorfe (1953), Erzählungen
  • Der ewige Kalender (1954), Gedichte
  • Die Flucht ins Mittelmäßige (1959), Roman
  • An manchen Tagen. Reden, Gedanken und Zeitbetrachtungen (1961)
  • Der große Bauernspiegel (1962), Erzählungen
  • Größtenteils schimpflich (1962), Jugenderinnerungen
  • Altmodische Gedichte eines Dutzendmenschen (1962)
  • Er nannte sich Banscho (1964), Roman
  • Gelächter von außen. Aus meinem Leben 1918–1933 (1966)
  • Reise in die Sowjetunion 1934 (1974)
  • The Dupe's Words (1976), Kinderbuch

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