Marcel Reich-Ranicki

Marceli Reich was born in Włocławek, Poland in 1920 into a family that more or less hid its Jewishness. After his father was obliged to declare bankruptcy, Marceli was sent to live with wealthy relatives in Berlin in 1929. Here he attended the Werner-Siemens-Reformrealgymnasium, and later the Fichte-Gymnasium. As a Jew in 1938, he was not permitted to enroll as a student at the Friedrich Wilhelms University (see Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin). The Nazi authorities deported him back to Poland in late October 1938 and, in 1940, to the Warsaw Ghetto. To avoid death, he went into hiding. Out of gratitude for the liberation, he worked after the war for the Polish secret police and foreign intelligence service. He also adopted the surname Ranicki, as “Reich” struck him as too German. After moving to West Germany in 1958, he became the Federal Republic’s leading literary critic. Marcel Reich-Ranicki died in 2013.

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