Erich Fried, a writer without a country
Erich Fried, ultimately a prominent German poet, had been forced to flee from his native country after the annexation of Austria in 1938, and remained in London throughout his life. In wartime London he published in German exile journals. By 1945 two volumes of his poetry had appeared. This success augured well for the future. Yet the post-war period did not bring the publications he had hoped for. Fried remained in London. He nevertheless attempted to secure publications in Germany, but his endeavours were made more difficult by his prolonged exile. In London Fried maintained contact with other German exile writers and made no attempt at assimilation. He remained orientated towards German-speaking Europe. His work of this period was out of step with developments in Germany and this explains the poor response to his first publications there. Employment with the BBC led to his very successful translation of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. This earned him a reputation as a translator and led to two poetry volumes and a novel. Fried was subsequently invited to join the influential Gruppe 47. The publication in 1966 of und Vietnam und secured Fried's reputation as a political poet and marked the return in his work to political themes which he had abandoned in 1945. Subsequently Fried was extremely productive and published may volumes of poetry and prose and a variety of translations from English, including his much admired Shakespeare translations. Fried overcame the disadvantageous situation of his prolonged exile. In the later period he spent much time in German-speaking Europe, returning to Britain to recuperate and write. Fried had been made homeless in 1938 and never regained his Heimat, although it would appear that he welcomed the absence of the confines of a narrowly defined nationality and home.