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Famous Like Me > Writer > W > Franz Werfel

Profile of Franz Werfel on Famous Like Me

Name: Franz Werfel  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 10th September 1890
Place of Birth: Prague, Austria-Hungary (now the Czech Republic)
Profession: Writer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Franz Werfel, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1940
Werfel's grave in the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna.

Franz Werfel (September 10, 1890 – August 26, 1945) was a Austrian-Czech novelist, playwright, and poet who wrote in German.


Born in Prague (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), he was a contemporary and colleague of Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Martin Buber, and other Jewish intellectuals at the turn of the 20th century. He served in the Austro-Hungarian army both on the Russian front and in the press office, but was charged with treason for his vocal pacifism.

In 1929 he married Alma (Schindler) Mahler, widow of Gustav Mahler, who divorced architect Walter Gropius for him. He was already an established author, but his true claim to international fame came in 1933, when he published The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, a chilling novel which first drew world attention to the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks.

An identified Jew, Werfel fled Austria after the Anschluss in 1938 and went to France. With the German invasion and occupation of France during World War II, and the deportation of Jews to the Nazis death camps, Franz Werfel had to flee the country. With the assistance of the American journalist Varian Fry in Marseille, he and his wife escaped the Nazi regime and went to the United States.

While in France, he had made a visit to Lourdes where he found spritual solace. He vowed to write about the experience, and once in America, in 1941 he released The Song of Bernadette. While living in southern California, he wrote his final play, "Jacobowsky and the Colonel" (Jacobowsky und der Oberst).

Franz Werfel died in Los Angeles in 1945 and was interred there in the Rosendale Cemetery. However, his body was later exhumed and returned to Vienna for reburial in the Zentralfriedhof.


In English (some of these titles are out of print):

  • The Forty Days of Musa Dagh
  • The Song of Bernadette
  • The Man Who Conquered Death
  • Embezzled Heaven
  • Verdi
  • Class Reunion
  • Juarez and Maximilian - play
  • Star of the Unborn - science-fiction novel

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Franz Werfel