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Exiled German-speaking intellectuals in Southern California: Erich Maria Remarque

During the 1930s and 1940s, many German Jews and intellectuals fled Nazi Germany. This LibGuide provides information about German-speaking intellectuals who found refuge in Southern California

  Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970)

Erich-Maria Remarque's years in Southern California: 1939-1942.


In 1916, at age 18 and just out of school, Erich Maria Remarque was drafted to serve at the German front. After World War I he worked as a sports journalist. He married Jutta (Jeanne) Zambona in 1925; their marriage lasted until 1932. He became world famous almost overnight with the publication of his novel depicting the horrors of World War I, Im Westen nichts Neues (1929; All Quiet on the Western Front). His best-selling novel sold 3.5 million copies within eighteen months. His novel was made into a successful American film in 1930 directed by Lewis Milestone.

Remarque left Germany for Switzerland in 1932. His books were banned by the Nazis in 1933. In 1939 he went to the United States where he was naturalized in 1947. In March 1940 he went to Mexico City to get his immigration papers in order and to cross over the border with his estranged wife. He lived first at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and later rented a two-story house in Westwood (owned by Nils Bagge, Danish husband of singer Gitta Alpar). Before and after his years in Los Angeles, he had a stormy affair with Marlene Dietrich. After the U.S. entered the war and alien Germans were given an 8:00 pm curfew, Remarque moved into a bungalow in the park of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills on Wilshire Boulevard. When he lived at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel he began to write Arc de Triomphe (1946; Arch of Triumph). The book was a big success, selling over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. He moved to New York in 1942, living at the Sherry-Netherland on Fifth Avenue. In September 1943 returned to Los Angeles for a short time to live at Beverly Wilshire. After his return to New York, he moved in 1944 to the Ambassador Hotel on Park Avenue, living at his hotel suite that he kept from 1939 until 1953. He later rented an apartment at 320 East 57th Street which played a prominent role in his novel Shadows in Paradise.

In 1948 he returned to Europe, living at his villa in Porto Ronco near Ascona, Switzerland. He spent the next decade traveling between New York, Hollywood, and Europe. In 1958 he married again, taking the American film star, Paulette Goddard (formerly married to Charlie Chaplin), as his second wife. He continued to write several other novels, most of them dealing with victims of the political upheavals of Europe during World Wars I and II.



Ruth Marton. Mein Freund Boni: Erinnerungen an Erich Maria Remarque. Cologne: Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 1993.

C.R. Owen. Erich Maria Remarque: a Critical Bio-Bibliography. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1984.

Hans Wagener. Understanding Erich Maria Remarque. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.

Autorenlexikon deutschsprachiger Literatur des 20. Jahrhunderts. Edited by Manfred Brauneck. Reinbeck bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1991.

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Michaela Ullmann
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