German writer, born in Leipzig in 1900 and died in Berlin in 1979. It was the twelfth son of a family of workers. In 1927 he/she joined the German Communist Party (KPD) and from 1930 to 1933 was a member of the Association of proletarian writers and revolutionaries (Bund Proletarisch-Revolutionarer Schriftsteller). In 1933 he/she was arrested by the nazis and spent more than 11 years in various concentration camps, among others at Buchenwald from 1937 to 1945. After the war working in the Democratic Republic as a dramatist of DEFA (Deutsche Film AG) and from 1955 devoted himself exclusively to literature.
His masterpiece, Nackt unter Wölfen (naked among wolves, 1958), is based on his experiences in Buchenwald. The plot (some prisoners hide a Jewish child during the last weeks of the war) merges with a secondary plan of action: some comrades of the illegal camp Committee are involved in this attempt to rescue the child. In this conflict between feelings and discipline are being emphasized solidarity and humanitarian feelings of the prisoners. The novel was an international success (translated into more than 30 languages and made into a film by the DEFA). In the Democratic Republic became the most widely read book on the Nazi concentration camps along with Das siebte Kreuz (the seventh cross) of Anna Seghers.
Other works such as Esther (1959), written in the concentration camp in 1944, or Der Regenbogen (1976), had little resonance outside the Democratic Republic.