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Marcel Reich-Ranicki, German-Jewish author and critic, dies

(JTA) — Marcel Reich-Ranicki, a German-Jewish author and literary critic sometimes referred to in Germany as the “pope of literature,” has died.

The death of Reich-Ranicki, a Holocaust survivor and a spokesman for reconciliation between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans, was announced on Sept. 18. He was 93.

Reich-Ranicki was “a piece of German-Jewish history, ” Charlotte Knobloch, former head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and head of the Jewish community of Bavaria and Munich, said in a statement.

“The fact that this son of a Jewish German-Polish family, who lost his parents and relatives in the Nazi death camps, found a home in Germany again and gave our country so much is one of the postwar occurrences we can only be grateful for.”

Living in the Warsaw Ghetto under Nazi occupation, Reich-Ranicki became a translator and writer for the ghetto’s Jewish council and newspaper. He also wrote reviews of concerts under a pseudonym. He and his wife escaped in 1943, a year after marrying, surviving in hiding for 16 months with friends.

In 1950, Reich-Ranicki served time in solitary confinement in a Polish prison for so-called “ideological alienation.” In 1958, after working several years as an editor for German literature and also publishing his own writing, Reich-Ranicki and his wife immigrated to West Germany with their son, Andrew.

In Germany, Reich-Ranicki launched what would become a long and influential career as writer and literary critic, starting with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, where he eventually headed the literature department.

Revered and feared as a critic, he became famous for his TV roundtable with authors and critics, “The Literary Quartet,” which aired from 1988 to 2001.

Though he was battling cancer, he continued to write regularly until this year for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

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