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"MRR": His Life

Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Hamburg 1960

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Media library
  • Marcel Reich with his mother, brother and sister, Włocławek 1928 - From left: Gerda (MRR's sister), Olek (brother), Helene (mother) and Marcel Reich, Włocławek 1928
  • Parents of Marcel Reich - Parents of Marcel Reich: David (1880-1942) und Helene Reich (1884-1942)
  • Parents of Teofila Ranicki (née Langnas) - Parents of Teofila Ranicki (née Langnas): Pawel (1885-1940) and Emilia Langnas (1886-1942)
  • Interview with Gerhard Gnauck in SWR radio (German) - Interview with Gerhard Gnauck, German journalist and historian and author of the book "Wolke und Weide. Marcel Reich-Ranickis polnische Jahre".

    Interview with Gerhard Gnauck in SWR radio (German)

    Interview with Gerhard Gnauck, German journalist and historian and author of the book "Wolke und Weide. Marcel Reich-Ranickis polnische Jahre".
  • Interview with Gerhard Gnauck in memory of Marcel Reich-Ranicki (German) - Interview with Gerhard Gnauck on the life and legacy of the deceased Marcel Reich-Ranicki.

    Interview with Gerhard Gnauck in memory of Marcel Reich-Ranicki (German)

    Interview with Gerhard Gnauck on the life and legacy of the deceased Marcel Reich-Ranicki.
  • Cinema "Femina" - In the time of the ghetto, a concert hall with 900 seats was in the building under the same name, in which Marceli Reich wrote his first reviews.
  • Marcel and Teofila Reich-Ranicki, Warsaw Ghetto, 1940 - Marcel and Teofila Reich-Ranicki, Warsaw Ghetto, 1940
  • Teofila Reich-Ranicki, Łódź 1947 - Teofila Reich-Ranicki, Łódź 1947
  • Marcel and Teofila Reich-Ranicki with their son Andrew, London 1949 - Marcel and Teofila Reich-Ranicki with their son Andrew, London 1949
  • Teofila, Andrew and Marcel Reich-Ranicki, 1957 - Teofila, Andrew and Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Warsaw 1957
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Hamburg 1960 - Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Hamburg 1960
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki, 1965 - Marcel Reich-Ranicki, 1965
  • In Gedenken an Marcel Reich-Ranicki im Radio "Trójka" (polnisch) - Beitrag von Gerhard Gnauk in Gedenken an Marcel Reich-Ranicki im Radio "Trójka" (polnisch).

    In Gedenken an Marcel Reich-Ranicki im Radio "Trójka" (polnisch)

    Beitrag von Gerhard Gnauk in Gedenken an Marcel Reich-Ranicki im Radio "Trójka" (polnisch).
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki in the "Literarischen Quartet"  - Marcel Reich-Ranicki in the "Literarischen Quartet" in the ZDF studio
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki in the ZDF studio - Marcel Reich-Ranicki in the ZDF studio Programme title: Aus gegebenem Anlass - Marcel Reich-Ranicki talks to Thomas Gottschalk
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki, "the Pope of German Literature". - Marcel Reich-Ranicki, "the Pope of German Literature".
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki - Radio play by "COSMO Radio po polsku" in English - In cooperation with "COSMO Radio po polsku" we present radio plays on selected topics of our portal.

    Marcel Reich-Ranicki - Radio play by "COSMO Radio po polsku" in English

    In cooperation with "COSMO Radio po polsku" we present radio plays on selected topics of our portal.
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska 1997 - Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska für Polski Magazyn Radiowy 1997

    Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska 1997

    Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska für Polski Magazyn Radiowy 1997
  • Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska 2000 - Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska für Polski Magazyn Radiowy 2000

    Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska 2000

    Marcel Reich-Ranicki auf Polnisch! Interview mit Joanna Skibińska für Polski Magazyn Radiowy 2000
  • Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki - Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki
  • MRR with his son and his daughter-in-law - From left: Ida Thompson (daughter-in-law), MRR and Andrew Ranicki (son) at the official reception of the Federal President in the Bellevue Palace on the occasion of the last "Literary Quartet", Berlin 14.12.2001
  • MRR and the moderator Thomas Gottschalk at the presentation of the German Television Award in 2008 - MRR and the moderator Thomas Gottschalk at the presentation of the German Television Award in 2008
  • Grave of Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki - Grave of Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki on the main Frankfurt cemetery.
  • Grave of Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki - Grave of Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki on the main Frankfurt cemetery.
  • Grave of Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki  - Grave of Teofila and Marcel Reich-Ranicki on the main Frankfurt cemetery.
  •  Berliner Gedenktafel (memorial plaque) for Marcel Reich-Ranicki -  Berliner Gedenktafel (memorial plaque) for Marcel Reich-Ranicki
  • Graffiti an einer Buchhandlung in Menden im Sauerland - Graffiti an einer Buchhandlung in Menden im Sauerland, 2009
Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Hamburg 1960
Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Hamburg 1960

To begin with, a few sentences about Marcel Reich-Ranicki.

“MRR was/is the most influential literary critic of our time, even more important than Bernard Pivot in France.”

“MRR has made himself a reputation as a television star, comic hero and advertising promoter.”

“MRR is an icon of the arts pages.” (The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel)

 

When I decided to write a book about him a few other sentences came to my ears:

“You want to write about Reich-Ranicki?! He already has a halo.” (From a German publisher who finally decided not to print my book.)

“Reich-Ranicki?? When he dies, he will go directly to heaven.” (From another German publisher who also finally decided not to print my book.)

“Reich-Ranicki? Be careful. He’s both a showman and a Stasi man.” (A Polish historian.)

 

In the beginning a boy by the name of Marceli Reich was born on 2. June 1920 in the town of Włocławek on the Vistula. The times were turbulent. Having been partitioned for many years, Poland was finally an independent country once more and Włocławek (which had belonged to the Tsarist Empire until the First World War), was also liberated. But the peace did not hold for long. In summer 1920 the Red Army was already on its way westwards. It was in the middle of Poland and wanted to reach Berlin within a few weeks as the vanguard of the world revolution. A cavalry division stood on the eastern bank of the Vistula at a bridge leading to the town centre in Włocławek. If the troops had succeeded in crossing the river the history of Europe would probably have been completely different. 

At the very last moment the bridge was blown up and the life of the Jewish family, Reich, who had fled the town as a precautionary measure, continued on its peaceful path. His father was a pious man, an entrepreneur by profession. He spoke Polish, Russian, Yiddish and German. By contrast his mother, who felt close ties to German culture, spoke German very well but her Polish was very poor. In his autobiography [1] Reich-Ranicki never revealed which of the languages was the family “business language”. But he did confide to me the following information: “There were two business languages: Polish and German. My mother and father spoke German when they did not want the children to understand what they were saying. At the time we could speak Polish better than German.”[2] Marceli had two older siblings, Gerda and Herbert Aleksander.

 

[1] Marcel Reich-Ranicki: The Author of Himself: The Life of Marcel Reich-Ranicki, translated by Ewald Osers, Princeton University Press, 2001

[2] Gerhard Gnauck: Wolke und Weide. Marcel Reich-Ranickis polnische Jahre. Stuttgart 2009, page 27