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Stefan Zweig: The Tragic Author Who Inspired The Grand Budapest Hotel


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Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was the talk of Sunday’s 2015 Academy Awards. The delightful, unusual film was being nominated for nine Oscars, and won four, in the categories of Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Only Birdman, the best picture-winner, won as many. What few people seem to know is that Anderson’s original, beautiful tale of Gustave H and Zero the lobby boy is loosely based on and inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian novelist whose own story is enough to break your heart.

zweig-goebbelsZweig was Jewish, and at the apex of his career could be counted as one of the world’s most respected and popular authors. Hitler’s increasing followers and rise to power made him fearful and uncomfortable. In this original letter (left), Zweig writes for support and assistance to a Mr. Glaser. The precipitating event? Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for the Third Reich, had publicly quoted Zweig as calling the German people a “horde that needed to be unmasked”, which Stefan Zweig had never said at all. Despite his desperate attempts to clear his name and have the truth brought to light, Zweig’s books began to appear at book burnings along with other Jewish-written works, and Zweig left Austria the following year, in 1934.

Discover more about Stefan Zweig and the whole story behind The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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