Dr. Erwin Wickert
DAAD Scholarship 1935
Seeing the world with his own eyes was Erwin Wickert's motto in life. Before this "exceptional member of the foreign service" – as one journalist described him – took up his diplomatic postings in Paris, London, Bucharest and Beijing, Wickert travelled to the United States as a DAAD scholarship holder. In 1935, he studied political economy and political sciences in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, travelled by train through the country and subsequently went off to East Asia.
I could never bear seeing the world only from across my desk.
The region never let go of him again. Erwin Wickert spent the war years in Shanghai and Tokyo. Later, in his capacity as German ambassador in Beijing, he experienced the years of China's political opening from 1976 to 1980. The diplomat recorded many of his experiences in other cultures in literary works and to do that he occasionally took leave from the diplomatic service. Wickert wrote a dozen novels and non-fiction works and his radio dramas made him one of the most well-known radio play authors in the young Federal Republic.
The year 2001 saw the publication of the second volume of his autobiography Die glücklichen Augen (Fortunate eyes). Based on countless diary entries, Wickert describes the time from 1947 to 1976 – a fascinating piece of contemporary history from the perspective of a cosmopolitan author.
Another book of memories was published in 2003: Das Gipfelgespräch (The Summit Meeting). A collection of letters entitled Das muss ich Ihnen schreiben. Beim Blättern in unvergessenen Briefen (I had to write to you about this – browsing through unforgotten letters) was also published in 2005. In 1997, the former ambassador established the Erwin Wickert Foundation with the goal, among others, of promoting understanding between East Asia and the West. The foundation awards the Orient and Occident Prize for outstanding achievements in this area.
Erwin Wickert was the father of the well known journalist Ulrich Wickert. Erwin Wickert died in Remagen in March 2008.