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The Fritz Kraul Anglo-German Library (FKAGL)

In 2016, Fritz Kraul turned ninety years of age. Born in Oldenburg in 1926, the nonogerarian was born at the time of the Weimar Republic, experienced the rise of National Socialism as a child and was deployed on the West Front in 1944, where he was captured and interned in a prisioner of war (POW) camp in Wales, where he remained until after the war. His release in 1948 saw him return to Oldenburg where he had a successful career in photography and then in insurance until his retirement.

From his first English lesson at the age of 10 in Oldenburg to acting as an interpreter in the POW camp in Wales, from his leading role in establishing the Anglo-German Society in Oldenburg to his countless travels to his beloved England – Fritz has held a deep and underlying passion for all things English throughout his life. Not only does he possess an in-depth knowledge of Great Britain; but he has near-native competencies in the language, something that has served him well ever since he was taken prisoner in World War Two.

At 90, Fritz celebrated his party in style with his family and friends. Given his devotion to the Academy of English and its events, the Director of Studies presented him with the fitting gift of a biography of Queen Elizabeth II., who was also 90 years of age in 2016 as a token of appreciation for Fritz’s active participation in our Literaturkreis and the monthly Meet-Up-Group.

Shortly after his birthday, the Academy of English proposed a special TV programme to local Oldenburg TV station oeins to document Fritz’s life. The inspiration of this programme was a range of living room conversations that our Director of Studies, Dr. John Goodyear, had with Fritz Kraul. Convinced by the idea, oeins joined forces with the Academy of English to document Fritz’s incredible life. In a three-episode interview entitled Fritz at 90, the nongenerian deliberated and discussed questions posed to him by Dr. John Goodyear. The interviews went out in the German languge as three episodes: Jugend, Kriegszeit and Heute. They were recorded at the start of November 2016 and were broadcast in December 2016 on oeins.

It was fitting and appropriate, too, to record the interviews at the oeins studio, not least because Fritz as an amateur radio man and documentary maker had produced a number of documentaries on England which have been and continue to be shown on oeins. His shows on Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire have won critical acclaim and have been repeated a number of times on oeins.

Another key inspiration for the recording was as kind of farewell to Fritz as he has decided to move, at the age of 90, to Berlin to be closer to his family. Having a very substantial collection of English books on literature and culture at home in Oldenburg, Fritz most generosuly donated these books to the Academy of English for use in the delivery of courses and modules on English language, culture and literature. The collection, one that can be regarded as a library of the Bildungsbürgertum, contains the works of Dickens, Keats, Shakespeare, Shelley, Wordsworth and Yates as well as Goethe and Schiller.

Inaugurated in March 2017, the library was given the name of the Fritz Kraul Anglo-German Library (FKAGL) and is a permanent fixture at the Academy of English Alter Postweg branch, providing staff and students with literary and cultural works for their pleasure, enjoyment or their studies of English language and culture. The FKAGL broadens the library provisions of the Academy, making it one of the most comprehensive collections of English language books in Oldenburg alongside the University of Oldenburg and the Landesbibliothek.