Eric Sanders: 1919-2021

WGGB Treasurer Gail Renard pays tribute to Eric Sanders, who - at the age of 101 - was one of the Writers' Guild's oldest members
Eric SandersEric Sanders

The WGGB has just lost its oldest and one of its most charming and erudite members.

Eric Sanders was born Ignaz Erich Schwarz in Vienna in 1919, the son of Jewish parents. He and his family were forced to leave Austria during the Anschluss in 1938 and arrived in the UK.

Sanders served in the British Army for seven years, three as an agent in the Special Operations Executive (SOE). He was given fake identities as a French foreign worker and a German soldier. It was also when Ignaz Schwarz became Eric Sanders. Along with other exiled socialists, Sanders organised resistance in Austria.

Sanders returned to Austria after the war as a translator in the Legal Division of the British Occupation Forces, after which he became a history teacher in London.

It was only after his retirement that Sanders began writing plays, musicals, a screenplay and short stories. He visited his old school in Vienna to speak as a witness to the Holocaust.

Sanders joined the Writers’ Guild in 1986 when it was merged with the Theatre Writers Union (of which he was already a member). He wrote books in both English and German, including his autobiographies, Emigration ins Leben (Emigration Into Life) and Secret Operations.

Sanders later received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Culture and Science.

Our condolences to Mr Sanders’ family. We wish them long life.