Martin Pollack was born in 1944 in Bad Hall in Upper Austria. After his apprenticeship as a carpenter and cabinetmaker, he began his academic career studying Slavic Studies and Eastern European History. During his studies in Vienna and Warsaw, Pollack worked as a translator and reporter. His intense concern with the historical developments of Eastern Europe and his related journalistic activities form, to this day, the cornerstone of his work. His knowledge of the Slavic regions first came to the attention of a wider audience with the publication of his fictitious travel guide »Nach Galizien« (1984, tr: To Galicia) in which he describes the long-vanished sites of this historical region. His documentary approach and literary style are already fused here in a complete form which remains characteristic of both Pollack’s reports and his historical novels. The latter are largely concerned with the National Socialist history of his country. In »Anklage Vatermord« (2002, tr: Charged with Patricide) the author reconstructs the Nazi show-trial of the photographer Philipp Halsmann, while in »Der Tote im Bunker« (2004, tr: The Dead Man in the Bunker, 2006) he looks at his own father’s National Socialist past.
Alongside his literary writing, Pollack has in recent years been well known for his reports, stories and essays from and about various regions in Eastern Europe. His book »Warum wurden die Stanislaws erschossen?« (2008, tr: Why Were the Stanislaws Shot?) is, on the other hand, a compilation of his own reports from the last 25 years. Pollack wrote of the selection of the texts, which are about the political transformation of Eastern Europe: »When I try to place early work alongside newer texts being published here for the first time, I do so with the intention of calling attention to the transition period and the transformation. On the one hand it is already history […] and on the other hand, it is far from being over and continues to have an effect.«
Pollack is engaged in the historical processing of National Socialism and Communism and works towards an understanding between Poland and Austria in his activity as a translator. His dedication to these goals has earned him numerous awards. In 2003, he was awarded the Cavalier’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Austrian State Prize for Literary Translations. In 2007, he was presented the Karl-Dedecius-Prize for German and Polish translators, and the Tolerance Award of the Austrian Book Trade. Pollack also won the Georg-Dehio-Boo-Award for his life’s work in 2010. He lives in Vienna and Siegersbach.