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Heinrich Böll

Heinrich Böll (1917-1985), author

One of Germany's foremost post-Second-World-War authors, Heinrich Böll was born in Cologne, Germany on December 21, 1917. He successfully resisted joining the Hitler Youth. He was apprentice in a bookshop, then studied German at the University of Cologne. Drafted into the Wehrmacht, he served in France, Rumania, Hungary and the Soviet Union, and was wounded four times then captured by Americans in April 1945. Two years later, at the age of 30, he became a full-time writer.

His first published work, a short story entitled "Der Zug war pünktlich" (The Train Was on Time), appeared in 1947. Many other novels, short stories, radio plays and essay collections followed, and in 1972 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was the first German to receive this award since Thomas Mann in 1929. His work has been translated into more than 30 languages, and he is one of Germany's most read authors.

Böll was deeply rooted in his home town of Cologne, with its almost compulsory and oppressive Roman Catholicism and its rather rough and drastic sense of humour. In the immediate post-war period, he was preoccupied with memories of the War and the effect it had--materially and psychologically--on the lives of ordinary people. He has made them the heroes in his writing.

His villains are the authority figures in government, business, and in the Church, whom he castigates, sometimes humorously, sometimes acidly, for their conformism, lack of courage, self-satisfied attitude, and abuse of power.

He was deeply affected by the Nazi takeover of Cologne, as they essentially exiled him in his own town. Furthermore, the destruction of Cologne under Allied bombing raids scarred him irrevocably. The newly-rebuilt Cologne, prosperous once more, left him indifferent. His works have been dubbed "Trümmerliteratur"--rubble literature.

Heinrich Böll died on July 16, 1985.

His memory lives on at, among other places, the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation [1] (http://www.boell.de/) and a special Heinrich Böll Archive in the Cologne Library [2] (http://www.stbib-koeln.de/boell/).

Published works

Der Zug war pünktlich (The Train Was on Time) 1947

Das Vermächtnis (A Soldier's Legacy) 1948

Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa (Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans) 1950

Die schwarzen Schafe 1951

Wo warst du, Adam? (And Where Were You, Adam?) 1951

Der Engel schwieg (The Silent Angel) 1952

Nicht zur Weihnachtszeit 1952

Und sagte kein einziges Wort (And Never Said a Word) 1953

Haus ohne Hüter (House without Guardians) 1954

Das Brot der frühen Jahre (The Bread of Those Early Years) 1955

Irisches Tagebuch (Irish Journal) 1957

Die Spurlosen (Missing Persons) 1957

Dr. Murke's gesammeltes Schweigen (Dr. Murke's Collected Silence) 1958

Billard um halb zehn (Billiards at Half Past Nine) 1959

Ein Schluck Erde 1962

Ansichten eines Clowns (The Clown) 1963

Entfernung von der Truppe (Absent Without Leave) 1964

Ende einer Dienstfahrt (End of a Mission) 1966

Gruppenbild mit Dame (Group Portrait with Lady) 1971

Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum) 1974

Fürsorgliche Belagerung 1979

Was soll aus dem Jungen bloss werden? (What's to Become of the Boy?) 1981

Vermintes Gelände 1982

Die Verwundung (The Casualty) 1983

Frauen vor Flusslandschaft (Women in a River Landscape) 1985 (publ. posthumously)

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