German Writer G?nter Grass Dies Aged 87

Obituaries | April 13, 2015, Monday // 12:41|  views

A file picture dated 20 November 2014 shows German Nobel Prize-winning novelist Guenter Grass speaking during the opening of his exhibition `Hundejahre` (Dog Years) in Munich, Germany. EPA/BGNES

Gunter Grass, the renowned German author and Nobel Prize winner, has died, Deutsche Welle reported.

The 87-year old Grass passed away in L?beck, northern Germany, on Monday, 13 April 2015.

Grass was born in 1927 in the free city of Danzig, which is now Gdansk in Poland. After the war, he settled in West Germany.

The novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor and winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature, Grass is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum. The 1959 novel tells about the rise of the Nazis, the WWII and its aftermath.

A 1979 film adaptation of the novel co-written and directed by Volker Schl?ndorff, won the Palme d'Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Tin Drum was followed by Cat and Mouse and Dog Years, which made up what is called the Danzig Trilogy. 

The Swedish Academy awarded Grass the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999, praising him as a writer "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history". The Swedish Academy described The Tin Drum as “one of the enduring literary works of the 20th century.”

Throughout his life Grass was regarded as a moral authority by some and as a hypocrite by others, DW commented in its coverage of the sad news.

At the age of just 17, he witnessed the horrors of World War II as a member of the Hitler Youth. He later briefly joined the Waffen-SS, the special forces unit of Nazi Germany.

It would be decades until he would be able to talk openly about what he had lived through. And it was his military service in Waffen-SS that brought accusations of opportunism and hypocrisy when he wrote about it in his 2006 autobiographical work, Peeling the Onion.

"My silence through all these years is one of the reasons why I wrote this book," Grass said back then. "It had to come out finally."

In 2012 Grass drew controversy with a poem criticizing Israel for preparing to wipe out Iran and threatening world peace.

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Tags: Nobel prize, Gunter Gras, Germany, The Tin Drum


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