Heinrich Böll

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Heinrich Böll, 1981
Heinrich Böll

Heinrich Böll (December 21, 1917 in Cologne – July 16, 1985 in Langenbroich the Eifel, south of Bonn) was a German writer. He was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.

Life[change | change source]

Böll was born in Cologne. His family were strong Catholics and pacifists. He went to school from 1922 to 1937. After his abitur, he started a training to become a bookseller. He did not go to the Hitler Youth, but he had to join the German army in the World War II. In 1939, he started to study German literature in Cologne, but he had to break for his army service.

In 1945 he became prisoner of war by the Americans. The Americans wanted to educate the German people to became a democracy. So they encouraged prisoners with talent to write. Böll and some other young writers founded the group 47.

Böll wrote a lot of social critical literature. His main themes were the repression in the way of life by conservative catholic forces and the unsolved problem of old Nazis in the society.

In the 1970s, he criticized the losing of civil laws by the fight against terrorism (of the RAF, Red Army Faction, a left-winged political terror group in the 1970s in West Germany). For that reason, the Bild-Zeitung, an very conservative yellow press newspaper, started a campaign against him.

In the late 1970s, he started to look for Human Rights in the Eastern Block, where some friends of his lived, too. He helped the Soviet dissidents Alexander Solshenizyn and Lev Kopelev.

In the 1980s, he worked for the peace movement. He protested against the nuclear armament in West Germany.

He went back to the Roman Catholic Church, which he left 1976 by protests, before he died.

Heinrich Böll Foundation[change | change source]

The Green Party of Germany gave its foundation the name of Böll, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung. The goals of the foundation are for countries to work together, civil laws and democratic and ecological thinking.

Selected bibliography[change | change source]

  • Der Zug war pünktlich (The Train Was on Time), 1949
  • Das Vermächtnis (A Soldier's Legacy), written 1948-1949; publ. 1981
  • Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa (Stranger, Bear Word to the Spartans), 1950
  • Die schwarzen Schafe (Black Sheep), 1951
  • Nicht nur zur Weihnachtszeit (Christmas Not Just Once a Year), 1951
  • Wo warst du, Adam? (And Where Were You, Adam?), 1951
  • Der Engel schwieg (The Silent Angel), written 1949-1951; publ. 1992
  • 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
  • Doktor Murkes 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 (The Safety Net), 1979
  • Was soll aus dem Jungen bloss werden? (What's to Become of the Boy?), 1981
  • Vermintes Gelände, 1982
  • Die Verwundung (The Casualty), early tales, publ. 1983
  • Frauen vor Flusslandschaft (Women in a River Landscape), 1985 (publ. posthumously)

Translations[change | change source]

More than seventy translations of Annemarie and Heinrich Böll are listed in the bibliography published in 1995 by Werner Bellmann: poetical works of Brendan Behan, Eilis Dillon, O. Henry, Paul Horgan, Bernard Malamud, J. D. Salinger, George Bernard Shaw et al.

Secondary literature[change | change source]

  • Bernd Balzer: Das literarische Werk Heinrich Bölls. Kommentare und Interpretationen. dtv, München 1997. ISBN 3-423-30650-5
  • Werner Bellmann (Ed.): Das Werk Heinrich Bölls. Bibliographie mit Studien zum Frühwerk. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1995. ISBN 3-531-12694-6
  • Werner Bellmann (Ed.): Heinrich Böll, Romane und Erzählungen. Interpretationen. Reclam, Stuttgart 2000. ISBN 3-15-017514-3
  • Michael Butler (Ed.): The Narrative Fiction of Heinrich Böll. Social conscience and literary achievement. Cambridge 1994.
  • J.H. Reid: Heinrich Böll. A German for His Time. Berg Publishers Ltd., Oxford 1988.
  • Klaus Schröter: Heinrich Böll. Rowohlt-Verlag, Reinbek 1987. ISBN 3-499-50310-7
  • Jochen Vogt: Heinrich Böll. 2. Aufl. Beck, München 1987. ISBN 3-406-31780-4
  • Heinrich Vormweg: Der andere Deutsche. Heinrich Böll. Eine Biographie. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 2002. ISBN 3-462-02938-X

Other websites[change | change source]