One of Germany's foremost post-Second-World-War authors, Heinrich Böll
was born in Cologne
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
and the Soviet Union
, and was wounded four times then captured by Americanss
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 what he perceived as 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  and a special Heinrich Böll Archive in the Cologne Library .
- 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)
- Rendezvous, a short story, translated from the German by Breon Mitchell