Günter Grass

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Georg Büchner Prize
1965

Günter Wilhelm Grass (born 16 October 1927) is a Nobel Prize-winning German author and playwright.

He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). In 1945, he came as a refugee to West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.

He is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum, a key text in European magic realism and the first part of his Danzig Trilogy. His works frequently have a left wing, social democrat political dimension, and Grass has been an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.

Contents

Life

Grass was born in the Free City of Danzig on 16 October 1927, to Willy Grass (1899–1979), a Protestant ethnic German, and Helene Grass (née Knoff, 1898–1954), a Roman Catholic of Kashubian-Polish origin.[1][2] Grass was raised a Catholic. His parents had a grocery store with an attached apartment in Danzig-Langfuhr (now Gdańsk-Wrzeszcz). He has one sister, who was born in 1930.

Grass attended the Danzig Gymnasium Conradinum. He volunteered for submarine service with the Kriegsmarine "to get out of the confinement he felt as a teenager in his parents' house" which he considered - in a negative way - civic Catholic lower middle class.[3][4] In 1943 he became a Luftwaffenhelfer, then he was drafted into the Reichsarbeitsdienst, and in November 1944, shortly after his seventeenth birthday, into the Waffen-SS. The seventeen-year-old Grass saw combat with the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg from February 1945 until he was wounded on 20 April 1945 and sent to an American POW camp.

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