1972 winner of the Nobel Prize In literature
Heinrich Theodor Böll ( 21 December 1917 – 16 July 1985) was one of Germany’s foremost post-World War II writers. Böll was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1967 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972.
Böll was born in Cologne, Germany, to a Catholic, pacifist family that later opposed the rise of Nazism. He refused to join the Hitler Youth during the 1930s. He was apprenticed to a bookseller before studying German at the University of Cologne. In 1942 he married Annemarie Cech, with whom he would have three sons; she later collaborated with him on a number of different translations of English and American literature into German that he produced over the years. Conscripted into the Wehrmacht, he served in Poland, France, Romania, Hungary and the Soviet Union, and was wounded four times (as well as contracting typhoid fever) before being captured by Americans in April 1945 and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.
After the war he returned to Cologne and began working in his family’s cabinet shop and, for one year, worked in a municipal statistical bureau, an experience which he did not enjoy and which he left in order to take the risk of becoming a writer instead.
Böll became a full-time writer at the age of 30. His first novel, Der Zug war pünktlich (The Train Was on Time), was published in 1949. He was invited to the 1949 meeting of the Group 47 circle of German authors and his work was deemed to be the best presented in 1951.
Many other novels, short stories, radio plays and essay collections followed.