• Germany's news in English
Novelist Siegfried Lenz dies aged 88
Siegfried Lenz. Photo: DPA

Novelist Siegfried Lenz dies aged 88

AFP · 7 Oct 2014, 14:09

Published: 07 Oct 2014 14:09 GMT+02:00

Lenz captured some of his country's most prestigious prizes for novels such as the widely translated "Deutschstunde" (German Lesson), "Das Vorbild" (An Exemplary Life) and "Heimatmuseum" (The Heritage).

His publisher throughout his five-decade-long career, Hoffmann und Campe, called him in its obituary "one of the most important and most-read writers in German literature".  

Lenz was an impassioned participant in the intellectual life of his era, and held lively debates with luminaries such as Nobel laureate Gunter Grass and poet and Holocaust survivor Paul Celan.

"Siegfried Lenz was one of these people you don't find anymore - a writer who is loved beyond the community of literature aficionados," Daniel Kampa of Hoffmann und Campe said in a statement.

He was an "artist who saw his writing as a moral duty and who engaged with world events," Kampa added.

"German Lesson", published in 1968, in particular laid bare how Nazi ideology infected a culture that had prided itself on its refinement and sophistication.

Although Lenz was widely revered for injecting a moral conscience into the literature of the post-war period, he himself expressed frustration about the limited impact of books on Western society.

"As a writer I learned how little literature is capable of, how meagre and unpredictable its effect was and still is," Lenz said as he accepted the peace prize of the German Publishers' Association in 1988.

Born in Lyck in East Prussia in 1926, Lenz was called up to serve in Hitler's navy before deserting in April 1945.

After a brief period as a prisoner of war, Lenz moved to the northern port city of Hamburg to study philosophy and literature.

Story continues below…

He became active in the Social Democratic Party and developed a friendship with Helmut Schmidt, who was chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982, that would last more than 50 years.

The cause of his death was not released.

SEE ALSO: Gunter Grass hangs up novelist pen

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Police hunt Brits who Hitler-saluted in concentration camp
Buchenwald. Photo: DPA

Authorities in Germany are searching for two British men who took a picture of themselves performing a Nazi salute in a torture chamber in Buchenwald concentration camp.

Far-right tries to lure voters with own-brand gummy bears

Germany's far-right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have come up with an unusual marketing strategy on their website.

How your boss can still pay lower than the minimum wage
A protest in front of the Chancellery in 2013. Photo: DPA

German workers are disappointed about the first-ever court ruling on the country's year-old minimum wage law.

'Shit show' Berlin airport
Plan to open Berlin airport in 2017 finally (inevitably) dead
Passengers won't be walking beneath Willy Brandt's name in lights any time soon. Photo: DPA

Travellers are set to wait still longer for Berlin's much-delayed new airport to open, as city media report that a provisional opening date in late 2017 is no longer achievable.

Hero bin man saves child from 2nd storey plunge
Bogdan W. (r) with four-year-old Eden. Photo: DPA

A young boy had a miraculous rescue in western Germany on Wednesday when a bin man happened to see him hanging from the window ledge and managed to catch him just in time.

Church hides refugees from state in Bavarian beauty spot
The view near Tutzing on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

The Catholic Church in southern Bavaria is offering religious asylum to refugees who fled Isis, and who the state now wants to deport.

German firm fights years-long battle to crack Rubik's Cube
Photo: DPA

A German toy manufacturer is nearing success in its long battle to be able to make a Rubik's Cube all of its own.

The Local List
13 (even more) thrilling facts you must know about Berlin
Berlin, du bist so wunderbar. Photo: DPA.

Berlin is just so gosh darn interesting, we couldn't fit it all into the first list on our website of infinite virtual space.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd