• Germany's news in English

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
Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Govt denies planning bailout for troubled Deutsche Bank
Photo: DPA

Germany's finance ministry on Wednesday said the government was "not preparing rescue plans" for Deutsche Bank, denying a newspaper report that state aid was being considered for the embattled lender.

Munich at high risk of housing bubble: report
A view of Munich. Photo: Pexels.com

Considering buying property in Munich? This report might make you think twice.

After fatal hail storm, south Germany set to see sun
The hail storm in Baden-Württemberg on Monday night left the streets looking like a winter landscape. Photo: DPA.

A hail storm in southwest Germany on Monday night led to the death of one woman, but forecasters predict a bit more sun in the days to come.

Police shoot dead father who attacked daughter's abuser
Police at the scene of the shooting in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

Berlin police on Tuesday night shot and killed the father of a young girl at a refugee home as he tried to attack a man who allegedly sexually abused his daughter.

TV celebrity criticized for claiming 70 kg is overweight
Sophie Thomalla. Photo: DPA

Model Sophie Thomalla claimed that promoting models who weigh over 70 kg sets as dangerous an example as skinny supermodels.

UK files show how Spanish spy tricked Nazis over D-Day
Photo: DPA

Secret files released in Britain Wednesday shed new light on how a Spaniard dubbed the greatest double agent of World War II tricked Germany with false intelligence about the D-Day Normandy landings.

Pegida take to Dresden streets - to march against Pegida
Pegida demonstrators. Photo: DPA

Followers of the xenophobic Pegida movement marched in two factions on Monday evening in the capital of Saxony, brandishing fierce accusations of treason against one another.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd