Author Günter Grass, 87, died April 13, 2015 in a hospital in Lübeck, Germany, where he’d lived for many years. Grass was a Nobel Prize-winning author of novels and poetry who occasionally made use of the fantastic in his work, an approach he called “broadened reality.” Notable examples include The Tin Drum (1959) and The Rat (1986).
Günter Wilhelm Grass was born October 16, 1927 in Danzig (now Gdańsk, in Poland), one of the first cities taken by the Nazis in WWII. Grass claimed for most of his life that he’d done no service in the German military during the war, until revealing in 2006 that he’d joined the Waffen-SS in 1944: “What I had accepted with stupid pride of youth I wanted to conceal after the war out of a recurrent sense of shame.” He was taken prisoner by the Allies at war’s end, and released in 1946.
After the war Grass studied sculpture and graphic design, but his focus soon turned to writing. He published more than 20 books throughout the course of his career, and was also a playwright and illustrator. Grass received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1999.
Grass is survived by second wife Ute Grunert, four children from his first marriage, two stepsons from his second marriage, two additional children, and 18 grandchildren.