Frank Schirrmacher

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Frank Schirrmacher
Frank Schirrmacher.jpg
Born (1959-09-05) September 5, 1959 (age 54)
Occupation Co-publisher of the FAZ
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Siegen
University of Heidelberg
University of Cambridge

Frank Schirrmacher (born September 5, 1959) is a German journalist, doctored literature expert and essayist, writer, and since 1994 co-publisher of the national German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.


After studying Germanistics, English studies, and philosophy in Heidelberg and Cambridge, Schirrmacher joined the FAZ as editor of the feuilleton (literature and arts section) in 1985. In 1988, he received his doctorate for a work about Franz Kafka at the University of Siegen. Several years later, Der Spiegel criticized him for self-plagiarism in his dissertation—asserting that most of the text had already been used as his magister thesis and in a Suhrkamp book publication—, as well as for other inconsistent statements about his biography.[1]

Editor and publisher of FAZ[edit]

In 1989, he succeeded Marcel Reich-Ranicki as the director of the editorial staff FAZ Feuilleton, a supplement of the FAZ on the arts. In 1994 he succeeded Joachim Fest as one of the five publishers of the newspaper, responsible for the Feuilleton, Science and other parts. Schirrmacher supports expanding this section to include science. Popular culture has also been dealt with more since Schirrmacher has been with the FAZ.

As the press boomed around 2000, Schirrmacher expanded the feuilleton a lot, also recruiting journalists from other newspapers. A few years later, he was, however, forced to reduce the number of pages of the feuilleton and to lay off employees, for the first time in the history of the FAZ.

Debates encouraged[edit]

Schirrmacher has always managed to determine what controversial topics are discussed in the German public, the debates about genetic engineering and brain research and about the low birth rates in Germany and Europe, for example. Newsweek named him one of the leading intellectuals, Ray Kurzweil calls Schirrmacher one of the "big thinkers".[2]

Frank Schirrmacher's roasting of Martin Walser's novel Tod eines Kritikers in 2002 caused a stir in the German press. Schirrmacher claimed the book, which was seen as a roman à clef centering around Schirrmacher's predecessor Reich-Ranicki (a German literature critic of Jewish ancestry), contained anti-semitic passages. He had reviewed the book before it came out, so the publishers changed the novel before publishing it, the first time a book review had this effect in German history.

In his 2004 book Das Methusalem-Komplott, published in 14 languages and selling more than 1 million copies in Germany, Schirrmacher prognosticated the ageing of society as a result of low birth rates and calling for an "uprising of the old". He received the Goldene Feder award for this book. In 2006, Minimum was published, which became a bestseller too. The title refers to Schirrmacher's assertion that the family was dissolving as the smallest cell of society, resulting in diminution of social relationships to a minimum. To prove the superiority of the family, he cites the event of the Donner Party, resorted to cannibalism. Critics claimed that he exaggerated the statistics and that he supported a conservative view of the family. Through a PR campaign which included publishing some passages in Der Spiegel and Bild-Zeitung, the book caused another media debate about the topic.

In a 2006 interview with Schirrmacher, Nobel laureate Günter Grass admitted to have served in the Waffen-SS as a young man. Grass made the admission in a conversation about his new autobiography, "Peeling Onions", saying he had been drafted at the age of 17 into the Waffen-SS—the combat force of the SS—in the final months of World War II.[3] The interview stirred up a worldwide debate and forced Grass' publisher to publish the book earlier than intended.


Among other awards and honors, Schirrmacher received the International Corinne Book Prize, and in 2007 he was awarded the "Kulturpreis Deutsche Sprache" which is among the highest cultural prizes in the German-speaking world[citation needed].


This article incorporates information from the revision as of June 17, 2006 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.