Siegfried Lenz

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Siegfried Lenz
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F030757-0015, Siegfried Lenz.jpg
Born (1926-03-17) 17 March 1926 (age 88)
Lyck (Ełk), East Prussia
Occupation Novelist
Nationality German
Alma mater University of Hamburg
Period 1956–present
Notable works Deutschstunde
Notable awards

Siegfried Lenz (born 17 March 1926) is a German writer, who has written novels and produced several collections of short stories, essays, and plays for radio and the theatre. He was awarded the Goethe Prize in Frankfurt-am-Main on the 250th Anniversary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's birth. Lenz and his wife, Liselotte, also exchanged over 100 letters with Paul Celan and his wife, Gisèle Lestrange between 1952 and 1961.


Siegfried Lenz was born in Lyck, East Prussia (now Ełk, Poland). He was a son of a customs officer. After his graduation exam in 1943, he was drafted into Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.

According to documents released in June 2007, he may have joined the Nazi party on 20 April 1944. This was released with the names of several other well known German authors and persons, like Dieter Hildebrandt and Martin Walser.[1] However, Lenz subsequently said he had been included in a collective "joining" of the Party without his knowledge. Shortly before the end of World War II, he defected to Denmark, but became a prisoner of war in Schleswig-Holstein.

After his release, he attended the University of Hamburg, where he studied philosophy, English, and Literary history. His studies were cut off early, however, as he became an intern for the daily paper Die Welt, and served as its editor from 1950 to 1951. It was there he met his future wife, Liselotte (died 5 February 2006). They were married in 1949.

In 1951, Lenz took the money he had earned from his first novel, Habichte in der Luft, and financed a trip to Kenya. During his time there, he wrote about the Mau Mau Uprising in his history Lukas, sanftmütiger Knecht. Since 1951, Lenz worked as a freelance writer in Hamburg and was a member of the literature forum "Group 47". Together with Günter Grass, he became engaged with the Social Democratic Party and aided the Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt. A champion of the movement, he was invited in 1970 to the signing of the German-Polish Treaty. In October 2011 he was made an honorary citizen of Ełk, the successor to his hometown — which became Polish as a result of the border changes promulgated in 1945 by the Potsdam Conference.

Since 2003, Lenz has been a visiting professor at the Düsseldorf Heinrich Heine University and a member of the organization for German orthography and proper speech.


Critic Gerhardt Csejka described Lenz as one of the German authors who saw it as his duty to help the German people "to pay off the enormous debts", which "the Germans together with their honoured Führer had burdened themselves." Lenz saw it as his obligation to "take preventive actions against any danger of a reoccurrence."[2]


In 1988 Lenz was awarded with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, a prize given annually at the Frankfurt Book Fair.[3] The Goethe Prize of Frankfurt am Main (Goethepreis der Stadt Frankfurt) was given to Lenz in 2000. A year later, Lenz was honored with the highest decoration of Hamburg, the honorary citizenship.[4] Since 2004 Lenz has been honorary citizen of Schleswig Holstein, since 18 October 2011 honorary citizen of his hometown Ełk (Lyck).[5] In 2010 he won International Nonino Prize from the Nonino family.

Selected bibliography[edit]


Siegfried Lenz in 1969
Title Year Publisher Notes
Es waren Habichte in der Luft 1951 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 4181946
Duell mit dem Schatten 1953 Hoffmann und Campe ISBN 978-3-455-04255-9, 1995
Der Mann im Strom 1957 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 5955470, 1969
Brot und Spiele 1959 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 4181935
Stadtgespräch 1963 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 360361
The German lesson, translated E. Kaiser and E. Wilkins
1968 Hoffmann und Campe
New Directions Publishing
OCLC 17466388
ISBN 978-0-8112-0982-3 1986.
Translated to (Chinese), (Croatian), (Czech), (Danish), (Finnish), (French), (Korean), (Portuguese), (Polish), (Russian), (Slovak), (Spanish), (Italian)
Das Vorbild
An Exemplary Life, translated by Douglas Parmée
Hoffmann und Campe
Hill and Wang
ISBN 978-3-455-04238-2
ISBN 978-0-8090-4322-4, 1976
The heritage, translated K. Winston
1978 Hoffmann und Campe
Secker & Warburg
ISBN 978-3-455-04222-1
OCLC 59188447, 1981
Der Verlust 1981 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 8066291
Training ground, translated G. Skelton
1981 Hoffmann und Campe
ISBN 978-3-455-04213-9
ISBN 978-0-413-18120-6, 1991
Die Klangprobe 1990 Hoffmann und Campe ISBN 978-3-455-04248-1
Die Auflehnung 1994 Hoffmann und Campe ISBN 978-3-455-04252-8
Arnes Nachlass 1999 Hoffmann und Campe ISBN 978-3-455-04289-4
Fundbüro 2003 Hoffmann und Campe ISBN 978-3-455-04280-1

Novellas and narratives[edit]

Title Year Publisher Notes
So zärtlich war Suleyken; masurische Geschichten 1955 Hoffmann und Campe
Narratives. OCLC 3570259
Das schönste Fest der Welt 1961 Hans-Bredow-Institut OCLC 215017008.
First broadcasting of the radio drama Das schönste Fest der Welt was in 1956 by Nordwestdeutscher Rundfunk.
Das Kabinett der Konterbande 1956 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 8465256
Jaeger des Spotts. Geschichten aus dieser Zeit 1979 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag Narratives. ISBN 978-3-423-02530-0
First published 1958 by Hoffmann und Campe
Lukas, sanftmütiger Knecht 1958 Klett OCLC 221865117
Das Feuerschiff
The Lightship, translated by M. Bullock
1960 Hoffmann und Campe
Hill and Wang
Narratives. OCLC 231754572
OCLC 1028271, 1962
Zeit der Schuldlosen. Zeit der Schuldigen. 1961 Hans Bredow-Institut Play. OCLC 8651536
Stimmungen der See 1962 Reclam Narratives. OCLC 950463
Das Gesicht 1964 Hoffmann und Campe Play. OCLC 1250172
Lehmanns Erzählungen, oder So schön war mein Markt: aus den Bekenntnissen eines Schwarzhändlers. 1964 Hoffmann und Campe OCLC 60240089
Der Spielverderber 1965 Hoffmann und Campe Narrative. OCLC 263613364
Translated to (Dutch)
Haussuchung 1967 Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag Play. OCLC 59690579
Leute von Hamburg 1968 Hoffmann und Campe Narrative. OCLC 257975222
Die Augenbinde 1970 Rowohlt Play. OCLC 256912361
Wie bei Gogol 1973 Reclam Narrative. Published in Erzählte Zeit : 50 deutsche Kurzgeschichten der Gegenwart ISBN 978-3-15-009996-4
Der Geist der Mirabelle : Geschichten aus Bollerup 1975 Hoffmann und Campe Narrative. ISBN 978-3-455-04206-1
Translated to (Dutch), (Low Saxon), (Polish), (Russian)
Einstein überquert die Elbe bei Hamburg 1975 Hoffmann und Campe Narratives. ISBN 978-3-455-04227-6
Drei Stücke 1980 Hoffmann und Campe Plays. ISBN 978-3-455-04242-9
Ein Kriegsende 1984 Hoffmann und Campe Narrative. ISBN 978-3-455-04212-2
Translated to (Dutch)
Das serbische Mädchen 1987 Hoffmann und Campe Narratives. ISBN 978-3-455-04245-0
Translated to (Dutch)
The Selected Stories of Siegfried Lenz
Translation of selections from: Die Erzählungen
1995 Northwestern University Press ISBN 0-8101-1314-7
Ludmilla 1996 Hoffmann und Campe Narrative. ISBN 978-3-455-04256-6
Zaungast 2004 Hoffmann und Campe Narrative. ISBN 978-3-455-04278-8
Die Erzählungen 2006 Hoffmann und Campe Short stories. ISBN 3-455-04285-6
First published Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag: Vol. 1: 1949-1958. Vol 2: 1959-1964. Vol. 3: 1965-1984.
Ein Freund der Regierung 1983 Denmarks Skoleradio Short story. OCLC 60882341
Schweigeminute 2008 Hoffmann und Campe Novella. ISBN 978-3-455-04284-9

Essays, children's books, speeches[edit]

  • 1970 Beziehungen, Essay
  • 1971 Die Herrschaftssprache der CDU, Speech
  • 1971 Verlorenes Land - Gewonnene Nachbarschaft, Speech
  • 1971 So war das mit dem Zirkus, Children's book
  • 1980 Gespräche mit Manès Sperber und Leszek Kołakowski
  • 1982 Über Phantasie: Gespräche mit Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, Walter Kempowski, Pavel Kohout
  • 1983 Elfenbeinturm und Barrikade. Erfahrungen am Schreibtisch, Essay
  • 1986 Geschichte erzählen - Geschichten erzählen, Essay
  • 1992 Über das Gedächtnis. Reden und Aufsätze
  • 1998 Über den Schmerz, Essay
  • 2001 Mutmassungen über die Zukunft der Literatur, Essay
  • 2006 Selbstversetzung, Über Schreiben und Leben, ISBN 3-455-04286-4


  1. ^ "Dieter Hildebrandt soll in NSDAP gewesen sein" (in German). Die Welt. 2007-06-30. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  2. ^ "Siegfried Lenz (1926), Deutschstunde". Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag. Retrieved 2009-10-04. 
  3. ^ "All prize winners and speakers". Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels. Retrieved 2009-10-06. 
  4. ^ "Hamburgische Ehrenbürger" (in German). Chancellery of the Senate. Retrieved 2009-10-06. "Hat mit seinem literarischen Werk zur Erneuerung und Anerkennung Deutschlands im Geiste des Humanismus beigetragen (Has contributed with his literary work for the renewal and recognition of Germany in the spirit of humanism)" 
  5. ^ "Siegfried Lenz zum Ehrenbürger seiner Geburtsstadt ernannt" (in German). Hamburger Abendblatt. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 

External links[edit]