Famous 20th Century German Writers

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 1 
Bertolt Brecht
(Theatre Practitioner, Playwright, and Poet Known for His Plays: ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and ‘Life of Galileo’)
Bertolt Brecht
8
Birthdate: February 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Augsburg, Germany
Died: August 14, 1956

German playwright, poet, and theater director, Bertolt Brecht, is best known for co-writing the play, The Threepenny Opera, with Kurt Weill. Growing up in war-torn Germany in the early 20th century, he had a difficult life. A hardcore Marxist, he lived in exile during the Nazi period. He returned to Germany after the war and established a theater company.

 2 
Hermann Hesse
(Poet, Novelist & Painter Who Won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Hermann Hesse
6
Birthdate: July 2, 1877
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Calw, Germany
Died: August 9, 1962

German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. He explored individuals’ search for authenticity, self-knowledge, and spirituality in his works. An intense and headstrong person from childhood, he developed an early interest in reading. He started writing as a young man and became an influential author in the German-speaking world. 

 3 
Hannah Arendt
(One of the Most Influential Political Theorists of the 20th Century)
Hannah Arendt
6
Birthdate: October 14, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Linden - Mitte, Hanover, Germany
Died: December 4, 1975

Hannah Arendt was a political theorist. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent political thinkers, Hannah Arendt's articles and books have had a significant influence on philosophy and political theory. Her life and work inspired the 2012 biographical drama film, Hannah Arendt. Her work has also inspired several biographies written by popular authors.

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 4 
Rainer Maria Rilke
(Austrian Poet and Novelist Known for His Poetry Collections ‘Duino Elegies’ and ‘Sonnets to Orpheus’)
Rainer Maria Rilke
5
Birthdate: December 4, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic
Died: December 29, 1926

Bohemian-Austrian poet and author Rainer Maria Rilke is best remembered for his numerous poetry collections and his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. His works contain metaphors, contradictions, and elements drawn from Greek mythology. Though most of his works were in German, he had also written in French.

 5 
Thomas Mann
(German Novelist Who Won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Thomas Mann
4
Birthdate: June 6, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lübeck, Germany
Died: August 12, 1955
German author Thomas Mann, known for his epic novels, was part of the Hanseatic Mann family of authors. He depicted his own family in his novel Buddenbrooks. He won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature. During Hitler’s reign, he fled to Switzerland and then to the U.S.
 6 
Walter Benjamin
(German Jewish Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Essayist)
Walter Benjamin
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: September 26, 1940

Walter Benjamin was a German Jewish essayist, philosopher, and cultural critic. An eclectic thinker, Benjamin made significant contributions to literary criticism, aesthetic theory, and historical materialism. Although Benjamin's work did not earn much recognition during his lifetime, it continues to be revered by academics several years after his death.

 7 
Anne Frank
(Diarist)
Anne Frank
17
Birthdate: June 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 12, 1945

One of the numerous Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Anne Frank gained recognition posthumously after her diary Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was published. The diary, which has been widely read and translated into numerous other languages, details the lives of Anne Frank and her family when they went into hiding for two years, after Germany occupied Netherlands.

 8 
Eckhart Tolle
(Spiritual Teacher and Self-Help Author Known for His Works ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’)
Eckhart Tolle
6
Birthdate: February 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lünen, Germany
Spiritual and self-help writer Eckhart Tolle is best known for his bestselling books The Power of Now and A New Earth. He collaborated with Oprah Winfrey, appearing in 10 live webinars and was also named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100. He also launched Eckhart Teachings and the website Eckhart Tolle TV.
 9 
Philipp Lahm
(Football player)
Philipp Lahm
6
Birthdate: November 11, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
 10 
Erich Maria Remarque
(German Writer Best Known for His Novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’)
Erich Maria Remarque
4
Birthdate: June 22, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Osnabrück, Germany
Died: September 25, 1970

German novelist Erich Maria Remarque is best remembered for his landmark novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Born in the late 1890s, he was conscripted into the German Imperial Army during World War I. His wartime experiences later motivated him to write what would become his seminal work. He also authored many other poignant novels.

 11 
Margot Frank
(Second World War victim)
Margot Frank
4
Birthdate: February 16, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt am Main, Hesse, Germany
Died: March 9, 1945
 12 
Max Ernst
(Primary Pioneer of the 'Dada Movement' and 'Surrealism' Known for His Work 'A Week of Kindness')
Max Ernst
5
Birthdate: April 2, 1891
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brühl, Germany
Died: April 1, 1976

Max Ernst was a German painter, graphic artist, sculptor, and poet. A pioneer of the Dada movement, Ernst played an important role in popularizing surrealism during the early-20th century. He is also credited with inventing a couple of techniques, namely frottage and grattage. In 2005, the Max Ernst Museum was opened in his honor in Brühl, Germany.

 13 
Martin Niemöller
(German Theologian and Pastor Known for His Most Famous Poem 'First They Came...')
Martin Niemöller
4
Birthdate: January 14, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lippstadt, Germany
Died: March 6, 1984
Best remembered for the quote “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out...,” Martin Niemöller was a German pastor who tried to counter discrimination against Christian converts with Jewish heritage. His Confessing Church was perhaps his apology for initially being a Nazi sympathizer.
 14 
Christine Kaufmann
(First German Actress to Win the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year)
Christine Kaufmann
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lengdorf, Styria, Austria
Died: March 28, 2017

German-Austrian actress, author, and businesswoman Christine Kaufmann gained attention of post-war German movie audiences with her performances in films like Rosen-Resli, Der schweigende Engel and Ein Herz schlägt für Erika. She became the first German to be honoured with Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance in the drama film Town Without Pity.

 15 
Michael Haneke
(Film director, Screenwriter, Writer, University teacher)
Michael Haneke
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Munich

Award-winning Austrian film director and screenwriter Michael Haneke, who teaches film direction at the Film Academy Vienna, is best-known for films like The Piano Teacher, Caché, The White Ribbon and Amour. Haneke has made films in English, French and German, and mostly deals with subjects that examine social issues and portrays feelings of individuals facing social alienation in modern society.

 16 
Lilli Palmer
(Actress)
Lilli Palmer
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: January 27, 1986
 17 
Franz Halder
(Former general, chief of staff of the Army High Command (OKH) in Nazi Germany from 1938 until September 1942)
Franz Halder
3
Birthdate: June 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Würzburg, Germany
Died: April 2, 1972

Franz Halder, the son of an army officer, became the Chief of General Staff of the German army, replacing General Ludwig Beck. He later became the Commander in Chief but was replaced due to disagreements with Hitler. He later testified against major Nazi officials in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

 18 
Manfred Rommel
(Writer, Politician, Jurist)
Manfred Rommel
3
Birthdate: December 24, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stuttgart
Died: November 7, 2013
 19 
Günter Grass
(German Novelist & Nobel Prize Laureate, Best Known for His 1959 Novel, 'The Tin Drum')
Günter Grass
3
Birthdate: October 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Free City of Danzig, Poland
Died: April 13, 2015

Günter Grass was a German novelist, illustrator, graphic artist, poet, playwright, and sculptor. A much revered and decorated writer, Grass was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. Over the course of his illustrious career, Günter Grass won many other awards, including the Georg Büchner Prize and the Hermann Kesten Prize.

 20 
Lina Heydrich
(Former Writer, Reinhard Heydrich's wife)
Lina Heydrich
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1911
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Fehmarn, Germany
Died: August 14, 1985
 21 
Martin Schulz
(Politician, Bookseller, Non-fiction writer)
Martin Schulz
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Eschweiler
 22 
Gyles Brandreth
4
Birthdate: March 8, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wuppertal, Germany
 23 
Judith Kerr
(Writer and illustrator whose books sold more than 10 million copies around the world)
Judith Kerr
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1923
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: May 22, 2019
 24 
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
(Prominent Figure and Catalyst of the New German Cinema Movement)
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
4
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bad Wörishofen, Germany
Died: June 10, 1982

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was a German actor, filmmaker, and playwright. He grew up in the aftermath of World War II and had a tough childhood. He sought solace by watching films and took acting lessons. He began his career in theater and eventually entered films as well. He is considered a prominent figure of the New German Cinema movement. 

 25 
Gerhard Schröder
(Politician)
Gerhard Schröder
6
Birthdate: April 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Blomberg, Free State of Lippe, Nazi Germany

Gerhard Schröder is a German retired lawyer, politician, lobbyist, and consultant. From 1998 to 2005, Schröder served as the chancellor of Germany. He is currently serving as chairman of the popular energy company Rosneft. An influential figure, Gerhard Schröder has represented Germany on a couple of occasions, including the funeral services for Fidel Castro and Boris Yeltsin. 

 26 
Hans Morgenthau
(Judge, Political scientist, Writer, Philosopher, University teacher)
Hans Morgenthau
3
Birthdate: February 17, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Coburg
Died: July 19, 1980

German-born American political scientist and historian Hans Morgenthau, a leading twentieth-century figure in the study of international relations, is noted for his contributions in international relations theory and the study of international law. His book Politics Among Nations introduced the concept of political realism that played an instrumental role in the foreign policy of the US.

 27 
Traudl Junge
(Former editor who worked as Adolf Hitler's last private secretary from December 1942 to April 1945)
Traudl Junge
4
Birthdate: March 16, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: February 10, 2002

After being rejected by a dance school, Traudl Junge ditched her plan of becoming a ballerina and mastered typing instead. She later served as Adolf Hitler’s typist and was the youngest of his secretaries. After staying silent for years, she eventually revealed her experience to Austrian filmmaker Andre Heller.

 28 
Karl May
(German Writer Known for His Adventure Novels Set in the American Old West)
Karl May
3
Birthdate: February 25, 1842
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany
Died: March 30, 1912

German author Karl May is best remembered for his travel and adventure tales, which narrate stories set in the Middle East and other lands. His best-known works include The Treasure in the Silver Lake. He developed his love for literature after reading voraciously while in prison for fraud.

 29 
George Nader
4
Birthdate: October 19, 1921
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Pasadena, California, United States
Died: February 4, 2002

American actor/writer George Nader is best known for his iconic films such as Sins of Jezebel and Congo Crossing. With his 6’1” frame, the actor mostly earned "beefcake" roles. Though not openly gay, he lived with his partner Mark Miller. An eye injury later forced him to retire from acting.

 30 
Michael Ende
(Writer)
Michael Ende
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Died: August 28, 1995
 31 
Dietrich Eckart
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz, Germany
Died: December 26, 1923

German anti-Semitic völkisch poet, playwright, journalist, publicist, and political activist Dietrich Eckart, one of Adolf Hitler's earliest mentors who Hitler acknowledged as the spiritual co-founder of Nazism, founded German Workers' Party, the precursor of Nazi Party. Eckart was the original publisher of the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, and lyricist of Sturmlied, the de facto anthem of the Sturmabteilung.

 32 
Gunnar Kaiser
3
Birthdate: 1976 AD
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
 33 
Blixa Bargeld
(Musician who has been a member of the groups Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and ANBB)
Blixa Bargeld
3
Birthdate: January 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
 34 
Sigmar Gabriel
(Politician, Teacher, Non-fiction writer)
Sigmar Gabriel
3
Birthdate: September 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Goslar
 35 
W. G. Sebald
(One of the Greatest German Authors Known for His Works: 'Vertigo', 'The Emigrants' & 'Austerlitz')
W. G. Sebald
4
Birthdate: May 18, 1944
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wertach, Germany
Died: December 14, 2001

Born in Germany, W. G. Sebald later studied in Switzerland and England. He gained fame with his non-chronological tales of people traumatized by the ravages of war. His novels such as Vertigo and The Emigrants deal with themes of decay and memory. He died while driving around Norwich.

 36 
Heinrich Böll
(One of Germany’s Foremost Post-World War II Writers)
Heinrich Böll
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany
Died: July 16, 1985

Nobel Prize-winning German author Heinrich Böll refused to join the Nazi youth wing and became a bookseller’s apprentice instead. However, he fought for the German Army later. He is best remembered for his works such as The Clown and The Silent Angel, revolving around themes of war.

 37 
Ernst Jünger
(German Soldier and Author Known for His World War I Memoir 'Storm of Steel')
Ernst Jünger
3
Birthdate: March 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Germany
Died: February 17, 1998

Though Ernst Jünger was part of the German Army in both the World Wars, he was against the Nazi dictatorship and was accused of being involved in a plot to kill Hitler. He authored the diary-novel The Storm of Steel and also made a mark as an entomologist.

 38 
Erich Kästner
(Known Primarily for His Humorous, Socially Astute Poems and the Children’s Book 'Emil and the Detectives')
Erich Kästner
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1899
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: July 29, 1974

Four-time Nobel Prize-nominated German author Erich Kästne is best remembered for his children’s books such as Emil and the Detectives. Initially aspiring to be a teacher, he later had stints as a journalist and a freelance author. A leading satirist, he contributed to Die Weltbühne and also headed PEN.

 39 
Jennifer Teege
3
Birthdate: June 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
 40 
Cornelia Funke
(German Author of Children's Fiction Best Known for Her Novels: ‘The Thief Lord’ and ‘Dragon Rider’)
Cornelia Funke
3
Birthdate: December 10, 1958
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dorsten, Germany

Named to Time 100 in 2015, Cornelia Funke is a German children’s author who soared to fame with her best-selling novels The Thief Lord and Dragon Rider before achieving international fame with her Inkheart novel series. She has previously been a social worker, a board-game designer, and an illustrator.

 41 
Nelly Sachs
(German-Swedish Poet and Playwright, Known for His Play ‘Eli: Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels')
Nelly Sachs
4
Birthdate: December 10, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany
Died: May 12, 1970

Nelly Leonie Sachs, internationally noted German-Swedish poet and dramatist, wrote conventional romantic poems until the rise of Nazism brought about a drastic change in her life. Forced to flee to Sweden, she began writing about the grief and yearnings of her fellow Jews, concurrently translating German works into Swedish and vice-versa. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.

 42 
Ursula Haverbeck
3
Birthdate: November 8, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Winterscheid, Gilserberg, Germany
Helmuth Hübener
3
Birthdate: January 8, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hamburg
Died: October 27, 1942
 44 
Edgar Rosenberg
(Film producer)
Edgar Rosenberg
3
Birthdate: 1925 AD
Birthplace: Bremerhaven
Died: August 14, 1987
 45 
Guido Westerwelle
(Jurist, Politician, Lawyer, Writer)
Guido Westerwelle
3
Birthdate: December 27, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bad Honnef
Died: March 18, 2016
 46 
Eduard Bernstein
(Former social democratic Marxist theorist)
Eduard Bernstein
3
Birthdate: January 6, 1850
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: December 18, 1932

Though a staunch socialist and Marxist, Eduard Bernstein was also one of the biggest critics of Marxist theory and thus gained the nickname The Father of Revisionism. He spotted many loopholes in Karl Marx’s tenets, such as the eventual collapse of the capitalist economy. He also represented Brandenburg in the Reichstag.

 47 
Jens Söring
(Author)
Jens Söring
3
Birthdate: August 1, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bangkok, Thailand
 48 
Erika Mann
(Actress)
Erika Mann
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1905
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, German Empire
Died: August 27, 1969
 49 
Kristiane Backer
(Television presenter)
Kristiane Backer
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1965
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hamburg, Germany
 50 
Wolfgang Beltracchi
(Art forger, Artist, Painter, Sculptor, Writer)
Wolfgang Beltracchi
3
Birthdate: February 4, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Höxter

German art-forger and artist Wolfgang Beltracchi gained notoriety for his involvement in an international art scam where he forged paintings of famous artists like Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Heinrich Campendonk, and Kees van Dongen and sold them to make profits that surpassed $100m. Beltracchi and his wife, Helene, were found guilty and were given six-year and four-year prison terms respectively.