Famous 20th Century German Writers

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Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century German Writers

 1 

Charles Bukowski
22
Birthdate: August 16, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Andernach, Germany
Died: March 9, 1994

German-American poet and short story writer ,Charles Bukowski, addressed the ordinary lives of poor Americans in most of his works. Since his death, he has been the subject of many critical books and articles. His stories have inspired several films like Tales of Ordinary Madness, Crazy Love, and Factotum.

 2 
Bertolt Brecht
(Theatre practitioner)

Bertolt Brecht
7
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.

 3 
Hannah Arendt
(Philosopher)

Hannah Arendt
5
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 
Hermann Hesse
(Poet & Novelist)

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. 

 5 
Anne Frank
(Diarist)

Anne Frank
15
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.

 6 
Till Lindemann
(Singer-songwriter)

Till Lindemann
9
Birthdate: January 4, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany

German singer-songwriter and poet Till Lindemann is best-recognised as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the German heavy-metal band Rammstein and for the musical project Lindemann that he fronted. Roadrunner Records listed him among "50 Greatest Metal Frontmen of All Time". He has also published two books of poetry, In stillen Nächten and Messer, and featured in minor roles in movies.

 7 
Philipp Lahm
(Football player)

Philipp Lahm
4
Birthdate: November 11, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
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 8 
Ruth Westheimer
(Media Personality)

Ruth Westheimer
5
Birthdate: June 4, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Karlstadt am Main, Germany
German-American sex therapist Ruth Westheimer, also known as Dr. Ruth, soared to fame with the radio show Sexually Speaking and later hosted many sexuality-related shows and wrote many books, too. She is also an ethnographer and a Holocaust survivor. Her life inspired the documentary Ask Dr. Ruth.

 9 
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

 10 
Thomas Mann
(Novelist)

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.

 11 
Walter Benjamin
(Philosopher)

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.

 12 
Max Ernst
(Painter)

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 
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.

 14 
Assia Wevill
(Poet mainly remembered in the context of her relationships with and influences on Sylvia Plath and Hughes)

Assia Wevill
4
Birthdate: May 15, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: March 23, 1969

Assia Wevill was an aspiring German poet and domestic-partner of English poet Ted Hughes. She escaped the Nazis at the start of the Second World War and eventually settled in the UK, where she got romantically involved with Hughes. She killed herself and her daughter the same way Hughes's first wife, Sylvia Plath, had killed herself six years earlier.

 15 
Maria Riva
(Actress)

Maria Riva
3
Birthdate: December 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

Born to actor Marlene Dietrich, Maria Riva started her career as a child actor, working in films such as The Scarlet Empress. The Emmy-nominated actor had also been part of CBS teleplays such as The Milton Berle Show. She had penned a bestselling memoir on her mother, too.

 16 
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

 17 
Lilli Palmer
(Actress)

Lilli Palmer
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: January 27, 1986

 18 

Christine Kaufmann
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mitterberg-Sankt Martin, 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.

 19 
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.

 20 
Günter Grass
(Author of 'The Tin Drum', 'Cat and Mouse' and 'Dog Years')

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.

 21 
Senta Berger
(Actress)

Senta Berger
3
Birthdate: May 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria

It is believed Austrian actor Senta Berger was suspended by the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar, where she studied drama, after she bagged her first movie role. The three-time Bambi Award winner is known for her roles in films such as The Quiller Memorandum. She is also involved with peace and environmental activism.

 22 
Manfred Rommel
(Writer, Politician, Jurist)

Manfred Rommel
3
Birthdate: December 24, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Stuttgart
Died: November 7, 2013

 23 
Martin Schulz
(Politician, Bookseller, Non-fiction writer)

Martin Schulz
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Eschweiler

 24 
Angela Gossow
(Vocalist)

Angela Gossow
3
Birthdate: November 5, 1974
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany

German singer Angela Gossow is best known to fans as the lead vocalist of the Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy. She is one of the few female singers who use death grunts as part of their performances. An atheist and a vegan, she is quite vocal about her opinions.

 25 

Clement Freud
4
Birthdate: April 24, 1924
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: April 15, 2009

Better known as the grandson of Sigmund Freud, Clement Freud was a broadcaster who made a name as a panelist on the BBC Radio 4 show Just a Minute. He was also a Liberal MP. His reputation was tainted later, after he was accused of molesting several underage girls.

 26 
Eckhart Tolle
(Spiritual teacher and self-help author)

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.

 27 

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.

 28 

Armin Mueller-Stahl
3
Birthdate: December 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sovetsk, Russia

German film and stage actor, director, painter and author Armin Mueller-Stahl is best-known for playing the abusive father of pianist David Helfgott in the 1996 Australian biographical drama film Shine. The role earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He also featured in other films like Utz and made his directorial debut with Conversation with the Beast.

 29 
Klaus Schwab
(Economist)

Klaus Schwab
4
Birthdate: March 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ravensburg, Germany

World-class economist Klaus Schwab, who established the World Economic Forum and is also its executive chairman, also has a mechanical engineering degree, along with a doctorate in engineering. He has been a University of Geneva professor and has been awarded a host of honorary doctorates and a French knighthood.

 30 
Edgar Rosenberg
(Film producer)

Edgar Rosenberg
3
Birthdate: 1925 AD
Birthplace: Bremerhaven
Died: August 14, 1987

 31 

Gyles Brandreth
4
Birthdate: March 8, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wuppertal, Germany

 32 
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

 33 

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. 

 34 
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. 

 35 
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.

 36 

Gunnar Kaiser
3
Birthdate: 1976 AD
Birthplace: Cologne, Germany

 37 

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.

 38 
Michael Ende
(Writer)

Michael Ende
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Died: August 28, 1995

 39 

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.

 40 
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.

 41 
Sigmar Gabriel
(Politician, Teacher, Non-fiction writer)

Sigmar Gabriel
3
Birthdate: September 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Goslar

 42 
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

 43 
W. G. Sebald
(Writer)

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.

 44 
Ernst Jünger
(Soldier, Author, Entomologist, Philosopher)

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.

 45 

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.

 46 

Jennifer Teege
3
Birthdate: June 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

 47 
Nelly Sachs
(Former Poet, Playwright particularly known for Eli: Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels, a 1950 play based on her World War II experiences)

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.

 48 
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.

 49 
Cornelia Funke
(Author of children’s fiction)

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.

 50 
Jean Arp
(Sculptor)

Jean Arp
3
Birthdate: September 16, 1886
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: June 7, 1966

Jean Arp was born in Strasbourg, to a German father and a French mother. After studying art in Paris and Switzerland, he co-created The Modern Alliance and participated in the Dada and Abstraction-Création movements. An avant-garde painter and sculptor, he also experimented with media such as embroidery.