Famous German Writers

Literature has always been considered the escape route for the emotionally exhausted. Germany, characterized by extreme political turmoil, has produced literature par excellence, over the years. German literature has undergone transformation along with the changes in their social, political, economic and religious situations. It has seen its highs and lows, and has produced some of the finest writers ever born. Be it 1999 Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass, or the famous Jean Paul of ‘Titan’ fame, works by German writers have always fascinated the world. They have been translated in all languages, English being the most preferred. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, whose work ‘Pied Piper of Hamelin’ every fairy tale book swears by, is probably the most famous German author, to be the inspiration behind many literary works in English. Germany, most known for its lyrical poetry, didactic poetry, epopees, use of irony and drama, modern German literature has also given us the likes of Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. We bring to you a collection of biographies of some of the most popular German writers. Read on and find out all about their life stories, timelines and also some interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Anne Frank

Anne Frank
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: March 1, 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.

 2 Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 16, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: German, American
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.

 3 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 28, 1749
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German
Died: March 22, 1832

Regarded as the greatest literary figure in Germany's modern era, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a statesman and writer. Apart from writing poetry and prose, he also wrote treatises on color, anatomy, and botany. Thanks to his literary genius, Goethe was made part of the Duke's privy council in Weimar and he implemented several reforms at the University of Jena.

 4 Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle
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Famous As: Spiritual Speaker & Author
Birthdate: February 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
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.

 5 Till Lindemann

Till Lindemann
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Famous As: Singer, Actor, Poet, Swimmer, Writer, Carpenter, Songwriter
Birthdate: January 4, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German

 6 Bertolt Brecht

Bertolt Brecht
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
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.

 7 Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Birthdate: February 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: April 9, 1945
Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer is remembered for his anti-Nazi stance, for establishing the Confessing Church, and for authoring the book The Cost of Discipleship. He was sent to the Flossenbürg concentration camp after being imprisoned for a year. He was eventually hanged after being charged of plotting to assassinate Hitler.
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 8 Philipp Lahm

Philipp Lahm
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Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: November 11, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
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 9 Roland Emmerich

Roland Emmerich
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Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter
Birthdate: November 10, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
German director/producer Roland Emmerich is best known for his blockbuster disaster/war films such as The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Godzilla, and The Patriot. The LGBT activist is also openly gay. He is also an avid art collector. He has also worked for women’s rights and environmental causes.

 10 Thomas Mann

Paul Thomas Mann
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Famous As: Novelist, Short Story Writer
Birthdate: June 6, 1875
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Swiss, German
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.
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 11 Hermann Hesse

Hermann Hesse
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 2, 1877
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Swiss, German
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. 

 12 Ruth Westheimer

Ruth Westheimer
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Famous As: Media Personality
Birthdate: June 4, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German, American
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.

 13 Erich Maria Remarque

Erich Maria Remarque
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 22, 1898
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: German
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.

 14 Theodor W. Adorno

Theodor W. Adorno
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 11, 1903
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German
Died: August 6, 1969

One of the most prominent intellectuals of the 20th century, Theodor Adorno was a pioneer of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory and despised the culture industry. Born to a singer mother, the German sociologist grew up amid music and could even play Beethoven on the piano by 12.

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 15 Traudl Junge

Traudl Junge
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Famous As: Memoirist, Painter, Secretary, Writer
Birthdate: March 16, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: German
Died: February 10, 2002

 16 Margot Frank

Margot Frank
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Famous As: Second World War victim
Birthdate: February 16, 1926
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: March 9, 1945

 17 Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller
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Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Historian & Philosopher
Birthdate: November 10, 1759
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: May 9, 1805

Friedrich Schiller was a German poet, physician, philosopher, playwright, and historian. Schiller is best remembered for his friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the two discussed issues concerning aesthetics. Schiller's discussions with Goethe paved the way for a period, which came to be known as Weimar Classicism. Friedrich Schiller is also widely regarded as Germany's most prominent classical playwright.

 18 Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Rainer Werner Fassbinder
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Famous As: Film maker
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: June 10, 1982

 19 Baron Münchhausen

Baron Münchhausen
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Famous As: Fiction writer
Birthdate: May 11, 1720
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: February 22, 1797

 20 Emilie Schindler

Emilie Schindler
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Famous As: Writer, Autobiographer
Birthdate: October 22, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Austrian, German
Died: October 5, 2001

 21 Götz von Berlichingen

Götz von Berlichingen
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Famous As: Imperial Knight, Mercenary, Poet
Birthdate: 1480 AD
Nationality: German
Died: July 23, 1562
Also known as Götz of the Iron Hand, German knight Götz von Berlichingen had begun fighting for the Holy Roman Empire even before coming of age. A cannon-fire injury led to his right hand and wrist to be amputated, but he continued fighting with a prosthetic arm.

 22 Heinrich Heine

Heinrich Heine
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 13, 1797
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German
Died: February 17, 1856

Heinrich Heine was a German poet, literary critic, and writer. He is known internationally for his lyric poetry, which was popularized by composers like Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann who adapted Heine's lyric poetry into art songs. Heinrich Heine's radical political views forced the German authorities to ban his works, which only added to his popularity.

 23 Assia Wevill

Assia Wevill
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Famous As: Socialite, Poet
Birthdate: May 15, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: March 23, 1969

 24 Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
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Famous As: Politician, Writer, Officer
Birthdate: March 20, 1870
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: German
Died: March 9, 1964

 25 Martin Schulz

Martin Schulz
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Famous As: Politician, Bookseller, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: December 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German

 26 Maria Riva

Maria Riva
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 13, 1924
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German, American

 27 Rudolf Schenker

Rudolf Schenker
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Famous As: Composer, Entrepreneur, Guitarist, Writer
Birthdate: August 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German

 28 Lina Heydrich

Lina Heydrich
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 14, 1911
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: August 14, 1985

 29 Manfred Rommel

Manfred Rommel
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Famous As: Writer, Politician, Jurist
Birthdate: December 24, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German
Died: November 7, 2013

 30 Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
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Famous As: General, Historian
Birthdate: October 26, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: April 24, 1891

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder was a Prussian field marshal who served as the chief of staff in the Royal Prussian Army for 30 years. Moltke, who commanded troops during Austro-Prussian War, Second Schleswig War, and the Franco-Prussian War, is credited with creating a new method of directing armies. He is also credited with pioneering the military usage of railways. 

 31 Angela Gossow

Angela Gossow
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Famous As: Singer, Journalist, Writer, Songwriter
Birthdate: November 5, 1974
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German

 32 Ernst Jünger

Ernst Jünger
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Famous As: Soldier, Author, Entomologist
Birthdate: March 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
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.

 33 Magnus Hirschfeld

Magnus Hirschfeld
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Famous As: Physician, Writer, Psychologist, Screenwriter, Sexologist
Birthdate: May 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: May 15, 1935

 34 Ludwig Beck

Ludwig Beck
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Famous As: Writer, Military personnel
Birthdate: June 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: German
Died: July 20, 1944

 35 Lilli Palmer

Lilli Palmer
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 24, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: January 27, 1986

 36 Günter Grass

Günter Grass
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Died: April 13, 2015

 37 Franz Halder

Franz Halder
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Famous As: Soldier, Writer, Diarist
Birthdate: June 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: German
Died: April 2, 1972

 38 Armin Mueller-Stahl

Armin Mueller-Stahl
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German

 39 Ulrike Meinhof

Ulrike Meinhof
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Famous As: Journalist, Writer, Sociologist
Birthdate: October 7, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Died: May 9, 1976

 40 Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Hans-Hermann Hoppe
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Famous As: Economist, Philosopher, Academic, University teacher, Writer
Birthdate: September 2, 1949
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German

 41 Edgar Rosenberg

Edgar Rosenberg
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Famous As: Film producer
Birthdate: 1925 AD
Nationality: German
Died: August 14, 1987

 42 Christiane F.

Christiane F.
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Famous As: Actor, Writer
Birthdate: May 20, 1962
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German

 43 Johann Gottfried Herder

Johann Gottfried Herder
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: August 25, 1744
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German, Polish
Died: December 18, 1803

 44 Jacob Grimm

Jacob Grimm
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Famous As: Philologist
Birthdate: January 4, 1785
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German
Died: September 20, 1863

 45 Hans Morgenthau

Hans Morgenthau
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Famous As: Judge, Political scientist, Writer, Philosopher, University teacher
Birthdate: February 17, 1904
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: July 19, 1980

 46 Karl Jaspers

Karl Jaspers
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Famous As: Philosopher, Psychiatrist, Physician, Theologian, University teacher, Writer
Birthdate: February 23, 1883
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Swiss, German
Died: February 26, 1969

 47 Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 27, 1836
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: March 9, 1895

 48 Blixa Bargeld

Blixa Bargeld
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Famous As: Actor, Composer, Experimental musician, Singer, Writer, Guitarist
Birthdate: January 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German

 49 Nelly Sachs

Nelly Sachs
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Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Writer
Birthdate: December 10, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German, Swedish
Died: May 12, 1970

 50 Michael Ende

Michael Ende
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: August 28, 1995