Heinrich Böll (1917-85) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972. He was one of the most outspoken of literary figures, “The Conscience of Germany” if not the West, in speaking up on the hypocrisies of both denazification and the wonder of German economic recovery during the 1950s. A wounded soldier himself, Böll was a champion of individual rights over the authority of the State. The year he won the Nobel Prize, there were also calls to revoke the award following Böll’s article in Der Spiegel in defense of the constitutional rights or a terrorist group.
Martin D. Black is the former academic officer of the Deutsches Haus, New York University, and is presently an academic adviser living in Pittsburgh, PA.