Picture taken on February 2, 1973, shows German novelist Guenter Grass (L) and German writer Heinrich Boell in a studio of German public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. AFP PHOTO/DPA/MANFRED REHM
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German novelist Guenter Grass, the Nobel Prize-winning author of "The Tin Drum," an epic treatment of the Nazi era, died Monday at the age of 87, his publishers said.A broad-shouldered man with a drooping moustache, Grass spurned the German tradition of keeping a cool intellectual distance, insisting that a writer's duty was to be at the frontline of moral and political debate.Grass opposed hasty reunification after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and hoped a new generation of German authors from the east would nourish their work on "western arrogance".Grass had a stormy relationship with the center-left Social Democratic Party, criticizing it when it joined a conservative-led government in the 1960s but campaigning for Willy Brandt, the party's first post-war chancellor and champion of east-west detente, in the 1970s.Not even 12 when war broke out, Grass was forced like other youngsters to join paramilitary organizations, and entered the Hitler Youth at 14 .When Germany surrendered in 1945, Grass was briefly an American prisoner.
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