* 1899 Dresden
† 1974 München
Erich Kästner was born on February 23, 1899, in Dresden. Kästner studied German, history, philosophy, and theater at the universities in Leipzig, Rostock, and Berlin beginning in 1920. After completing his studies in 1925, he worked as an editor for the "Neue Leipziger Zeitung" before moving to Berlin to work as a professional writer. In Berlin, Kästner quickly made a name for himself with his reviews and essays in periodicals such as the "Vossische Zeitung" and the "Weltbühne" but also with poems, children's books, and acrimonious, critical texts for cabarets. Beginning in 1928, Kästner published a series of poetry volumes that were in the politically engaged style of "Neue Sachlichkeit" (New Objectivity), which he termed "Gebrauchslyrik" ("Poetry of Use"). His novels are just as politically engaged, for example "Fabian. Die Geschichte eines Moralisten" (1931), a humoristic, satirical critique of the accelerating moral decline of Berlin and the emergence of Fascism. In 1929, he began work on his pedagogically inclined children's books, including "Emil und die Detektive" (1929), "Pünktchen und Anton" (1930), and "Das Fliegende Klassenzimmer" (1932), with which he gained an international reputation. Even after the Nazi's came to power and burned his books in 1933, Kästner remained in Germany. In 1943, he was totally forbidden to write. In 1945, he became the director of the feuilleton of the "Neue Zeitung" in Munich. After the war, he also founded several caberets, including "Die Schaubude" and "Die kleine Freiheit," and tried his hand at theater with the grotesque piece "Die Schule der Diktatoren" (1956). From 1957 until 1962, he was the president of the PEN Center of the Federal Republic of Germany. Kästner was honored with many awards during his lifetime, including the Literature Prize of the City of Munich (1956), the Georg Büchner Prize (1957), and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in Luxemburg (1960). Kästner died on July 29, 1974, in Munich.