Frank Schirrmacher

Frank Schirrmacher

Frank Schirrmacher (born September 5, 1959) is a German journalist, doctored literature expert and essayist, writer, and since 1994 co-publisher of the national German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ).

After studying Germanistics, English studies, and philosophy in Heidelberg and Cambridge, Schirrmacher joined the FAZ as editor of the Feuilleton in 1985. In 1988, he received his doctorate for a work about Franz Kafka at the University of Siegen. In 1989, he succeeded Marcel Reich-Ranicki as the director of the editorial staff "Literature and literary life" and in 1994 he succeeded Joachim Fest as one of the five publishers of the newspaper, responsible for the Feuilleton, Science and other parts. Schirrmacher supports expanding this section to include science. Popular culture has also been dealt with more since Schirrmacher has been with the FAZ.

Schirrmacher has always managed to determine, what controversial topics are discussed in the German public, the debates about genetic engineering and brain research and about the low birth rates in Germany and Europe, for example. Newsweek named him one of the leading intellectuals,Ray Kurzweil calls Schirrmacher one of the "big thinkers". []

As the press boomed around 2000, Schirrmacher expanded the feuilleton a lot, also recruiting journalists from other newspapers. A few years later, he was, however, forced to reduce the number of pages of the feuilleton and to lay off employees, the first time this was done in the history of the FAZ. In 2001 he was among the founders of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung", an influential Sunday newspaper, that within 3 yearchs raised circulation to more than 1 million readers (2007).

Frank Schirrmacher's roasting of Martin Walser's novel "Tod eines Kritikers" in 2002 caused a stir in the German press. Schirrmacher claimed the book contained anti-Semitic passages. He had reviewed the book before it came out, so the publishers changed the novel before publishing it, the first time a book review had this effect in German history.

In 2004, Schirrmacher published the bestselling "Das Methusalem-Komplott", a book, published in 14 languages selling more than 1 Million copies in Germany, prognosticating the ageing of society as a result of low birth rates and appealing for an "uprising of the old". He received a Goldene Feder, an important award in Germany, for this book. In 2006, "Minimum" was published, which became a bestseller too. The titel refers to Schirrmacher's analysis of the effects of the dissolving of the family as the smallest cell of society and the resulting diminution of social relationships to a minimum. To prove the superiority of the family, he cites the event of the Donner Party, resorted to cannibalism. Critics claimed that he exaggerated the statistics and that he supported a conservative view of the family. Through a clever campaign, which included publishing some passages in Der Spiegel and Bild-Zeitung, the book caused another medial debate about the topic.

In 2006 Nobel-laureate Günter Grass in an interview with Schirrmacher admitted to have served in the Waffen-SS as a young man. Grass made the admission in a conversation with Frank Schirrmacher referring to his new autobiography, "Peeling Onions". said he was drafted at the age of 17 into the Waffen-SS - the combat force of the SS - in the final months of World War II [] . The interview stirred up a worldwide debate and forced Grass publisher to publish the book earlier than intended.

Schirrmacher got many prizes and honors (International Corinne Book Prize), in 2007 he was awarded the "Kulturpreis Deutscher Sprache" which is among the highest cultural prices in the German speaking world.


*German|Frank Schirrmacher|June 17, 2006

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