'Das Boot' author Buchheim dies

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Captain
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Nov 9, 2005
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The author of the German war novel "Das Boot", Lothar-Guenther Buchheim, has died, his spokeswoman said on Friday. He was 89.

An artist, art collector and director of his own museum, Buchheim will be best remembered for the 1971 novel that presented a new perspective on the Nazi era by detailing the claustrophobic life on board a war-time submarine, or "U-Boot".

In 1981, director Wolfgang Petersen turned the book into a six-hour film, which at the time was the most expensive movie in German history.

Unlike Hollywood war films, with their stereotyped Nazi characters, Petersen portrayed the universal suffering of war and refused to glorify either those on board of their surroundings.

Buchheim used his experiences as an officer on submarines, destroyers and mine-sweepers during World War Two as the basis for several works, including "Das Boot."

Returning to Germany as the war came to an end, he made a career writing art books, including works about Expressionists Max Beckmann, Otto Mueller and Pablo Picasso.

In 2001, he opened the "Museum der Phantasie" (Museum of the Imagination) in Bernried, Bavaria, in which he displayed a collection of mainly German Expressionist paintings that he had acquired before the war when such art was seen as degenerate.

German President Horst Koehler praised Buchheim's foresight in collecting the out-of-favor works and also his post-war efforts to rehabilitate modern art among Germans whose sense of artistic merit had been moulded by the Nazis.

"Earlier than others, he recognized the value of Expressionism, compiled an important collection and finally made it accessible to the public," Koehler said in a letter to the author's wife.

Buchheim died of heart failure on Thursday evening.
 

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