Over the years, I had something in principle against autobiographical writing altogether because memory plays tricks on us, and we also tend to reinvent ourselves. But there comes an age when one begins to observe life, and there are things that need time to mature, also in terms of literary form.

Lies that do not hurt, which are different from lies that protect oneself or hurt another person. That is not my business. But the truth is mostly very boring, and you can help it along with lies. There is no harm in that.

Art is accusation, expression, passion. Art is a fight to the finish between black charcoal and white paper.

I'm always astonished by a forest. It makes me realise that the fantasy of nature is much larger than my own fantasy. I still have things to learn.

We already have the statistics for the future: the growth percentages of pollution, overpopulation, desertification. The future is already in place.

I have found that words that are loaded with pathos and create a seductive euphoria are apt to promote nonsense.

Auschwitz speaks against even a right to self-determination that is enjoyed by all other peoples because one of the preconditions for the horror, besides other, older urges, was a strong and united Germany.

Homeland is something one becomes aware of only through its loss.

If we take into account the existence of our planet, we have to recognise that we are guests that spend a short and very determined period in this world, and all we leave behind is nuclear waste.

No idea stays pure. Even the flowering of art isn't pure. And the sun has spots.

I was brought up Catholic and know the stench of the Catholic Church. I moved away from religion early, but the impression remains.

I have heard my fill of hurtful words. I think it's especially egregious when citizens like me, who point out abuses in their country, are referred to as 'do-gooders.' This is how a phrase that can be used to stop an argument dead becomes part of common usage.

With drawing, I am acutely aware of creating something on a sheet of paper. It is a sensual act, which you cannot say about the act of writing. In fact, I often turn to drawing to recover from the writing.

My sister and I did not have our own rooms, or even a place to ourselves. In the living room, beyond the two windows, was a little corner where my books were kept, and other thing - my watercolors and so on. Often I had to imagine the things I needed. I learned very early to read amidst noise.

For me, writing, drawing, and political activism are three separate pursuits; each has its own intensity. I happen to be especially attuned to and engaged with the society in which I live. Both my writing and my drawing are invariably mixed up with politics, whether I want them to be or not.

I belonged to the generation that grew up under National Socialism, and was blinded and led astray - and allowed itself to be led astray.

Memory likes to play hide-and-seek, to crawl away. It tends to hold forth, to dress up, often needlessly. Memory contradicts itself; pedant that it is, it will have its way.

I was assigned to the Waffen-SS but was never involved in any crime. Besides, I always felt the need to write about my experiences in a larger context one day. This has only developed recently, now that I have overcome my inner aversion to writing an autobiography in the first place, specifically one having to do with my younger years.

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.

I have seen and drawn dying, poisoned worlds. I published a book of drawings called 'Death of Wood' about one such world, on the border between the Federal Republic of Germany and what was then still the German Democratic Republic.

Our minds aren't bound by a chronological corset. When thinking and dreaming, past, present and future are mixed up. That's also possible for a writer.

How do we prevent Iran developing an atomic bomb, when, on the American side, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not recognised as a war crime?

Believing: it means believing in our own lies. And I can say that I am grateful that I got this lesson very early.

My relationship with Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm reaches far back into my childhood. I grew up with Grimm's fairy tales. I even saw a theater production of 'Tom Thumb' during Advent at the State Theater in Danzig, which my mother took me to see.

Prose, poetry, and drawings stand side by side in a very democratic way in my work.

A writer must face up to the test of reality, including political reality, and that can't be done if he keeps his distance. A literary style cultivated like a hothouse plant may show a certain artificial purity, but it won't really be pure.

I think it's a shame that we have 'Bild' like you have the 'Sun'. Now serious newspapers like 'FAZ' and 'Spiegel' use a bit of the tone of 'Bild.' This is terrible.

I had an uncle who was a postal official at the Polish post office in Gdansk. He was one of the defenders of the Polish postal service and, after it capitulated, was shot by the Germans under the provisions of martial law. Suddenly he was no longer a member of the family, and we were no longer allowed to play with his children.

Everybody knows how fallible memory can sometimes be. You remember certain fragments precisely, but as soon as you try to join the fragments together, for a story, there is a certain - not falsification, but a shifting.

Melancholy has ceased to be an individual phenomenon, an exception. It has become the class privilege of the wage earner, a mass state of mind that finds its cause wherever life is governed by production quotas.

As a child I was a great liar. Fortunately my mother liked my lies. I promised her marvelous things.

The European Union arose on an economic foundation, and it turns out that even this is not a solid base. Cultural identity has been neglected.

Often I had to imagine the things I needed. I learned very early to read amidst noise. And so I started writing and drawing at an early age.

If work and leisure are soon to be subordinated to this one utopian principle - absolute busyness - then utopia and melancholy will come to coincide: an age without conflict will dawn, perpetually busy - and without consciousness.

Art is uncompromising and life is full of compromises.

I have often supported Israel, I have often visited the country and want the country to exist and at last find peace with its neighbours.

How did it happen that an enlightened country like Germany was pulled into Nazism? That question has occupied me since 'The Tin Drum,' my first book. The story also shows that we can never know how a person's life will unfold; there is no guarantee that a person will do what is right and avoid what is not right.

In general, I agree with Jacob Grimm and feel that we ought to permit changes and uncontrolled growth in language. Even though that also allows potentially threatening new words to develop, language needs the chance to constantly renew itself.

People change with time. There are things that happened to a person in his childhood and years later they seem to him alien and strange. I am trying to decipher that child. Sometimes he is a stranger to me. When you think about when you were 14, don't you feel a certain alienation?

What I do is sometimes - at least in Germany - met with wounding campaigns. I always face the question: should I grow myself a thick skin and ignore it, or should I let myself be wounded? I've decided to be wounded, since, if I grew a thick skin, there are other things I wouldn't feel any more.

I remember when I was writing 'The Tin Drum,' I had the totally misguided idea of giving Oskar Matzerath a sister, and he just wouldn't have it. There was no space for a sister, yet I had the character of the sister in my head. In fact I used her in later novels, in 'Cat and Mouse' and 'Dog Years,' Tulla Pokriski.

Even bad books are books and therefore sacred.

I did not volunteer for the Waffen SS, but was, as were thousands of my year group, conscripted. I did not then know as a 17-year-old that it was a criminal unit. I thought it was an elite unit.

I don't believe in writing at night because it comes too easily. When I read it in the morning it's not good. I need daylight to begin. Between nine and ten o'clock I have a long breakfast with reading and music.

Art is so wonderfully irrational, exuberantly pointless, but necessary all the same. Pointless and yet necessary, that's hard for a puritan to understand.

I catch myself judging myself as that 13-year-old boy, who, of course, rightfully points out that he is only a child. And my membership - well, I was drafted into the Waffen-SS and didn't exactly volunteer, which was just as idiotic. I wanted to be on the submarines and then ended up with the Waffen-SS.

We cannot get by Auschwitz. We should not even try, as great as the temptation is, because Auschwitz belongs to us, is branded into our history, and - to our benefit! - has made possible an insight that could be summarized as, 'Now we finally know ourselves.'

Writers know that sometimes things are there in the drawer for decades before they finally come out and you are capable of writing about them.

Everyone is born into a certain era. I wouldn't want to see anyone faced with the circumstances that prevailed at the time, when there were few or no alternatives.