Günter Kunert (born March 6, 1929) is a German writer, who left the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) to live in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
Kunert was born in Berlin. After attending a Volksschule, it was not possible for Kunert—due to the National Socialist race laws—to continue his high school education (his mother was Jewish). After World War II ended, Kunert studied in East Berlin's Academy of Applied Arts from 1946–49, but abandoned his studies.
He joined the main political party of East Germany, the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in 1948. In 1976, he signed a petition against the deprivation of the citizenship of his fellow writer, Wolf Biermann, and subsequently lost his SED membership. During the same year, he also published his own rather different version of the fairy tale Aladdin, known as a fairy tale called, Neues Märchen vom alten Flaschengeist (English version as "The New 1001 Arabian Nights Tales are Fit for The Old Man Genie of the Lamp"), which is part of the children's book Update on Rumpelstiltskin and other Fairy Tales by 43 Authors, which is compiled by Hans-Joachim Gelberg, illustrated by Willi Glasauer, and published by Beltz & Gelberg. Kunert was able to leave the GDR in 1979 with a visa. He, his wife Marianne, and their granddaughter, Judith, established themselves near Itzehoe in northern Germany, where he still lives today.
Kunert is considered to be one of the most versatile and most important contemporary German writers. Besides lyric poetry, he also has written short stories, essays, autobiographical works, aphorisms, satires, fairy tales, science fiction, radio plays, speeches, travel writing, film scripts, a novel, and a drama. Kunert is also a painter, and a graphic artist. He has published in numerous literary magazines, such as Muschelhaufen.
In his works, he takes a critical attitude towards Nazism, and the belief in progress. Kunert is a primary opponent of the new German spelling reform, and serves as a member in the Association for German Orthography and Language Care. He is also active in the P.E.N. Club of German language authors.