Knobloch was born in Dresden, the son of a photographer. When his father became unemployed the family moved to Berlin in 1935. He started a commercial training with a publishing business in 1942, but in 1943 he was conscripted into the army and was sent as a soldier to France.
He deserted from the army near St. Lo in July 1944, shortly after the Normandy landings of the anti-German coalition armies. Knobloch spent the next four or so years as a Prisoner of War in the US and in Scotland. In the USA he gained hands-on experience in Alabama of the agricultural business (maize, sugar cane, ground-nuts/pea-nuts, tomatoes, cotton), in Pennsylvania, of industrial work, and in Virginia of timber logging and garbage disposal. As a result of his transfer to Scotland in 1946 he was able to add road construction, fertiliser production, sheep wool processing and seed research to his list of experiences, and he also undertook a language course, receiving a "cum laude" (with distinction) diploma in English.
He was able to return to Berlin in February 1948. In 1948 he volunteered to work for the Berliner Zeitung and became a script editor for a press picture publisher. In 1949 he joined the new country's recently created ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED / Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands), and in 1953 he co-founded and joined East German's new mass-circulation Wochenpost (newspaper), taking responsibility for "puzzles, mental recreation and humour" ("Rätsel, Denksport und Humor"). Work on the Wochenpost quickly became a principal vehicle for Knobloch's professional success over more than three decades. He served as its Culture Editor from 1957 till 1965, and between 1968 and 1988 contributed a weekly Feuilleton-format opinion column .
Between 1954 and 1960 he undertook a correspondence course in Journalism with the Karl Marx University (as it was then known) in Leipzig, ending up with a Diploma in Journalism. In 1962 he became a member of the (East) German Writers' Association.
In 1953 Heinz Knobloch married Helga Leutloff, then aged 24. The marriage produced a daughter and a son born respectively in 1957 and 1965. Knobloch died on 24 July 2003 in Pankow (Berlin), but the wish he had originally published in his book "Alte und neue Berliner Grabsteine" ("Berlin gravestones, old and new) was respected, and his body was taken back to his birth city of Dresden for burial.
After his death in 2003 the "Freundeskreis Heinz Knobloch" ("Heinz Knobloch Circle of Friends") was created, in order to take care of his legacy and honour his works.
Above all Heinz Knobloch was known in Germany, for his Feuilletons, rediscovering and making his own a half-remembered journalistic genre which had become popular in France the early nineteenth century. The flexibility of the feilleton form makes it hard to define succinctly, but the principal ingredients of Knoblich's feuilletons are nevertheless familiar enough to English speaking readers. Over four decades he contributed more than 1,600 of these insightful sometimes whimsical and relatively compact opinion pieces, often triggered by some passing personal experience. Most of them appeared between 1958 and 1978 in the weekly newspaper Wochenpost under the by-line "Mit beiden Augen" ("With both eyes [open]"). The newspaper had a circulation which for much of the time exceeded 1.3 million giving rise to a very large readership for Knobloch's column, and indicating that he was able to soften any implicit criticisms of the single-party state and its plethora of agencies with sufficient charm and subtlety to remain "within the lines" of official sensitivities. The feuilletons that appeared in Wochenpost were illustrated by the graphic artist and illustrator Wolfgang Würfel, and were subsequently reproduced in a succession of collected volumes which comprise the majority of the books published under Knobloch's name. At the same time as making a living with his pen by writing modern feuilletons, Knobloch researched and found new admirers for hitherto largely forgotten nineteenth and early twentieth century users of the genre in Berlin such as Julius Rodenberg and Victor Auburtin.
He also produced intensively researched, accurately presented and illuminating biographies of other individuals from German history many of whom had disappeared from the historical mainstream during the turbulent middle decades of the twentieth century. His book "Herr Moses in Berlin" ("Mr Moses in Berlin") portrays the eighteenth century Berlin philosopher (and composer's grandfather) Moses Mendelssohn. In "Meine liebste Mathilde" ("My dearest Matilda") Knobloch tells of Mathilde Jacob, Rosa Luxemburg's the longstanding secretary and confidante/companion of who had met her death in a concentration camp. These books were popular not withstanding the description of Knobloch by one critic as a "Hobby-Historiker" ("Hobby Historian").
Beyond simple biography, "Der beherzte Reviervorsteher" ("The Courageous District Overseer") recounted the story of the synagogue burning thwarted in Berlin's Oranienburger Straße "Oranienburg Street" during the Kristallnacht pogroms of November 1938 as a result of the courage of a police officer called Wilhelm Krützfeld.
"Der arme Epstein" ("For poor [Sally] Epstein") shed light on the death of Horst Wessel, a man whose name would have been known to every German of Knobloch's generation thanks to the Horst Wessel song which the government had designated a parallel national anthem in Germany during the Nazi years.1963: Literature Prize of the Free German Trade Union Federation
1965: Heinrich Heine Prize from the Culture Ministry
1979: Goethe Prize from the City of Berlin
1980: Louis Fürnberg Prize
1986: Lion-Feuchtwanger Prize
1986: National Prize of East Germany
1994: Moses Mendelssohn Prize from the Berlin Senate
1998: Order of Merit of Berlin
On 3 March 2005 the piece of green space in front of the row of houses which for many years had included Knobloch's home was renamed "Heinz-Knobloch-Platz". More recently, on 24 July 2013, a memorial tablet was placed on the outside of his former home in Berlin-Pankow.