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Author Konsalik Dies at 78

October 3, 1999

WALS, Austria (AP) _ Heinz G. Konsalik, one of Germany’s most popular postwar novelists whose books have sold more than 80 million copies worldwide, has died at age 78.

Konsalik died at his home in Wals, near Salzburg, Austria, on Saturday, the town’s mayor, Ludwig Bieringer, said Sunday.

Born Heinz Guenther in Cologne, Germany, he studied theater and literature as well as medicine _ knowledge that later showed up in his novels. He also was influenced, he later said, by his experience during World War II as a war reporter on the eastern front, where he was seriously wounded.

He published his first book in 1953 under the last name Konsalik, his mother’s maiden name. He rocketed to fame in 1956 with ``The Doctor of Stalingrad,″ a war story that sold more than 3.5 million copies in Germany and was made into a movie.

Over the next decades, he turned out at least one book a year, sometimes as many as four. While reviewers dismissed his work, Konsalik said he didn’t take the criticism seriously.

``The secret of my success is that I write like my reader thinks and speaks,″ he once said. ``I’ll never get a Nobel Prize.″

Others of his more than 150 novels made into movies included ``Battalion 999″ and ``The Damned of the Taiga.″ His books have been translated into 42 languages, including English.

Konsalik was separated since 1988 from his wife of 40 years, Elsbeth, with whom he had two daughters. Funeral arrangements were not immediately available.

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