Otfried Preussler, author of many much-loved children's books, has died at the age of 89. His best known stories are based on the character of Robber Hotzenplotz. Preussler leaves behind 32 children's classics which have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. "He was loved by generations" was the reaction of fellow-author Paul Maar to the death of his colleague.
Preussler was born in Reichenberg - today Liberec in the Czech Republic - in 1923. He always dreamed of becoming an author and wrote his first stories at the tender age of 12. After completing his high school diploma, Preussler was drafted into the German army in 1942 and was captured by Russian forces.
After the war, Preussler began training to become a teacher. During this time, he also worked as a local reporter and as an author for children's radio. He published his first book in 1951, though he continued to work as an elementary school teacher. He became a full-time writer in 1970.
The author achieved his breakthrough with "The Little Water Sprite." In 1962 he had the idea for a puppet piece, out of which "The Robber Hotzenplotz" was born. Two sequels followed. His stories were translated into almost 60 languages.
Preussler (pictured right) was presented with the German Children's Literature Award in 1963 for his adaptation of "Kocour Mikeš" by the Czech author Josef Lada. A number of European literature prizes followed and in 1993 Preussler was honored with the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) in Germany.
The children's book "Krabat" (1971) was something of a life's work for Preussler who worked on it for ten years. The film adaptation, complete with a cast of German stars, hit cinemas in 2008. David Kross played the title role of the orphaned boy Krabat who becomes an apprentice to a dark sorcerer.
More recently, Preussler's publisher Klaus Willberg announced that a new edition of "The Little Witch" would be released in which terms which are now regarded as racist would be changed, The announcement provoked heated debate about political correctness in Germany.
Preussler believed it was important not to trouble children with the kind of problems adults have. He wanted readers to have fun with his books. The author lived a secluded life together with his wife Annaliese (pictured) in Rosenheim, Bavaria.
Beloved German children's book author Otfried Preussler has died at the age of 89.