Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut,Jr.(1922 –2007) was an American writer. His books include Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five,and Breakfast of Champions,which blend satire,gallows humor,and science fiction. He was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union,and honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

Medic has obtained the Official Military Personnel Records of Kurt Vonnegut from the National Archives. Unfortunately (and ironically) most records pertaining to Vonnegut were destroyed in the July 12, 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis,MO. The remaining records are here. A brief account of the fire is here.

While a student at Cornell,Vonnegut enlisted in the Army and studied engineering,but was reassigned to the 106th Infantry Division during the Allied invasion of France.

Vonnegut was captured during the Battle of the Bulge. He survived the fire bombing of Dresden in an underground meat locker converted to a POW prison,named Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five) by the German guards. Vonnegut said the attack caused “utter destruction” and “carnage unfathomable.”

Liberated by Red Army soldiers in 1945,Vonnegut received the Purple Heart for what he called a “ludicrously negligible wound.” His war experience had a profound influence on the stories he wrote.

Obituary in The Economist

Indiana Historical Society