Born in Bukovina (now part of Romania) Celan saw his father and mother die because of the Nazi take over of their country and their imprisonment in camps. He spent most of his life in Paris writing in German before committing suicide.
Michael Hamburger was born on March 22, 1924 in Berlin, Germany. His family moved to the United Kingdom in 1933 as Adolf Hitler was coming to power. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, where he read modern languages (French and German). During World War II, he was drafted in the army as an infantryman. After the war, he held a series of teaching positions, initially in Germanic studies, on both sides of the Atlantic, including University College London, Reading University, Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, and the University of California at San Diego. He was the author of more than 20 volumes of poetry and many volumes of essays including Flowering Cactus, Collected Poems, and String of Beginnings. He was also a critic and translator of German works. He received numerous translation awards including the Schlegel-Tieck Prize, the Goethe Medal in 1986, and the European Translation Prize in 1990. He died on June 7, 2007 at the age of 83.