On the subject of dead German writers and puerile prejudices, and that conversation linked below in which Dennis Loy Johnson talks about all the different dead German writers people have been alerting him to since he re-discovered Hans Fallada - I can't help thinking of Anna Seghers.
Now while I was a rebellious proto-feminist student taught by a German faculty made up entirely of men (as opposed to the student body, which was 95% female and 50% bored), I discovered Anna Seghers. This was on my year abroad at Berlin's Humboldt University, four years after reunification. At that time, most of the German literature staff had taught in the GDR, and the libraries and reading lists reflected that to some extent, although it was actually an exciting time in retrospect because they were finally able to teach what they wanted.
And a number of them still wanted to teach Anna Seghers. Having been starved of female role models back in the UK, my main criteria for choosing courses in Berlin were whether they had the word "Frauen" in the title and whether they were taught by women. I ended up reading a heck of a lot of Anna Seghers during that year and writing two papers on her work (out of three - my home university didn't want to put us under too much strain).
Anna Seghers was a communist writer from a middle-class Jewish background. She fled to France and from there to Mexico (and was refused entry at Ellis Island - you can read her FBI files somewhere or other). It was while in exile that she wrote her most astounding stuff. Her 1942 resistance novel Das siebte Kreuz was actually first published in English translation, allegedly selling 319,000 copies in the first twelve days, spawning a comic version, a film with Spencer Tracy, etc. Later came Transit, an excellent look at the dreadful lives of German exiles in Marseilles, waiting and waiting and waiting for exit visas, entry visas and transit visas as their money dwindles away. Probably my favourite is her 1946 short story "Der Ausflug der toten Mädchen", a rare personal piece in which the narrator recalls her former schoolfriends and considers what became of them under the Nazis.
Seghers returned to Berlin a year later and became, essentially, an East German cultural apparatchik. Which was of course fantastic for annoying my British professors. Her writing became very propagandistic (the joys of tractor-driving and attending meetings stand out in my mind), although more recent studies have found hidden criticism of the system. And she played a rather ignominious role in the cases of her publisher Walter Janka and the singer Wolf Biermann, never actually speaking out in public against their persecution by the authorities.
Then she grew old gracefully in a flat in the East Berlin suburbs, which you can visit, and got rather experimental in her old age. Science fiction, Caribbean settings - she was plainly wishing she could be elsewhere.
Now if we're going to go digging up dead German writers, Anna Seghers really ought to be one of them. She had a heck of a lot to say about the rise of fascism and resistance against it, complicity in it, and so on. Die Toten bleiben jung (1949), for instance, which the East German authorities didn't really want her to publish - while very much of its time in the sense that the communists are all perfect - is a fascinating fictional analysis that spans various classes from 1918 to 1945. Great structure too. Or someone could put together a lovely anthology of her very good short stories.
Translated short stories by a dead German communist woman - bound to be a bestseller.