1917 Heinrich Böll is born the sixth child of Viktor Böll, master carpenter and woodcarver, and his wife Maria, in Cologne on the 21st of December. Wartime conditions including hunger are at their worst.
1921 The family moves from the southern part of Cologne to the outlying district of Raderberg.
1924 Böll begins elementary school in Köln-Raderthal.
1928 Böll enters the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, a well-regarded school in Cologne based on the classics.
1929 The Great Depression brings the collapse of a small bank for craftsmen in which Böll's father had invested. The Bölls have to sell their house in Raderberg and move back to the south-city district Cologne. In the subsequent years, the family knows visits to pawnbrokers, bailiffs knocking on the door, and the seizure of household goods as part of everyday life.
1933 After Hitler becomes Chancellor, the Nazis spread terror in Cologne. The Böll family discusses political events frequently and openly. Böll participates in clandestine meetings of Catholic youth groups held in their apartment.
1936 Dated manuscripts in Böll's papers, including novel fragments, short stories, and poems - show that he starts writing at this time.