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Kurt Vonnegut Jr was born on the eleventh day of November 1922 in Indianapolis Indiana He was the grandson of the first licensed architect in Indiana and the son of a wealthy architect The Great Depression however left Vonneguts father out of work and the wealth of the family soon diminished It was at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis that Vonnegut gained his first writing experience During his last two years there he wrote for and was one of the editors of the Shortridge Daily Echo After graduating from Shortridge in 1940 Vonnegut headed for Cornell University His father wanted him to study something that was solid and dependable like science so Vonnegut began his college career as a chemistry and biology major While Vonnegut struggled in his chemistry and biology studies he excelled as a columnist and managing editor for the Cornell Daily Sun But by 1943 Vonnegut was on the verge of being asked to leave Cornell due to his lackluster academic performance He beat Cornell to the punch by enlisting in the army By this point Vonneguts parents had given up on life being unable to adjust to or accept the fact that they were no longer wealthy world travelers On May 14 1944 his mother committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills His father was to remain a fairly isolated man the rest of his days in full retreat from life content to be in his own little world until his death on October 1 1957 On December 14 1944 Vonnegut became a German prisoner of war after being captured in the Battle of the Bulge He was sent to Dresden an open city that produced no war machinery thus it was off-limits to allied bombing He and his fellow POWs were to work in a vitamin-syrup factory On February 13 1945 however allied forces strafed Dresden killing 135000 unprotected civilians Vonnegut and the other POWs survived the bombing as they
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