Student, Hamburg University. Student, Freiburg im Breisgau University. Doctor of Philosophy (honorary), Freiburg im Breisgau University.
In the early 1940s, Jens joined the NSDAP. During World War II, he earned a doctorate in Freiburg with a work about Sophocles' tragedy and habilitated at age 26 with the work Tacitus und die Freiheit (Tacitus and Freedom) at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen. That year, he had his breakthrough with the novel Nein. Die Welt der Angeklagten.
One distinguishing characteristic of his literary work is that he interprets current events by looking back at the past. From 1965 to 1988, Jens held the chair for General Rhetoric at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, which was created in order to keep him at the university. Under the pseudonym Momos, he wrote television reviews for Die Zeit.
From 1976 to 1982, he was president of the International PEN center in Germany. From 1989 to 1997, he was president of the Akademie der Künste, and afterwards he was the honorary president. From 1990 to 1995, he was chairman of the Martin-Niemöller-Foundation.
Jens suffered from dementia, which began to manifest in 2004. He died in 2013 in Tübingen.
(Walter Jens schildert hier den Untergang des „letzten Ind...)
(Hofmannsthal Und Die Griechen German Edition)
[Leibniz Society of Sciences. Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung]
He denied having applied for membership actively and claims that he had become a member automatically because he was a member of the Hitler Youth and that he never received a membership card. Jens was a member of the Turnerschaft Akademischer Turnbund.
From 1950 on, Jens was a member of the Group 47. From 1961 to 1993 member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin (West), Section literature. From 1986 to 1990 corresponding member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin (East), Department of Literature and Language Maintenance.
From 1990 to 1993 Ordinary Member of the Academy of Arts, Berlin (East), Section Literature and Language Maintenance. Since 1993 member of the Academy of Arts in Berlin, Literature section. Member of PEN, the German Academy for Language and Literature, Darmstadt, the Free Academy of the Arts, Hamburg, and the German Academy of Performing Arts, Frankfurt am Main.
Married Inge Puttfarcken, January 1, 1951. 2 children.