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Charles Bukowski was born as Heinrich Karl Bukowski in , , to Heinrich (Henry) Bukowski and Katharina (née Fett). His paternal grandfather Leonard had immigrated to America from the German Empire in the 1880s. In , Leonard met Emilie Krause, who had emigrated from , Germany (today Gdańsk, ). They married and settled in . He worked as a carpenter, setting up his own very successful construction company. The couple had four children, including Heinrich (Henry), Charles Bukowski's father.

Henry Charles Bukowski (born Heinrich Karl Bukowski; August 16, 1920 – March 9, 1994) was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

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Bukowski's parents met in in Germany following . The poet's father was German-American and a sergeant in the serving in Germany following Germany's defeat in 1918. He had an affair with Katharina, a German friend's sister, and she became pregnant. Charles Bukowski repeatedly claimed to be born out of wedlock, but Andernach marital records indicate that his parents married one month before his birth. Afterwards, Henry Bukowski became a building contractor, set to make great financial gains in the aftermath of the war, and after two years moved the family to . However, given the crippling reparations being required of Germany, which led to a stagnant economy and high levels of inflation, Henry Bukowski was unable to make a living, so he decided to move the family to the United States. On April 23, 1923, they sailed from to , , where they settled.