Böll's first major autobiographical work is published, "What's to Become of the Boy?" On 10 October, Böll addresses up to 300,000 people at a peace rally in Bonn, protesting NATO’s decision to deploy a greater number of nuclear weapons in West Germany.
Böll campaigns against the conditions in Poland, following the military coup there. The Böll family moves to Merten, near Cologne; Böll's son Raimund dies. Böll is awarded the honorary citizenship of Cologne.
In an open letter to the Soviet authorities, Böll demands the release of Andrei Sakharov. Together with other writers he campaigns against the US government's attempts to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Despite poor health, Böll takes part in the blockade of US barracks in Germany in protest against NATO's plans to deploy additional nuclear missiles. During West Germany’s federal election campaign, Böll comes out in support of the Green Party.
The French minister for culture, Jack Lang, makes Heinrich Böll a "Commandeur" in the "Ordre des Arts et des Lettres".
Böll is awarded the Danish Jens Bjørneboe Price and donates the price money to the organisation "A Ship for Vietnam".
On the 40th anniversary of the capitulation of the Wehrmacht, Böll's "Letter to my Sons - or Four Bicycles" is published. Publication of his last novel “Women in a River Landscape”.
In early July, Böll has to undergo renewed surgery. He is released from hospital on 15 July, knowing that he will have to have more surgery. On the morning of 16 July Böll dies in his house in Langenbroich (Eifel). He is buried on 19 July in Bornheim-Merten near Cologne.