Sitor Situmorang was born in North Sumatra in 1924. He was educated at Dutch schools in Sibolga Balige and Tarutung urban centers on the outskirts of the land of the Bataks. He was influenced by oral traditions; Christian hymns and sermons (part of the teachings of the Dutch colonists) and the sound of Malay the language of daily communication in almost every urban center in the last years of the Dutch Indies. At school he was introduced to Western culture and to Dutch literature in particular.
The poets Chairil Anwar Ompu Babiat and Christian hymns were to be Situmorang's life-long companions.
He translated the work of Dutch writers Du Perron the author who emphasised the importance of a writer's moral stance and Nijhoff.
He is commonly associated with the Generation of '45 which came of age during the Japanese ocupation and Indonesian Revolution. Indonesia was recognised as an independent nation in 1949.
An active journalist his first collection of poems Surat Kertas Hijau (Green Paper Letters) was published in 1953 after a three-year stay in Europe.