One of the more provocative things that Adorno said was:
nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch
(After Auschwitz, to write a poem is barbaric, 1951)
of Adorno's thesis
was left open and much debated. It was obvious that the times were extreme and horrible. A good deal of the post-war literature
focused on the fact that beauty
and certain forms of creative expression
had been pushed almost to the edge of existence
Adorno then took this one step further and posited that to write poetry was almost a crime, seeing as how the form was intended to represent highly intense emotions and thoughts succinctly, and to do so during times of such pain would just increase the suffering (there are, of course, many other interpretations -- entire books full in fact -- this is just a taste!)
But, was he trying to prevent the other writers of the day from writing poems, was this prohibition (the German word "Verbot" is a good deal stronger than its translation "prohibition")? Or was his thesis merely provocation?
In any case, the decades following the now (in)famous expression saw several conferences with this topic and attendees like Nobel-prize winner Günter Grass. The debate raged on, and in the end, rather than prohibiting anything, the thesis opened an (int)national discussion which most likely helped in healing. Poets wrote about Auschwitz, about life after Auschwitz1, and about the fact that they were writing about life after Auschwitz, just to spite Adorno2.
1 An example of a poem agreeing with Adorno: Frage (Question)
An example of a poem against his thesis: Nach Auschwitz (After Auschwitz)
2 An attack on Adorno: "won wem stammt eigentlich das Zitat 'Nach Auschwitz kann man keinen Adorno mehr lesen?'" (who does the quote come from anyway that "after Auschwitz, one can't read anymore Adorno?") - Peter Rühmkorf
3 "Arbeit macht frei" (Work makes free) was the inscription on every Nazi work camp.
Note: all translations my own