The most important and most tragic figure in the German Trümmerliteratur
He was born on May 20th, 1921 in Hamburg
. Already in school he starts writing. In 1939 he begins an apprenticeship
as a book seller, but takes acting classes
in parallel. In 1940 he gets arrested by the Gestapo
, but the charges have to be dropped. In March 1941 he joins the "Reisetheater Hannover
". The happiness does not last long - in June 1941 he is sent to the Russian
front. He contracts icterus
, and he does not take the cruel battles well. Allegedly he injures himself to be sent home, but after some weeks in a Nuremberg
prison he is sent back to the eastern front. There he has to spend the next two years under harsh conditions, while his health deteriorates.
Shortly before he was to be sent assigned to a front theater, he gets denunciated again for a parody
and sentenced to several months in jail. In September 1944 he is released and sent to Jena
. His company is taken captive by the French
in March 1945, but he manages to flee and walks the 600 km back to Hamburg
. There he tries to resume his earlier life, but his sickness gets worse and he is finally admitted to hospital
in spring 1946.
In a frantic race against death
, he writes as much as he can. All in all 24 prose texts, eg "Die Hundeblume", about his experience
s in jail. He also releases "Laterne, Nacht und Sterne", a collection of his poem
s from the years 1940 to 1945. In January 1947 he writes the play
"Draußen vor der Tür" about a soldier who finds no place in the civilian society. It becomes a great success
. In the following months he writes another 22 short stories. Well known are "An diesem Dienstag", "Die traurigen Geranien", "Dann gibt es nur eins", "Das Brot" and "Nachts schlafen die Ratten doch".
Friends finally manage to send him to special hospital in Basel
, but that does not help either. Wolfgang Borchert dies on November 20th, 1947.