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Wolfgang Borchert Biography
Wolfgang Borchert (May 20, 1921 - November 20, 1947) was a German author and playwright, whose work was affected by his experience of dictatorship and his service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

Borchert was born in 1921 in the German city of Hamburg, the only child of teacher Fritz Borchert and author Hertha Borchert. Far from being an enthusiastic Nazi, Borchert hated his (compulsory) time in the party's youth wing, the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend), from which (after much effort) he managed to resign. In 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo (Secret State Police) and then released. The same year he reluctantly took up an apprenticeship at a Hamburg bookshop. While at the bookshop, Borchert secretly took acting lessons. In 1941, upon passing his acting examination, he left the apprenticeship and began working at a theatre in Hannover. His nascent theatrical career was cut short, however, by his conscription into the Wehrmacht only a few months later.

Borchert was posted to the Eastern front, where he saw the full horror of the eastern conflict, witnessing the numerous casualties in battle and those sustained due to cold, starvation, and inadequate equipment. When a cut on his hand became infected, Borchert contracted hepatitis. His superiors, accusing him of attempting to evade military service by self-mutilation, had him arrested and placed in isolation. He was convicted of making "statements endangering the country" and sentenced to serve a further six weeks of detention and was then sent back to the Eastern front "to prove himself at the front". There he suffered frostbite and several further bouts of hepatitis, after which he was granted medical leave. On leave he again acted in theatre in the now ravaged city of Hamburg. Following a performance in which he parodied Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Göbbels, Borchert was was arrested and sentenced to nine months in prison. On his release he was again returned to the army, this time serving on the western front. His company surrendered to the French in March 1945. During their transportation to a prisoners of war camp Borchert evaded the guards and escaped, and then walked home to Hamburg (a distance of around 600 kilometres).

Following the war, Borchert's condition continued to worsen. In 1946 doctors told him the damage to his liver would kill him within a year. He resumed his work with the theater, and began writing. He wrote short prose and published a collection of poems Laterne, Nacht und Sterne (Lantern, Night and Stars). In January 1947 he wrote the play Draußen vor der Tür (The Man Outside). Shortly after its publication the play was performed on the radio, meeting with much acclaim. Later in 1947 Wolfgang Borchert entered a hepatic sanitorium in the Swiss city of Basel, where he continued with short stories and wrote his manifesto against war Dann gibt es nur eins! (Then there is only one thing!) shortly before his death.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Wolfgang Borchert.