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1921 Hamburg
1947 Basel

Wolfgang Borchert

The German writer Wolfgang Borchert was born in Hamburg on May 20, 1921. At the age of only 15, Wolfgang Borchert wrote his first poems. Upon his parents' request he began an apprenticeship as a book dealer in 1939. Alongside his apprenticeship, Borchert took acting lessons under Helmuth Gmelin. After Wolfgang Borchert successfully completed his acting examination, he stopped his apprenticeship as a book dealer in 1940. He was drafted into the military and in June 1941 had to give up his commitment at the theater "Landesbühne Osthannover", which he had taken on in March 1941.
From July to November 1941 Wolfgang Borchert was trained as an armored infantry rifleman in the third "Panzer-Nachrichten-Ersatz-Abteilung 81". In his first deployment at the front in 1942 Wolfgang Borchert was injured, suffered from diphtheria and was transfered to the military hospital in Schwabach. He was indicted on the suspicion of having self-inflicted his shotgun injury. His trial was conducted after three months of solitary confinement in the Nuremberg remand prison.
Capital punishment was demanded, but the court acquitted Wolfgang Borchert. Borchert remained in remand custody for his violation of the treachery law and was sentenced to 6 weeks intensive detention. Subsequently, in late 1942, he was once more deployed to fight in the replacement battalion for his regiment of Saalfeld, he was sent to the garrison in Jena and deployed as a messenger in the tank battles around Toropez. Wolfgang Borchert was once more taken to hospital for frostbite on his feet, where he contracted epidemic typhoid and yellow fever. In early 1943 he was transfered to the epidemic control hospital in Smolensk and then to the reserve hospital Elend in the Harz region. In August 1943 Borchert was given leave and went to the destroyed city of Hamburg, where he appeared in cabaret pieces at the "Bronzekeller". In October that year he had to return to his company. In December 1943 Wolfgang Borchert was arrested for his cabaret performance. In early 1944 Borchert was taken from Jena to the reprimand prison in Berlin-Moabit. There, Wolfgang Borchert was tried in front of the central military court on allegations of corrupting the Wehrmacht. His sentences consisted of nine months imprisonment and a subsequent deployment to the front, to prove his valor in the fight against the enemy. His unit surrendered to the French troops in Frankfurt am Main in 1945.
On the way to the prisoner-of-war camp, Wolfgang Borchert managed to escape. On May 10, 1945 Borchert arrived at his parents' in Hamburg, weakened by his long walk home. After the war, Wolfgang Borchert began to work in the theater and cabaret business. At the Hamburg "Schauspielhaus" he was assistant director for a production of Lessing's "Nathan der Weise". He wrote texts for the play "Janmaaten im Hafen", and he performed a role in it himself.
Borchert was a co-founder of the backyard theater "Die Komödie" in Hamburg Altona, but his bad health became more and more of an impediment for his ambitions as an artist. Works like the tale "Die Hundeblume", approximately 20 pieces in prose, a collection of poetry entitled "Laterne, Nacht und Sterne" (between 1940-45) and his last Expressionist work "Draußen vor der Tür" followed.
On November 20, 1947 Wolfgang Borchert died at a rehabilitation center in Basel, Switzerland after a prolonged illness. After his death, "Draußen vor der Tür" premiered as an audio play in the Hamburger Kammerspiele and later his work "Traurige Geranien" was published posthumously. Wolfgang Borchert is one of the most famous authors of the so-called Trümmerliteratur in the destroyed post-war Germany.


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