About Wolfgang Borchert

Wolfgang Borchert (1921-1947) was born in Hamburg and trained as an actor before being drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to the Eastern front in the second World War, where he experienced firsthand the horror and senselessness of that terrible posting. Losing the middle finger of his left hand in combat with a Russian sentry, Borchert was accused of self-mutilation to avoid military service by the German authorities and arrested. Suffering from frostbite and hepatitis, he was released from prison on medical grounds, and reassigned to Hamburg, but he was quickly rearrested for expressing dissenting political views openly in a local nightclub. Manpower was needed on the Western front, so Borchert's sentence was delayed until after the war. Early in 1945, his unit was captured by the French near Frankfurt, but Borchert chanced to escape en route to a prisoner camp and, without many other options, made his way on foot back to his home in Hamburg. After the war, Borchert returned to the theater, writing short prose and poetry; his best known work is perhaps the play, Draußen vor der Tür (The Man Outside). His wartime experiences having irreparably ruined his health, Borchert died of hepatic fever two years later in a Swiss sanatorium in November of 1947.