Which scientist had the most tragic life

100th birthday of Wolfgang Borchert

Hamburg (dpa) - The fact that he lived 26 years, six months and not at least one day longer is probably the most tragic occurrence in the not easy life of Wolfgang Borchert.

His much too early death in 1947 only separated him a few hours from the most important event of his literary career: the world premiere of his play "Outside the Door" the next day. Hamburg's great writer, perhaps the most important eyewitness of the zero hour, would have been 100 years old this Thursday (May 20th).

It is the best time to rediscover a very varied oeuvre. Hamburg celebrates with many online events. "If you look at the circulation figures of Borchert's works and the artistic processing of his texts in music, literature and art, there are hardly any comparable authors," says the literary scholar and Borchert expert Konstantin Ulmer about Borchert's place in the literary canon. New generations of pupils read the play by Beckmann, who returned from the war, in German lessons.

It's a dark story. The hero returns to bombed Hamburg with a ragged Wehrmacht coat and gas mask goggles on a rubber band and never finds his way back into life. After meeting his wife, the alienation culminates in a sentence that is as cold and barren as the destroyed city: "" Beckmann "she said as one says to a table, table." Even God appears but can only weep in the face of so much death. Others don't want to hear any more and draw a line. The end remains open. The text is initially staged as a radio play and shakes millions.

"I can't think of a second piece that contemporaries identified so widely," says Ulmer. "How much Borchert has hit the nerve of the times can also be seen in the vehement rejection that his work also received."

Why is the text still so successful today? "Some of Borchert's key topics are depressingly topical." Outside the door "can be read as a play about post-traumatic stress disorders, war, homecoming, homelessness, but also hunger for life and love are topics of universal importance," says Ulmer. Borchert's life and work are also a reminder of what would happen if fascists, racists and nationalists left power.

The chairman of the International Wolfgang Borchert Society, Prof. Hans-Gerd Winter, summed up the big topic a few years ago on the 60th anniversary of his death: "Wolfgang Borchert was the first writer of the younger generation who had not been elected by the Nazis, but had to go to war; he was the first to talk about it. " The clear language and the beautiful pictures in the work of the young hamburger also captivated young people to this day. "Who knows? If he was still alive today (...), he might write completely differently," said Winter in a dpa interview at the time. But similar to, for example, US actor James Dean, Borchert died as a good-looking young man and was remembered.

"Borchert's texts are still widely printed and played, and updated," says Ulmer. During his lifetime, however, the enthusiasm was even greater. Literary contemporaries paid the young colleague respect: "Even a grand master of short stories like Heinrich Böll, who was a few years older than Borchert, saw ideal examples of the genre in his texts."

Born in 1921 into a middle-class family (father is a teacher, mother a successful Low German writer), Borchert's true passion was originally the theater. After only two months in the ensemble of the Landesbühne Osthannover in Lüneburg - for him the happiest of his life - he finally has to go to war.

The suspicion that he deliberately shot his finger off puts Borchert in jail and on the verge of the death penalty. Repeatedly he ends up in custody because of critical statements, for example because of a Goebbels parody. The months at the front and in cells will be fatal later. Ulmer: "Malnutrition, illnesses, frostbite, injuries - it wasn't just the liver disease with the almost uninterrupted attacks of fever. During the first deployment to the front, he lost the middle finger of his left hand, probably through self-mutilation, while the second he suffered severe frostbite on his feet . " In 1947, bouts of fever accompanied Borchert's last days.

Besides his greatest success, what should you read from him today? "His book debut" Laterne, Nacht und Sterne "(1946) brings together 14 selected poems from five years of production that he himself found presentable," says Ulmer. "In my opinion, short prose, stories like" The Dog Flower "," The Kitchen Clock "," The Dark Three Kings "," The Rats Sleep At Night ", but also less well-known ones like" The Long Long Street "or" Tui Hoo ". Or the wonderful story" Schischyphusch ", which shows a completely different side of Borchert: the humorous, fun-loving, people-loving author." A young writer who loved to fall in love with older women. There is more to be discovered about Borchert than his drama of the century about the war.

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210516-99-616697 / 3

Source: DPA