Say No to War
by Stephen Lendman
Wolfgang Borchert : German, author, playwright, poet. His experience under Hitler and Wehrmacht service changed his life.
Never a Nazi supporter, he deplored compulsory Hitler Youth time. Finally he got out. In 1940, the Gestapo arrested, then released him. His Wehrmacht conscription suspended his young theatrical career.
Sent to the Eastern front, he saw war firsthand at its worst. It included numerous casualties, vast destruction, starvation, and painful deaths. When an infected cut caused hepatitis, he was accused of avoiding military service by self-mutilation. As a result, he was arrested, placed in isolation, convicted of making "statements endangering the country," sentenced to six more weeks in isolation, then returned to the Eastern front "to prove himself" in battle.
As a result, he suffered frostbite and hepatitis bouts. Given medical leave to recover, he returned home to ravaged Hamburg. He parodied Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Gobbels. Doing so got him prosecuted and sentenced to nine months in prison.
On release, he returned to duty on the Western front. In March 1945, his company surrendered. During transfer to a POW camp, he evaded guards, escaped, and walked home to Hamburg, covering about 600 km.
After the war, his health deteriorated. In 1946, doctors gave him a year to live. His damaged liver couldn't last longer. With life slowing ebbing, he resumed theater work and writing.