Wolfgang Borchert
At Night the Rats Sleep


e were sitting in the Small Café, glancing over the empty tables, each of us already having a second espresso, and thinking about a sentence that had just fallen as an afterthought to Siegfried Ostrowski's de­script­ions of the Third Reich last summer:

"And afterwards no one is guilty …" — neither the po­li­ti­cians and their col­labora­tors, nor the lobbyists, the civil servants, the newspaper hacks, the university presidents and their lackeys, the company directors and the "silent majority" of the tacit supporters … afterwards the innocent bear the burden. Often, the guilty either disappear or have a soft landing under a new regime.

Wolfgang Borchert described this tragedy. He was a German writer who, after World War II, had become one of the best-known authors of the postwar period, writing short stories, poems and a play between January 1946 and September 1947. He died at the age of 26 as a result of injuries and infectious diseases contracted during the war.

"At Night the Rats Sleep" is an outstanding example of his work.

Bombed Hamburg

Hamburg after the Allied air raids.

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