The pale dog

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The volume The pale dog with 11 stories from the estate of Heinrich Böll was published posthumously in 1995 in Cologne. All of these texts were first published between 1936 and 1951.


The year of origin of the text is given in round brackets. Some of these times are uncertain.

The Burning (1936/37)

Three young couples consider founding an 'Association of Friends of the Absolute'. There is 16-year-old Heinrich Perkoning and the young prostitute Susanne. She escapes the brothel and dissuades Heinrich from suicidal thoughts by becoming engaged to him. The active Susanne had already saved Benedikt Tauster. Now 18-year-old Benedict is with Magdalena. Magdalena is expecting a child from Benedict. And finally, Benedict's relative Veit von Sentau, impoverished Franconian nobility, loves the beautiful pianist Natalie. From the above Club probably won't do anything. Because it already exists - the Church .

The Refugee (1946)

Joseph, the author of an anti-state brochure, escaped from the concentration camp . While on the run, he surprisingly attacks one of his tormentors and then finds brief shelter with a clergyman in the neighboring village. Before Joseph was able to reach the empire border , which would save him , he was shot by the concentration camp guards.

Caught in Paris (1946)

The Americans take Paris. The Germans have to give way. But soldier Reinhard stays and plunders. At the next advance of the superior force, Reinhard flees into a house entrance and hides in the bedroom of a beautiful young French woman. He can only continue his escape under cover of darkness. Until then, both Reinhard and the wife want to remain loyal to their spouses. But they love each other. Before Reinhard leaves the bedroom, the woman expresses hope. It might be possible for the spouses to forgive the two adulterers.

The Pale Dog (1947)

Theodor Herold alias the pale dog, who took part in euthanasia murders as an officer behind the front during the war and who continued to murder after the war as the head of a black marketeer gang, was brutally murdered by his own gang members. Herold was close to only one person in his life; his childhood friend, the current chaplain Becker. The clergyman mourns the dead man and blames himself. After the end of the war, when Herold successfully evaded criminal prosecution, Becker rejected his former friend when the war criminal turned to him in his distress.

The Rendez-Vous (1948)

A married man meets a young woman in a hotel room. But the man "accidentally" keeps the wedding ring on his finger. The woman does not sleep with the man, but goes.

The Esau family (1948/49)

A woman cannot stand being alone. She loves a writer who lives carefree throughout the day, a drinker - despite poverty, despite all his weaknesses.

The story of the Berkowo Bridge (1948)

At the end of 1943, the Wehrmacht fell behind the Berezina . The narrator, a veteran bridge-building engineer, uses 250 slave labor to repair a bridge that was blown up by the Russians in 1941. This means that heavy German weapons technology could also be withdrawn. German combat units east of the Beresina protect the bridge builders from the attacking Russians. Shortly before the hard-pressed German defenders want to use the bridge as an escape route, the structure that has just been repaired is blown up by a German commando. - This story is a preliminary stage of the eighth chapter of Böll's novel "Where were you, Adam?".

The dead no longer parry (1949)

At the end of the war, on a mild spring day at the front, the lieutenant yells at a soldier who appears to be smiling in his sleep. Everyone smiles with the roar. But it turns out that the person yelled at is dead. Nobody smiles anymore. On the contrary, everyone feels dead.

Paradise Lost (1949)

After seven years in the military, the returnees went to see his beloved Maria. He knows she will never forget him. He wants to take possession of everything in her house again. He waits impatiently for his lover in Maria's house - after all, he dreamed of this reunion for years. But when the homecomer takes a closer look around the rooms while waiting, he suddenly knows that his arrival was in vain. The man to whom Maria now belongs enters and reveals the feared truth to the newcomer. The returnee turns away and goes away.

America (1950)

The narrator, a hungry writer, has exchanged his fountain pen for fresh bread from an American. He shares the fragrant food with the hungry painter Hubert. While eating, both think out loud about the daily minimum calorie requirement of a German artist.

Anecdote about the German miracle (1950/51)

The father explains a few tricks to the incessantly inquiring son, according to which wealth can arise out of nowhere simply by moving accounts.


  • Bread is the best there is.


  • In 1995 Heinrich Vormweg wrote in his epilogue Beginnings of a Writer : "There can be no talk of early masterpieces." At the same time, Vormweg is a little unsure when he thinks about the literary meaning of the 11 texts. 50 years after the end of the war, "everything is still open" in this regard.
    • The pale dog : According to Vormweg, speak from the chaplain "naked despair" . In the face of "the corpse of this terrible person" [the pale dog], Böll articulated his "hopeless perplexity" about the crimes committed in the war. First of all, the short story is heavily criticized and in the same breath admits the absurdity of his criticism.
    • Die Brennenden : Vormweg points to the autobiographical character of the story. The existence of this text proves that Böll had already written before the war. This narration is not "realistic" , but "maybe" the "most haunting" of the tape.
  • According to Henning Falkenstein, the 18-year-old student Böll criticized the Church and materialism in Die Brennenden .
  • Gert Ueding in Die Welt : "We suddenly become workshop guests and thus witness the development of a writer who appears so much more artistic and artistically daring in his early work than in all of his much-vaunted novel chronicles of later years."
  • In the FAZ the stories are critically discussed in detail and Walter Hinck asks himself, among other things, whether the collection can still be of interest to "young and new readers" .


  • Heinrich Böll: The pale dog. Stories. With an afterword by Heinrich Vormweg. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag Munich May 1997. 175 pages, ISBN 3-423-12367-2
First edition
  • Heinrich Böll: The pale dog. Stories. With an afterword by Heinrich Vormweg. Kiepenheuer & Witsch Cologne 1995. 206 pages, ISBN 3-462-02439-6
Secondary literature
  • Henning Falkenstein: Heinrich Böll . Morgenbuch Verlag Volker Spiess, Berlin 1996. 95 pages, ISBN 3-371-00398-1

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 161, 8. Zvo
  2. Source, p. 78, 1. Zvu
  3. See: Werner Bellmann , in: Das Werk Heinrich Bölls. Bibliography with studies on early work, Opladen 1995, p. 28
  4. Source, p. 151, 14. Zvo
  5. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 168, 2nd Zvu
  6. Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 168, 3rd Zvu
  7. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 166, 8. Zvo
  8. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 168, 16. Zvo and 19. Zvo
  9. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 169, 8. to 14 Zvo
  10. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, pp. 160–161
  11. Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 161, 1st Zvu
  12. ^ Heinrich Vormweg in the afterword of the source, p. 163, 18. Zvo
  13. ^ Henning Falkenstein: Heinrich Böll . See p. 48 above
  14. a b - review quotes from Gert Ueding in Die Welt and Walter Hinck in the FAZ on Heinrich Böll: The pale dog

Web links

  • - Works Volume 1: Die Brennenden in Heinrich Böll - Cologne edition
  • - Works Volume 2: The Refugee , Trapped in Paris in Heinrich Böll - Cologne Edition
  • - Works Volume 3: The pale dog , The Rendez-Vous in Heinrich Böll - Cologne edition
  • - Works Volume 4: The dead no longer parry , The story of the Berkowo Bridge , Lost Paradise , America , anecdote about the German miracle in Heinrich Böll - Cologne edition