The wound and other early narratives

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The volume Die Verwundung and other early stories by Heinrich Böll was published by Lamuv Verlag in Bornheim-Merten in September 1983 . The 22 stories in this collection - written between 1947 and 1952 - are mainly a reminder to the Germans who were born later: "Never again war !" - combined with the tentative hope for peace.


The night of love

A soldier sleeps chest to chest with a woman during a summer night in a hotel. He really wants to sleep with her and only regrets that he has run into someone who does not speak a word.

The unknown soldier

On the seemingly endless approach to the battle line, a soldier is so worn down by the cold, lack of water and other adversities that he longs for death. Then, close to the battle line, he hears and sees the death of the German men under Russian fire and his wish comes true. The soldier, fatally wounded, screams and dies.

Jak, the tugboat

Night on the Eastern Front: Just two hundred meters from the foremost Russian position, crouching on listening post in a hole in the ground, the soldier Hubert - that's the first-person narrator - is assigned to the young Jak from behind as reinforcement. Jak is a half-orphan, comes from St. Avold in Lorraine and had three “freelance” whores dragged in for a starvation wage in Cologne as a “civilian”. Jak can hardly contain his fear of the enemy at the advanced post. Hubert shoots up one of the rare flare cartridges, just to look into the face of a tractor. Then the other side attacks surprisingly. There is no time for the intended escape to the rear. Hubert throws himself on Jak and only sees blood under him.

The murder

Another night on the Eastern Front: two German soldiers on post can hardly believe their eyes. The command post of her hated superior, a drinker, is brightly lit. The boss promptly got a direct hit from a Russian night plane. The first-person narrator remains in the ditch. The role of the temporarily absent comrade in the murder remains unclear.

Seventeen and four

The narrator is playing cards with Sergeant Fips to pass the time when an explosion outside is followed by a scream. Both rush out. The first-person narrator searches for and finds the hideously mutilated comrade Alfred. A little later he also finds Fips - also mutilated beyond recognition. The first-person narrator recognizes the NCO by his playing card, which he quickly clamped under the shoulder piece after the explosion. Fips had "21" and won the game.

Cause of death: hooked nose

The apocalypse: The radio operator Leutnant Hegemüller is quartered with a Russian family and is startled by a message. Outside the town, German occupiers, wearing the same uniform as the lieutenant, murder the Jewish civilian population en masse. The Russian landlord, although not a Jew, is also to be executed. The "rescuer" Hegemüller arrives at the scene of the crime a minute too late. There is still a breath of life in the landlord. Hegemüller dragged the dying man to the nearest German hospital. There the lieutenant found only one monster in the cynical doctor.

Vive la France!

Spring night in occupied France away from the front at Bechencourt near the sea: a German guard struggles with his lot far from home, far from his own wife. While the captain and the lieutenant get drunk until late at night and have fun with French women, the soldier has to patrol and time does not want to pass. When the drunken lieutenant reprimands him and he has to stand at attention in front of the officer, his despair turns into hatred. What had the swaying lieutenant ordered? Everyone should be shot who does not know the slogan. The long night won't go by. The mood of the guard, who also lives in constant financial need, has reached its lowest point. When the watch finally comes to an end and the lieutenant comes along, the soldier demands the slogan. After the lieutenant had shouted the slogan, he was shot by the soldier anyway.

The wound

During a battle near Jassy in Romania, directly on the German-Russian front, the 18-year-old stove fitter Hans is wounded for the third time. The soldier is happy. This time the wound - a horrible hole in the back - is enough for a place in the hospital train heading home. Hans doesn't want to recover quickly. He enjoys his new life as a wounded man and gives his drinking companion, Sergeant Hubert, to a “home shot seller”. He shoots Hubert straight through the forearm. Hans arranges it so that Hubert also gets a place on the home train. The journey goes from Romania, allied with the Third Reich, to Hungary, allied with the Third Reich. There are encounters with the Hungarian population. This thinks just as little of Horthy as Hans von Hitler. Hansen's back festers badly, but the longed-for destination beckons - maybe the Vienna Woods , maybe a hospital in Dresden. Hans hopes the war will finally be over when he's healthy again. - This extensive narrative text is a fragment of a novel; this is inspired by Hemingway's war novel In Another Land .

In the cage

A camp inmate approaches the barbed wire fence and kills himself inside.

I can not forget her

The captain orders a counter-attack. The first-person narrator is wounded and carried back to the village. A doctor who looks young is on guard at the bedside. He demands a kiss from her. After the second, more urgent request, she does him a favor and he has not been able to forget her since then. After the war is over and the narrator has recovered, he does not comply with the request to work, but looks for the woman. He will find her.

The heather is green

In order to defend bridges over rivers from the approaching Americans shortly before the end of the war, dispersed soldiers were hastily thrown together to form new "units". In the process, “the man” got to know the soldier Willi Gärtner - for only half an hour. Gärtner was shot dead by Sergeant Stevenson. The man took Gärtner's home address from the dead man's pay book and now - four years later - wants to tell the widow of her husband's death. The man asks his way through. When he learns that the woman is in good hands, he lets go of his plan.

The gutter

A man sleeps with a woman in their ruined house. The woman who had to work in the war - far from home but still in Germany - and suffered hardship, weeps.

Loneliness in autumn

Two war returnees are looking for their wives. When one finds his, the other has to move on alone.

On the bank

A US soldier is lovesick. He wants to put an end to his life in the Rhine because of a long-legged, blond Gertrud. Instead, he saves the life of a 16-year-old German boy who jumped in because he lost the entire extended family's food stamps.

A shirt made of green silk

A hungry young city dweller, returnees from the Eastern Front, struggles unsuccessfully to exchange his well-preserved civilian clothes for food from the well-fed rural population.

In good hat

January 1947: An unemployed person who graduated from high school in 1937, who survived the Eastern campaign and imprisonment from April 1945 to August 1946 as an infantryman, loses his footing. But in the hospital he finally meets a person in the nurse.

An optimistic story

Franz, the very shy friend of the narrator, becomes unemployed, but is incredibly lucky. Franz looks for and finds a rich "sweet" woman.

I am not a communist

The narrator, a father of a family, can only bear the post-war misery with its housing shortage with sarcasm.

Relationships is a satire that castigates the haggling over posts and posts in Bonn offices and back rooms.

On the border

The satirist Böll says: Those with a talent for writing can make a career at customs.

The wave rider

Böll tries his hand at being a detective writer: the thief stays with the detective who is on his trail.

In Friedenstadt is the story of a man who lives from life and sells his life piece by piece.


  • According to Jurgensen, the poetic in “Die Liebesnacht” is constituted from the sensory impressions of the “doomed nameless”.
  • In “Cause of Death: Hooked Nose” , Böll managed to include the reader in the confession of guilt. In “At the Border” and “I Am Not a Communist” the author enters into a downright “conspiratorial relationship” with the reader.


First edition
  • Heinrich Böll: The wound and other early stories. Lamuv Verlag Bornheim-Merten September 1983. 303 pages [In this edition the texts have been extensively edited and z. T. defaced.]
Secondary literature
  • Manfred Jurgensen: "The poetry of the moment". The short stories pp. 43–60. In: Bernd Balzer (Ed.): Heinrich Böll 1917–1985 for his 75th birthday. Peter Lang AG Bern 1992. 354 pages, ISBN 3-906750-26-4
  • Werner Bellmann : The literary work of Heinrich Böll in the first post-war years. An overview based on the estate . In: Werner Bellmann (ed.): The work of Heinrich Böll. Bibliography with studies on early work. Westdeutscher Verlag Opladen 1995, pp. 11-30. ISBN 3-531-12694-6
  • Michael Okroy: Reasoning in the waiting room. Denomination and criticism of the times in Heinrich Böll's early story "In gute Hut". In: Werner Bellmann (ed.): The work of Heinrich Böll. Bibliography with studies on early work. Westdeutscher Verlag Opladen 1995, pp. 89-109. ISBN 3-531-12694-6
  • Gero von Wilpert : Lexicon of world literature. German Authors A - Z . P. 68 (698 pages). Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-520-83704-8
  • Michael Serrer: "Cause of death: hooked nose". Heinrich Böll's story about a mass execution. In: Der Deutschunterricht 49 (1997) H. 4. pp. 76-78.

Individual evidence

The date of origin and details from the history of the edition are given in round brackets.

  1. Bellmann, p. 208, entry 1983.52
  2. (around 1951. From “Der Engel schwieg” , pp. 66–67: The soldier Hans Schnitzler spends the only night with his wife) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.1
  3. (1948, title in an only fragmentary fair copy: “Irgendwo da Vorderen ) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.2
  4. (1948; was revised a year later) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.3
  5. (1947) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.4
  6. (1948) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.5
  7. (1947) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.6
  8. (1947) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.7
  9. Perhaps Böll thinks Béthencourt
  10. (1948; was revised in the same year) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.8
  11. See Bellmann, p. 16f.
  12. (1947) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.9
  13. (1948, revised 1949) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.10
  14. (1948) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.11
  15. (around 1951. From “Der Engel schwieg” , pp. 145–149: Hans Schnitzler sleeps with Regina Unger for the first time) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.12
  16. (1948) Bellmann, p. 131, entry 1948.6
  17. (1948) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.13
  18. (1947) Bellmann, p. 131, entry 1947.4
  19. (1947) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.14
  20. (1949, original title (typescript): "Attempts by a young man to overcome his shyness" ; the print title comes from the editors of the 1983 edition) Bellmann, p. 204, entry 1983.15
  21. (around 1952. Partly used in the final chapter of And didn't say a single word ) Bellmann, p. 205, entry 1983.16
  22. (around 1952) Bellmann, p. 205, entry 1983.17
  23. (1948) Bellmann, p. 205, entry 1983.18
  24. (1949) Bellmann, p. 205, entry 1983.19
  25. (1948) Bellmann, p. 205, entry 1983.20
  26. Jurgensen, pp. 44–45
  27. Jurgensen, p. 46 above
  28. Jurgensen, p. 46 below