Tåget var punktligt

by Heinrich Böll


The Train Was on Time is the first published novel by German author Heinrich Böll. It dates from 1949.
The book centres on the story of a German soldier, Andreas, taking a train from Paris to Przemyśl. The story focuses on the experience of German soldiers during the Second World War on the Eastern Front where fighting was particularly vicious and unforgiving; Boll had earlier explored the same experience in A Soldier's Legacy which was written in 1948 but published later.
On his way to the war front, he meets two other Germans with whom he starts a dialogue and a short-term friendship; he also meets Olina, a Polish prostitute, who has been working for the anti-fascist partisans but who has become disillusioned with such activity, seeing it as begetting yet further cycles of violence and aggression rather than leading to a proper way out of the bellicosity of the situation. During their trip we learn much about horrors soldiers endure in the war, and the effect it leaves on a person. Andreas has a particularly passive attitude to his involvement in the conflict, and the inevitability of death hangs over the narrative in a tragic fashion.

First Published


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