Wolfgang Dircks was dead for five years before anyone knew it.
He was divorced, a former toolsmith, and disabled. Other residents in his Hamburg neighborhood knew nothing of the reclusive 43-year-old man. Many had never even seen him. Dircks’ landlord went to his apartment after the bank account from which his rent and bills were paid ran dry.
Dircks was in front of the television with the lights on his Christmas tree flashing beside him. More precisely, his skeleton was in the chair — with his TV listings open on his lap to the page for December 5, 1993.