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Gertrud Kolmar: A Literary Life
by Dieter Kühn
translated by Linda Marianiello and Franz Vote
Northwestern University Press, 2013
Cloth: 978-0-8101-2879-8 | eISBN: 978-0-8101-6646-2
Library of Congress Classification PT2605.H54Z747 2013
Dewey Decimal Classification 831.912


Linda Marianiello here translates into English for the first time Dieter Kühn’s highly praised and definitive biography of one of Germany’s greatest poets, Gertrud Kolmar. Kolmar carried German-language poetry to new heights, speaking truth in a time when many poets collapsed in the face of increasing Nazi repression. Born Gertrud Käthe Chodziesner in Berlin in 1894, she completed her first collection, Poems, in 1917. She took her pen name, Kolmar, from the name of the town where her family originated.

Kolmar’s third collection of poems appeared in 1938 but soon disappeared in the wake of the overall repression of Jewish authors. At the time, she served as secretary to her father, Ludwig Chodziesner, a prominent lawyer. In 1941, the Nazis compelled her to work in a German armaments factory. Even as a forced laborer, the strength of her poetic voice grew, perhaps reaching its highest level before her deportation to Auschwitz. From gentle nature verses to stirring introspection, these are poems in which we can still find ourselves today. Both she and her father died in Nazi concentration camps, he in 1942, she the following year. The translation of Dieter Kühn’s biography conveys the tragic, yet courageous, life of a great poet to an English-speaking audience. 

See other books on: 1894-1943? | Kolmar, Gertrud | Literary Figures | Literary Life | Poets, German
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