Who was Nelly Sachs? Google Doodle honours Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright

But who is the playwright and Nobel Prize winner who fled Nazi Germany in the Second World War? Here's everything you need to know.

Who was Nelly Sachs?

Nelly Sachs was a Jewish poet and playwright from Germany, who fled to Sweden during the Second World War.

Known in her youth as Leonie, she was born 127 years ago – on December 10 1891 in Berlin, Germany.

She studied dance and literature as a child and went on to publish many works in German and Swedish.

The writer became a spokeswoman for the plight of her fellow Jews in Nazi Germany.

She and her mother fled to Sweden in 1940, a week before she was due to report to a concentration camp.

Sachs wrote many poems and plays about Jewish suffering under the Nazis and also worked as a translator to make money while she lived in Stockholm caring for her mother.

She suffered many nervous breakdowns after her mother's death and spent a number of years in a mental institution, where she continued to write.

Sachs won both the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Droste-Preis award.

What did Nelly Sachs write?

Nelly Sachs published the following works of literature:

  • Legenden und Erzählungen [Legends and Tales], 1921
  • Fahrt ins Staublose: Die Gedichte der Nelly Sachs 1 [Journey into the Dustless Realm: The Poetry of Nelly Sachs, 1], 1961
  • Suche nach Lebenden: Die Gedichte der Nelly Sachs 2 [Search for the Living: The Poetry of Nelly Sachs, 2], 1971
  • Briefe der Nelly Sachs [Letters of Nelly Sachs] ed. Ruth Dinesen and Helmut Müssener, 1984
  • O the Chimneys: Selected Poems, Including the Verse Play, Eli, tr. Michael Hamburger et al., 1967
  • The Seeker and Other Poems. tr. Ruth Mead, Matthew Mead, and Michael Hamburger, 1970
  • Contemporary German Poetry, selections, ed. and tr. Gertrude C. Schwebell, 1964

When did she win the Nobel Prize?

In 1966 Nelly Sachs was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

She shared the prize with Shmuel Yosef Agnon, one of the central figures of modern Hebrew fiction.

It was divided between them equally "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people" and "for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength."

When Nelly Sachs was told about her winning the award on Oct. 21, 1966, she said: “Agnon represents the State of Israel. I represent the tragedy of the Jewish people.”

How did Nelly Sachs die?

She died at the age of 78 on May 12 1970 of intestinal cancer.

Sachs had spent much time in hospital for her mental health after her mother died due to trauma from being persecuted by Nazis.

Why is she being celebrated with a Google Doodle?

The Google Doodle was created to celebrate the 127th anniversary of Nelly Sachs' death.

The doodle was illustrated by German/Finnish artist Daniel Stolle.

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