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Nelly Sachs Germany

Nelly Sachs
Nelly Sachs

Leonie Sachs, always known as Nelly, was born in Berlin
in 1891, into a wealthy Jewish family. An only child, close
to both parents, Nelly had a sheltered, contented childhood,
but suffered a serious mental breakdown in her late teens.
She recovered, nursing her father in his final illness, and
publishing accomplished but not very original poems in
journals and newspapers until the Nazis came to power in
1933. After the war began, having spent the next year
living in fear for their lives, Sachs and her mother escaped
to Sweden in 1940, where Sachs became a translator of modern
Swedish poetry into German, continuing to publish her own
work, now influenced by the new poetry she had translated,
as well as, increasingly, by the events of the Holocaust and
her growing understanding of Jewish culture. She became a
Swedish citizen in 1952. She suffered several more mental
breakdowns, affected by the trauma of her time in Nazi
Germany, the fate of the European Jews, and the death of her
mother. But she wrote prolifically, and her poetry became
very highly regarded in Germany. In 1966 she was awarded the
Nobel Prize for Literature. She died in 1970.