Jewish, female, poet: these three characteristics connect the fifteen women writers portrayed and shaped their lives and work. The image of the "tightrope walker without a net" that Masha Kaléko found for her own life also fits the others. They were poets who moved on the edge of the abyss, and not all of them were able to save themselves. Today, many of them are forgotten.
Balancing on a tightrope without a net over an existential abyss were the vast majority of these women, who were born around the turn of the century and had their most productive years during the Nazi era. Hedwig Lachmann alone, daughter of a Jewish cantor and teacher in Bavarian Swabia and wife of the anarchist Gustav Landauer, died as early as 1918. The youngest of the authors, Esther Dischereit, was born after 1945. Her mother and her older sister survived the Nazi period in hiding as persecuted persons.
15 illustrated exhibition panels and 15 poetry panels tell of the lives and work of these women. Most were well educated, spoke several languages, and were interested in literature from an early age. They were born in Cologne, in Breslau, in Elberfeld or Berlin, in Vienna or in the Romanian German-speaking Czernowitz.
In exile, they secured their material existence at times as laundresses (Nelly Sachs), translators (Rose Ausländer), artisans (Lessie Sachs), German teachers (Hilde Domin) or advertising copywriters (Mascha Kaléko). It did not prevent her from writing. Nelly Sachs said of her first years in Swedish exile, "I wrote to survive. I wrote as if on fire." One finds refugee poems of oppressive topicality: "The stranger is a cold dress / with a tight collar ..." (Mascha Kaléko), the loss of home is omnipresent: "My fatherland is dead / they have buried it / in fire ..." (Rose Ausländer). They wrote on against the danger of death: "I want to live / I want to laugh and lift burdens ..." (Selma Meerbaum) and wrote love poems to their children: "A dreamer you will be and yet bold ..." (Else Lasker-Schüler) and to their lovers: "If once you no longer love me / Then fear no sermon ..." (Lili Grün). They sing of the beauty of an evening: "Evening, both hands full of happiness / Do not hurry so, stay, come back ..." (Gertrud Kolmar) or of a city: "At night Haifa is / a pattern of stars ..." (Rose Ausländer).
Their themes are as varied as their language and poem forms. To follow her advice is still recommended today: to throw one's fears into the air, to unlearn having, to dress a stranger warmly, to long for freedom, to recite or write a poem every day.
The literary-contemporary exhibition is a tribute to these 15 extraordinary Jewish women writers and was created by Barbara Staudacher and Heinz Hoegerle on behalf of the Träger- und Förderverein Ehemalige Synagoge Rexingen. In 2022 it was shown for the first time in the Museum Jüdischer Betsaal in Horb.This content has been machine translated.