Elisabeth Langgässer

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Elisabeth Langgässer
Tomb of Langgässer in the "Alter Friedhof" in Darmstadt
Born (1899-02-23)23 February 1899
Alzey, Hesse, Germany
Died 25 July 1950(1950-07-25) (aged 51)
Karlsruhe, West Germany
Nationality German
Occupation Writer
Partner(s) Hermann Heller
Children Cordelia Heller (b. 1929)

Elisabeth Langgässer (23 February 1899 – 25 July 1950) was a German author and teacher. She is known for lyrical poetry and novels. Her short story Saisonbeginn, for example, provides a graphically human portrayal of a 1930s German Alpine village erecting a sign forbidding the entry of Jews.

Langgässer was born in Alzey. In the last free federal elections in March 1933 Langgässer voted for Adolf Hitler,[1] but then during the Third Reich she was considered a "half-Jew" and therefore expelled from the Reichsschrifttumskammer (writer's union) in 1936.

Langgässer's daughter with the married Jewish man Hermann Heller, Cordelia, spent the war years in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz after her mother's attempt to improve her racial status by marrying her to a Catholic army officer from Spain failed. Told that a confession would save her mother from prosecution, the 12-year-old Cordelia willingly went to live in a ghetto hospital. After surviving the Holocaust, she joined her mother in Sweden. Langgässer had been deemed "non-Aryan" (her father had converted from Judaism), but had subsequently upgraded her status to "German" by marrying a German with SS connections. Cordelia resisted the pressure from her mother to provide material for a death camp memoir, and married and had several children with a Swedish Protestant, becoming Cordelia Edvardson; quite unexpectedly, she emigrated to Israel at the height of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and wrote a searing autobiography, Burnt Child Seeks the Fire.[2] Elisabeth Langgässer became a noted Catholic author. As such she was an influence on Pope Benedict XVI in his early years.

Langgässer died in Karlsruhe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Klee, Ernst (2007). Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer. p. 353. ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5. 
  2. ^ Lang, Berel, ed. (1989). Writing and the Holocaust. contribution by Raul Hilberg. New York: Holmes & Meyer. ISBN 0-8419-1185-1.