Ruth Klüger

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Ruth Klüger at Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Ruth Klüger (born 30 October 1931) is Professor Emerita of German Studies at the University of California, Irvine[1] and a Holocaust survivor. She is also the author of the bestseller weiter leben: Eine Jugend about her childhood in the Third Reich.[2]

In 1938, Hitler marched into Vienna. The annexation of Austria to the Third Reich deeply affected Klüger's life: Klüger, who then was only six years old, had to change schools frequently and grew up in an increasingly hostile and antisemitic environment. Her father, who was a Jewish gynaecologist, lost his practitioner's license and was later sent to prison for performing an illegal abortion.[3]

She was born in Vienna. After the Nazi annexation of Austria, she was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp together with her mother at the age of 11; her father had tried to flee abroad, but was detained and killed. One year later she was transferred to Auschwitz, then to Christianstadt, a subcamp of Gross-Rosen. Following the end of World War II in 1945 she settled in the Bavarian town of Straubing and later studied philosophy and history at the Philosophisch-theologische Hochschule in Regensburg.

In 1947 she emigrated to the United States and studied English literature in New York and German literature at Berkeley. Klüger obtained an M.A. in 1952, and later a Ph.D. in 1967. She worked as a college professor of German literature in Cleveland, Ohio, Kansas, and Virginia, and at Princeton and UC Irvine.

Klüger is a recognized authority on German literature, and especially on Lessing and Kleist. She lives in Irvine, California and in Göttingen.

Her memoir, Still Alive, which focuses primarily on her time in concentration camps, is strongly critical of the museum culture surrounding the Holocaust.


Klüger at the OSU Holocaust Memorial Week, 2013

Publications include:

  • weiter leben. Eine Jugend, Göttingen 1992
  • Katastrophen. Über die deutsche Literatur, Göttingen 1993
  • Von hoher und niederer Literatur, Göttingen 1995
  • Knigges Umgang mit Menschen, "Eine Vorlesung", Göttingen 1996
  • Frauen lesen anders, Munich 1996
  • Landscapes of Memory, New York, The Feminist Press 2001
  • Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered, The Feminist Press 2001 (English translation of de:Weiter leben. Eine Jugend)
  • unterwegs verloren. Erinnerungen, Wien, Paul Zsolnay 2008

She has also published under the name Ruth Angress.


Klüger has been awarded many prizes, including:

  • Rauriser Literaturpreis (1993)
  • Johann-Jacob-Christoph-von Grimmelshausen-Preis (1993)
  • Niedersachsenpreis (1993)
  • Marie-Luise-Kaschnitz-Preis (1995)
  • Anerkennungspreis zum Andreas-Gryphius-Preis (1996)
  • Heinrich-Heine-Medaille (1997)
  • Osterreichischer Staatspreis fur Literaturkruk (1998)
  • Prix de la Shoah (1998)
  • Thomas-Mann-Preis (1999)
  • Preis der Frankfurter Anthologie (1999)
  • Goethe Medal (2005)
  • Roswitha Prize (2006)
  • Lessing-Preis des Freistaates Sachsen (2007)
  • Hermann-Cohen-Medaille (2008)
  • Ehrenmedaille der Stadt Göttingen (2010)
  • Theodor-Kramer-Preis (2011)
  • Austrian Danubius prize (2011)[4]


  1. ^ "Department of German: People". UCI. UC Irvine School of Humanities. Archived from the original on 28 March 2003. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2012-02-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Klüger, Ruth (27 November 2006). "Holocaust Survivor Ruth Klüger: "Vienna Reeks of Anti-Semitism"". SPIEGEL ONLINE (Interview). Interviewed by Martin Doerry. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  4. ^ [1][dead link]