Who was Else Lasker-Schüler? Today’s Google Doodle honours the German poet who fled Nazi rule

Today’s Google Doodle is honouring the acclaimed German poet and artist Else Lasker-Schüler.

Born around 150 years ago, Lasker-Schüler is widely thought of as one of the greatest lyricists to ever write in the German language.

And it was on this day in 1937 that a Swiss newspaper published perhaps her most famous poem, the iconic “Mein blaues Klavier” (“My Blue Piano”).

Here’s all you need to know about Else Lasker-Schüler.


Who was Else Lasker-Schüler? 

Lasker-Schüler was born to a wealthy and prominent Jewish family in Elberfeld, Germany on February 11, 1869. She was home-schooled by her mother, who encouraged her to experiment and explore her artistic interests, which eventually developed her voice as a poet.

Lasker-Schüler moved to Berlin after marrying dotor and chess master Jonathan Lasker in 1894, where she not only published her first poems but also where she became a well-known fixture of the city’s artistic and bohemian circles. 

She rubbed elbows with Berlin’s top literary figures in the city’s artistic cafes, and often dressed in flamboyant robes as she took on the persona of one of her vibrant characters, “Jusuf, Prince of Thebes.”

After divorcing her first husband in 1903, she married the artist Gorg Lewin, better known by his pseudonym, Herwarth Walden. However, the two divorced in 1912.

Lasker-Schüler soon became a key member of the Expressionist movement as she wrote numerous poems, plays, short stories and essays covering topcis from fantasy to loneliness, romance and religion.

She established herself as a leading and profilic poet, and a leading voice in the iconic Berlin literary journal Der Sturm (“The Storm”).

In recognition of her impact, Lasker-Schüler was honoured with the Kleist Prize in 1932, widely considered the highest Germany literary honour at the time.

However despite her apparent success, Lasker-Schüler spent much of her career riven by poverty and dependant on the financial support of her friends and was forced to flee the country following Hitler’s rise to power.

Physically threatened and harassed by Nazis, she first fled to Zurich then to Palestine and Jerusalem. Stripped of her German citizenship in 1938, the outbreak of World War Two meant she could not return to Europe. 

She continued portraying “Jusuf, Prince of Thebes” and publishing multiple works from exile, including “Mein blaues Klavier.”

She died in Jerusalem in 1945 at the age of 75 after she had a heart attack, and buried on the Mount of Olives.

Still influential to this day Lasker-Schüler, she left behind a huge body of work and is still recognised for her impact as a writer.


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