Anyone traveling through Germany this month has until June 27 to see a landmark exhibit at the Jewish Museum Berlin, “Flight and Metamorphosis: Nelly Sachs, Writer, Berlin/Stockholm.” The exhibit, which opened March 25, pays homage to Nelly Sachs, the only German-language poet ever given the Nobel Prize. In 1966, Sachs shared the Nobel with Israeli author Shmuel Yosef Agnon, in what the Nobel Committee termed an award to “Jewish” writers.
The exhibit can also be seen from September to November at the Jewish Theatre Stockholm; from December 15 to February 27, 2011 at the Strauhof Museum, Zurich; and from October 15 to December 18, 2011 at the Dortmund City Museum, Germany. In addition, Suhrkamp has published the first two in a planned set of four volumes of Sachs’s writings.
Despite this outpouring of recognition, Sachs’s story is a tragic one; repeated hospitalizations for mental illness marred a late start in poetry around age 40, followed by an escape at the last minute from Berlin in May, 1940 to Stockholm, where she lived with her mother in a tiny apartment.