Google Doodle celebrates Nazi Germany survivor Nelly Sachs

The poet and playwright, who fled into exile in the early days of World War II, would've been 127 Monday.

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Google Doodle celebratng Nelly Sachs

Monday's Google Doodle evokes imagery of Nazi Germany, which inspired poet and playwright Nelly Sachs.

Google Doodle/Daniel Stolle

The Google Doodle on Monday celebrated Nazi Germany survivor Nelly Sachs, who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.

Nelly Sachs accepting the Nobel Prize in literature

Nelly Sachs accepts the Nobel Prize in Literature from King Gustav Adolf VI in 1966.


Sachs was born into a Jewish family in Berlin on Dec. 10, 1891, and started writing as a teenager. She developed a friendship with Swedish writer Selma Lagerlof (the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1909), a bond that saved Sachs and her mother from the horrors of Nazi Germany.

Shortly before she died in 1940, Lagerlof convinced the Swedish royal family to help the pair escape to Stockholm, as Sachs had been told to report to work at a concentration camp. They lived in a tiny apartment, and Sachs supported them by translating from German into Swedish.

During this time, Sachs wrote poetry and plays inspired by family members who lost their lives in concentration camps -- the 1947 poem O the Chimneys is a clear inspiration for Monday's Doodle (by German-Finnish artist Daniel Stolle) and describes Israel's body rising through the camps as smoke.

Despite the pain evident in her work, Sachs' 1951 play Eli: A Mystery Play of the Sufferings of Israel touches on themes like forgiveness and renewal.

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"In spite of all the horrors of the past, I believe in you," she said as she accepted the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1965, a year before winning the Nobel Prize on her 75th birthday.

She died of cancer on May 12, 1970, aged 78. Monday would have been her 127th birthday.

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