Saturday, July 5, 2008

Lenka Reinerova - The Last Yekke

Lenka Reinerova, the last of Prague's circle of authors who wrote in German, has died.She died Friday in Prague, Czech public radio said. She was 92.Reinerova was one of a number of German-speaking authors — Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel and Rainer Maria Rilkewere among the others — who lived and wrote in Prague before World War II. The city, then the Czechoslovak capital, had strong German and Jewish populations, and a thriving literary community.But the war changed that.Nearly 120,000 Jews lived on Czech territory before WWII; 80,000 of them did not survive the Holocaust. The country now has a Jewish community of only several thousand.And about three million Germans were expelled from Czech lands after WWII. They were considered enemies because many had supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazi occupation."She was part of something that ceased to exist some 60 year ago a Czech-German-Jewish coexistence, which was once typical for the city," Reinerova's Czech publisher, Joachim Dvorak, told Czech public radio.
Reinerova was born in Prague to a Jewish family on May 17, 1916. After studying at Prague's German high school, she began working in 1936 as a journalist for the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung magazine.Because she was Jewish, she had to flee the country in 1939 to escape Nazism. She traveled through France and Morocco, where she was jailed, finally reaching Mexico. But her family died in the Holocaust.
After the war, Reinerova moved to Belgrade before returning to Prague in 1948, when the country was taken over by the communists.In the 1950s, she was jailed for 15 months by communist authorities.In the next decade, she worked as editor-in-chief of the Im Herzen Europas magazine. After the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia, which crushed the democratic reforms known as the Prague Spring, she was not allowed to publish books and worked instead as a translator.
Her books, mostly autobiographical, began to be released in Germany in the 1980s. But she remained little-known in her own country, where her books were allowed to be published only after communism fell in 1989.
"As I am the only member of my family who was not murdered in the Holocaust," Reinerova told Czech radio in 2004. "As I am still here rather old already I can remember many things and I can remember persons, not only personalities. So I have somehow the feeling, I feel the necessity, as long as I can give some kind of witness, (to give) some kind of testimony."

No comments:

Post a Comment