Google Doodle celebrates Nazi Germany survivor Nelly Sachs

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

Google Doodle/Daniel Stolle

Google Doodle on Monday celebrated Nazi Germany survivor Nelly Sachs, who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966, on what would’ve been her 127th birthday.

Nelly Sachs Accepting Nobel Prize

Nelly Sachs accepts 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 she had been told to report to work at a concentration camp. They lived in a tiny apartment, and Sachs supported them by translating 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.

“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.

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