Sachs, Nelly (10 December 1891 – 12 May 1970)
Nelly Sachs (10 December 1891 – 12 May 1970)
University of Richmond, Virginia
SELECTED BOOKS: Legenden und Erzählungen (Berlin: F.W.Meyer, 1921);
In den Wohnungen des Todes (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1947);
Sternverdunkelung (Amsterdam: Bermann Fischer Verlag, 1949);
Eli: Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels (Lund, Sweden: Privately printed, 1951);
Und niemand weifs weiter (Hamburg: Verlag Heinrich Ellermann, 1957);
Flucht and Verwandlung (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1959);
Fahrt ins Staublose (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1961);
Zeichen im Sand (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1962);
Glühende Rätsel (Frankfurt am Main: Insel Verlag, 1964);
Späte Gedichte (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1965);
Die Suchende (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1966);
Teile dich Nacht (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1971);
Suche nach Lebenden (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1971).
Editions and Collections: Ausgewählte Gedichte (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1963);
Das Leiden Israels (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1964);
Landschaft aus Schreien (Berlin/Weimar: Aufbau Verlag, 1966);
Verzauberung. Späte szenische Dichtung (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1970);
Gedichte (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1977).
English-Language Collections: O the Chimneys. Selected Poems, translated by Michael Hamburger (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1967; London, Cape, 1968);
The Seeker and Other Poems, translated by Ruth Mead, Matthew Mead, and Hamburger (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1970).
TRANSLATIONS: Von Welle und Granit (Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, 1947);
Aber auch die Sonne ist heimatlos (Darmstadt, Germany: Georg Büchner Verlag, 1956);
Johannes Edfelt, Der Schattenfischer (Darmstadt, Germany: Georg Büchner Verlag, 1958);
Gunnar Ekelöf, Poesie. Schwedisch-Deutsch (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1962);
Erik Lindegren, Weil unser einziges Nest unsere Flügel sind (Neuwied/Berlin: Luchterhand-Verlag, 1963);
Schwedische Gedichte (Neuwied/Berlin: Luchterhand Verlag, 1965);
Karl Vennberg, Poesie. Schwedisch-Deutsch, translated by Sachs and Hans Magnus Enzensberger (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1965).
Nelly Sachs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966 on her seventy-fifth birthday, a coincidence of dates that her father had been fond of noting during Sachs’s girlhood in Berlin. In her acceptance speech, Sachs made reference to her father’s annual teasing every December 10 and acknowledged that the award was like a dream come true. Nelly Sachs’s work was largely unknown outside Germany and Sweden when the prize was announced; she had been writing in relative obscurity for almost two decades. Two literary awards she received in Germany in 1960 and in 1965 had earned her a reputation as “the poet of Jewish fate,” a title grounded in her powerful, poetic testimonies to the victims of the Holocaust. Those poems, written and published in the 1940s, reached only a limited audience, and it was not until the 1960s when Germany began the process of confronting its Nazi past that Sachs’s writings found a broader readership. Some critics have argued that the sudden recognition of Sachs’s qualities as a poet in the 1960s reflected a tendency to appropriate her work as a symbol of Jewish-German reconciliation, while others have focused on the unusual nature of her poetic language and her role in infusing German literature with a new spirit. Sachs herself was wary of categorizations that limited her to a Jewish identity, but she graciously accepted the Nobel awarded “for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”; she shared the award with Shmuel Yosef Agnon, an Israeli author who wrote in Hebrew.
The Nobel Prize in Literature had been shared only twice prior to 1966—once in 1904 and once in 1917—and only once since—in 1974. The split of the Nobel award between two writers who shared neither the same nationality nor literary language sparked considerable controversy, as did the emphasis on the Jewishness of the two authors. While some hailed the award to two authors whose works were devoted to Jewish themes as an overdue recognition of the suffering resulting from the Nazi atrocities of the 1930s and 1940s, others regarded the split award as evidence that essentializing definitions of Jewish identity that were the legacy of Nazism still held sway. Thrust into the limelight of international recognition on the occasion of the Nobel award, Sachs’s works enjoyed a brief period of prominence and became the subject of serious scholarship. Despite the fact that she is one of only twelve German-speaking writers to have received the Nobel Prize to date, her works are largely unknown outside academic settings and then most often for her Holocaust poetry.
Leonie (Nelly) Sachs was born on 10 December 1891 in Berlin to William Sachs (1858–1930), a wealthy rubber manufacturer, and his young wife, Margarete Sachs, née Karger (1871–1950). An only child in a bourgeois, assimilated Jewish family, Sachs grew up in a sheltered environment that encouraged her penchant for fantasy, music, and dance. Sachs was sensitive and nervous, and because of these traits she spent only a brief time in private school before her parents decided to have her tutored at home. Sachs read avidly and was particularly fond of German Romantic writers such as Novalis and of fairy tales and legends. She received a copy of Selma Lagerlöf’s Gösta Berlings Saga on her fifteenth birthday, and this gift sparked a fascination with a writer who in 1909 became the first woman Nobel laureate in literature who would later be instrumental in Sachs’s escape from Nazi Germany. Sachs had a very strong bond with both of her parents, but their power over her life also had detrimental effects. In 1908 Sachs met a divorced older man whom she would later refer to as the love of her life, but whom she was forbidden to marry. Unhappy to the point of despair, Sachs experienced the first of what would become a series of psychological illnesses and turned to writing as a means of solace. The poems she composed at this time were written in traditional rhyme and verse, modeled after the poetry of German Romanticism. Some were destroyed by Sachs’s own hand; others she took with her into exile, although she distanced herself from this early work and did not release it for publication. That did not mean that Sachs was reluctant to seek public recognition for her writing. Inspired by Lagerlöf’s example, Sachs wrote the collection Legenden und Erzählungen (1921, Legends and Stories) and sent a copy to Lagerlöf after the book was published. Lagerlöf responded that she could not have done better herself, and the correspondence between the two women continued until Lagerlöf’s death in 1940.
In 1923 the financial situation of the Sachs family changed after William Sachs fell ill. By 1924 he was largely confined to bed, cared for by his wife and daughter until he died of cancer on 11 November 1930. The Sachs family had several properties in Berlin and after William’s death, Sachs and her mother moved to the house in the Lessingstrasse where they occupied the ground-floor apartment, managed the building, and collected rent from their tenants. This would serve as their main source of income until the Nuremberg Laws limited their right to own property. Although Sachs had never been active in the Jewish community, the growing discrimination against German Jews after Adolf Hitler assumed control of the country restricted her access to cultural activities outside of Jewish circles. She joined the Jewish Cultural Association founded by Rabbi Leo Baeck in May 1933 and made the acquaintance of writers such as the poets Kurt Pinthus and Gertrud Kolmar. As a member of the association, Sachs found an outlet for her literary interests and a group of kindred spirits with whom to share her work. Her poems were read at association literary evenings and were printed in publications supported by the association, as well as in Jewish newspapers in several major German cities. During this time Sachs began selectively to explore her Jewish heritage, choosing areas that particularly appealed to her taste for mysticism and Romantic spirituality. She discovered Martin Buber’s translations of Hasidic tales and became interested in Kabbalah.
After the state-orchestrated pogrom against the Jews in the Reich on 9–10 November 1938, the dire predicament of German Jews became undeniable and Sachs sent a series of letters to her childhood literary idol, Lagerlöf, pleading with her to serve as reference for Sachs’s immigration to Sweden. Sweden had a restrictive immigration policy and it was no small feat to obtain visas for two German-Jewish women who had no professional training and little promise of earning a living by their own means. Lagerlöf was old and sick when she received Sachs’s desperate letters, and it was not until Sachs’s close friend, Gudrun Dähnert, traveled to Sweden and personally made a case for Sachs’s survival that Lagerlöf fully understood the gravity of the situation and agreed to endorse Sachs’s visa application. Forced to sell their house on Lessingstrasse in 1939, Sachs and her mother moved into several furnished rooms in Charlottenburg, where they lived in constant fear of deportation. With the outbreak of war in September 1939 it became extremely difficult to leave Germany, and possible exits via Denmark or Norway were closed by 1940. By May 1940 Sachs had made all the necessary payments to the German government to enable her departure from Germany, but the visas for herself and her mother had not arrived from Sweden. Sachs’s desperation turned to despair after she received her deportation papers for a work camp. A friend visited the Swedish embassy in Berlin and found that the visas had been sent there. On the advice of a sympathetic Gestapo official, Sachs destroyed her deportation orders and purchased seats on the last available flight to Stockholm. She and her mother arrived safely in Sweden on 16 May 1940 with nothing more than hand luggage and ten reichmarks between them. They were taken in by the Stockholm Jewish community and spent their first night in an orphanage that served as temporary housing for refugees.
Sachs was forty-eight years old when she began a new life in Sweden. Her hopes of establishing herself as a poet in Germany had been dashed by National Socialism, but it was her response to the horrific events unfolding in Germany and Europe that secured her place in world literature. The first years in Stockholm were difficult. Sachs did not speak Swedish and was dependent on the Jewish community for financial support. Her mother was not well, and Sachs cared for her with the devotion of one who had lost all other ties to home. The two women shared a tiny, one-room apartment at Bergsundsstrand 23, a building that housed other refugees and remained Sachs’s address until the end of her life. Here Sachs worked to develop her Swedish language skills so she could earn some income as a translator of Swedish literature. Because of her diligence and poetic feel for language, Sachs had become an accomplished translator by the end of the 1940s. It is a testament to the quality of her translations that several of the poets whose writing she translated responded in kind by translating some of Sachs’s poems into Swedish. Sachs’s own style of writing underwent a dramatic transformation during this period as the result of a combination of factors. One was the influence of the modern Swedish poets whose works she came to know intimately. The other was news of events in Germany, reports on the deaths of friends and relatives, and Sachs’s growing awareness of the scope of the genocide.
In 1943 Sachs learned of the death of the man whom she referred to as the love of her life, but whose identity she never revealed. Despondent about his death and the death of so many others, Sachs turned to poetry as a means of expressing her sense of loss, her identification with the Jewish people, and as a testament to the memory of those who had been killed. Between 1943 and 1945 she wrote cycles of poems and one lyrical drama that would later be recognized as among her most powerful and compelling work: “Dein Leib in Rauch durch die Luft” (Your Body in Smoke through the Air), “Gebete für den toten Bräutigam” (Prayers for the Dead Bridegroom), “Grabschriften in die Luft geschrieben” (Epitaphs Written in the Air), and the lyric drama Eli. Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels (Eli. A Mystery Play on the Suffering of Israel). In these works Sachs developed the vocabulary of mourning and remembrance that she would continue to refine in her later poems. Words such as sand, dust, and ashes were accorded special emphasis and resonated with associations to biblical imagery, mortality, and death. Objects such as shoes also took on a deeper significance, evoking the wandering of the exile, the wandering Jew, and, in the absence of the wearer, symbolizing the traces of myriad extinguished lives. The combination of the quotidian and the cosmic and the link between individual fate and universal significance found in these writings recur in a variety of forms throughout Sachs’s works.
Although Sachs composed her poetic responses to the tragedy taking place in Europe in solitude and in a language that was both her mother tongue and the vernacular of the perpetrators, she was not without ambition to see them published eventually. She was convinced that the voice that spoke through her poems represented a message larger than herself and was meant to be heard by others. When the war ended and the Nazi regime was destroyed, she began the search for a German publisher. In the postwar atmosphere of denial and ruin, this proved to be a difficult task. With the support of Johannes Becher, Sachs finally found a home with Aufbau Verlag in the Soviet-occupied zone of East Germany for the collection of poems written during the first years of her Swedish exile. The press agreed to publish the collection, but under a different title than her originally suggested “Dein Leib in Rauch durch die Luft.” After signing the publication contract, Sachs wrote to Curt Trepte in Schwerin that she felt gratified that her poems would be read in a region “wo das Leid seinen Anfang nahm” (where the suffering began; letter of 10 October 1946). The book appeared in 1947 under the title In den Wohnungen des Todes (In the Habitations of Death). This collection of poems established Sachs’s reputation among the critics as “the poet of Jewish fate,” and the dedication to the volume—“to my murdered brothers and sisters”—underscored her kinship with the victims of the Holocaust. That same year Aufbau Verlag published Sachs’s first book-length collection of Swedish poetry in translation, Von Welle und Granit (Of Waves and Granite). But two years later the situation had changed: the Soviet zone had become the German Democratic Republic, and Aufbau Verlag had a different agenda. Sachs’s second volume of poetry, Sternverdunkelung (Darkening Star), was published by Bermann Fischer Verlag in Amsterdam in 1949. This volume was praised by the few critics who read it, but sales of the book were so low that the publisher pulped most of the print run.
These setbacks in gaining recognition for the poems that she had composed with such passion, conviction, and sense of mission added to the psychological devastation she experienced when her mother died on 7 February 1950. Sachs’s relationship to her mother had been extremely close, and the years in exile had deepened their bond. Although her mother had been ill for a long time, Sachs was inconsolable at her loss and suffered a nervous breakdown in March 1950. The year ended with yet another blow when her application for Swedish citizenship was denied because of her uncertain financial circumstances. In order to control her sorrow and maintain her sanity, Sachs began an intensive phase of writing: the cycle of poems Briefe aus der Nacht (Letters from the Night) and the lyric dramas Abram im Salz (Abram in Salt) and Nachtwache (Night-watch), both collected in Zeichen im Sand, 1962, stem from this period. She also delved further into works of Jewish mysticism, and was particularly inspired by the Zohar (The Book of Splendor) in Gershom Scholem’s German translation. Her conception of a cosmic spirituality unfettered by institutionalized religion was reinforced by her study of Kabbalah and the Zohar, and her readings of the latter text gave rise to a cycle of poems composed in 1952, the year that her bid for citizenship was finally granted.
In the latter half of the 1950s Sachs’s work began to be published in West Germany. Groups of her poems were published in newspapers and journals, and the only published prose text describing her personal experience in Nazi Germany, Leben unter Bedrohung (Life under Siege), appeared in the journal Ariel in 1956. Younger German writers such as Peter Hamm and Alfred Andersch were impressed with the spiritual intensity and poetic vision in Sachs’s work, but Hamm in particular was skeptical that the German public was ready for such writing (Du, no. 232, June 1960). Hamm’s view was apparently shared by the Suhrkamp publishing house, which, according to Siegfried Unseld, had contemplated a Sachs volume in 1958 but decided that the time was not ripe (Echo der Zeit, 17 October 1965). Despite such misgivings about Sachs’s potential readership, two book-length collections of her poetry were published in Germany by the end of the 1950s: Und niemand weifs weiter (And No One Knows Further, 1957) and Flucht and Verwandlung (Flight and Transformation, 1959). The poems in these collections make reference to the persecution and destruction that had inspired Sachs’s writing in the 1940s, but also present new directions with reflections on exile, the rejuvenation of language, and an evolving poetics of transcendence. These volumes and an inspired essay on Sachs’s poetry by Hans Magnus Enzensberger in the journal Merkur (volume 13, issue 138, 1959: 770–775) laid the groundwork for more public recognition of Sachs’s work.
In 1958 Sachs received her first award, the poetry prize of the Swedish Writers’ Association, albeit not for her own poetry, but for her outstanding translations of Swedish literature. The Cultural Committee of the Association of German Industry in 1959 was the first organization to recognize officially Sachs’s accomplishments as a German poet. This literary prize was followed by a series of awards that culminated in the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966. Sachs received the Droste Prize in Meersburg in 1960. The city of Dortmund established a cultural award in her name and named her its first recipient in 1961. In 1965 Sachs became the first woman ever to be awarded the Peace Prize that had been established by the German Book Trade Association in 1951. Sachs traveled to Germany to accept the Droste award in Meersburg and the Peace Prize in Frankfurt. She had not been in Germany for two decades and her apprehension about the trip was ameliorated by the presence of young German writers such as Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan who were staunch admirers of her work and gave her hope for the future. It was in Meersburg in 1960 that Sachs met Unseld, who became her editor at Suhrkamp. Suhrkamp published its first collection of Sachs’s poetry, Fahrt ins Staublose (Journey into the Vacuum) in 1961, followed by a collection of her dramatic writings, Zeichen im Sand (Signs in the Sand), in 1962, and another collection of poems, Die Suchende (The Seeker), in 1966. These publications brought Sachs’s work to the attention of a broader readership and increased her following among younger German writers such as llse Aichinger, Horst Bienek, Günter Eich, and other writers of the Gruppe 47.
The journey to Germany in 1960 reinforced Sachs’s belief in the younger generation, but the psychological stresses of the trip proved too much. Sachs suffered a nervous breakdown upon her return to Sweden and was hospitalized for treatment of paranoid psychosis. Her letters from this period attest to the depths of her paranoia and delusions of persecution, delusions that intensified during the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem in 1961–1962. Sachs was convinced that she was under surveillance by Nazi spies living in her apartment building and surmised that they were seeking revenge for Eichmann’s execution. She spent three years in a sanatorium, interrupted at intervals by attempts to return to an independent existence, and was subjected to electroshock treatments for her paranoia. The shock treatments made it difficult for Sachs to write and affected her memory, but did nothing to erase her fears. Despite her illness and the radical nature of her treatment, Sachs was remarkably productive, composing two complete poem cycles and two segments of a third. By 1964 she was back in her own apartment and by 1965 felt strong enough to travel again to Germany, this time to Frankfurt, to receive the Peace Prize. References to the Holocaust were unavoidable in Frankfurt, which from 1963 to 1965 was host to the Auschwitz trials, and some critics have remarked on the difficulty of Sachs’s situation as a German-Jewish recipient of the Peace Prize. The tension between genuine recognition for her accomplishments as a poet and her appropriation as a symbol of reconciliation permeated her reception in Germany until the end of her life and affected reactions to her Nobel Prize award.
Because of her work as a translator, Sachs became acquainted with several writers who were members of the Swedish Academy. Three of these writers, Johannes Edfelt, Gunnar Ekelöf, and Erik Lindegren, had helped publicize Sachs’s work in Sweden, and Edfelt had already praised the literary quality of her work to the Academy in 1963. Two German literary historians, Walter Berendsohn and Walter Jens, were called upon to provide their judgments on Sachs’s work, and both responded with high praise for her poetic talents and a clear endorsement of her worthiness for the award. When Sachs was announced as one of the two Nobel Prize recipients in October 1966, the committee chairman, Anders Österling, proclaimed her work to be a combination of beauty and lament, full of pain yet free of hatred. Although the Academy strenuously denies that political considerations play any role in the award, it is difficult to regard the decision to split the prize between two Jewish writers, one working in the Hebrew language and the other in German, as well as the timing of the award, one year after Germany and Israel had established diplomatic relations, as completely without political intent. In Österling’s presentation speech at the ceremony, he described Sachs’s writing as “the most intense artistic expression of the reaction of the Jewish spirit to suffering,” thereby emphasizing her position as the poet of Jewish fate and indirectly alluding to her refutation of Theodor W. Adorno’s famous dictum that “writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”
The Nobel Prize brought Sachs international attention and sparked a wave of translations of her poetry and lyrical drama into a variety of languages. The critical reactions to the award vacillated between those eulogizing her poetic sensibilities and her role in rehabilitating the German language and those questioning whether the Academy’s decision was made primarily on moral grounds. As a result of the award, Sachs’s work increasingly became the object of scholarly studies and dissertations. But Sachs herself did not produce another book after the publication of Die Suchende in 1966. She continued to write in creative spurts, but her health was failing. In March 1967 she suffered a heart attack and a recurrence of paranoia that necessitated further psychiatric treatment. In spring 1968 she was hospitalized for colon cancer, and in 1969 again underwent surgery to battle the disease. Although she spent months convalescing in the hospital, she never regained her health and died on 12 May 1970 after years of fighting to overcome psychological and physical pain. Sachs was given a Jewish funeral on 19 May 1970 and buried in the Jewish cemetery in Stockholm. In 1971 Suhrkamp published Suche nach Lebenden (Search for the Living), a collection of Sachs’s poems spanning the years 1964 to 1970 and intended as a companion volume to the earlier collection Fahrt ins Staublose. These two volumes represent the poetic oeuvre for which Sachs is known today. Although she continued to work on ideas for lyric dramas after the publication of Zeichen im Sand, no drama of hers composed after 1962 has been published. Sachs’s dramatic works have not received as much scholarly attention as her poetry and only a few were performed during her lifetime, in part because the mixture of dance, music, and mime these works demand together with the complexity of the language and the scenery made them difficult to stage.
Despite her status as a Nobel laureate and the burgeoning interest in Holocaust representation, Sachs’s lyric dramas are out of print and it was only recently that Suhrkamp decided to issue a critical edition of her collected works in four volumes, scheduled for publication in 2009. Peaks in scholarly interest in Sachs’s work can be grouped roughly into three main phases: the first around the time of the Nobel Prize award, the second after her death, and the third in the 1990s. The typecasting of Sachs as the poet of Jewish fate, a restrictive category that she endeavored to distance herself from in her later work, has guaranteed her a regular place in anthologies of Holocaust literature, but there are numerous secondary studies that address other aspects of Sachs’s writing, such as her affinity with Romanticism; her integration of mystical and religious imagery; the universal, ethical message infusing her poetry; and her transformation of German poetic language. Other studies have attempted to place her work in the context of broader questions of German-Jewish identity in literature, comparing her to writers such as Else Lasker-Schüler, Gertrud Kolmar, and Rose Ausländer, as well as Franz Kafka and Heinrich Heine. Despite these worthy efforts at expanding the dimensions by which Sachs’s corpus of writings is measured, Nelly Sachs remains best known for her moving, lyrical transfigurations of Jewish suffering inspired by the events of the Holocaust, which had radical and lasting effects on her life, her psyche, and her poetic style.
Briefe der Nelly Sachs, edited by Ruth Dinesen and Helmut Müssener (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984);
Paul Celan/Nelly Sachs. Briefwechsel, edited by Barbara Wiedemann (1993); English translation by Christopher Clark as Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs: Correspondence (Riverdale-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Sheeps Meadow Press, 1995).
Walter Berendsohn, Nelly Sachs. Einführung in das Werk der Dichterin jüdischen Schicksals (Darmstadt, Germany: Agora Verlag, 1974);
Ehrhard Bahr, Nelly Sachs (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1980);
Henning Falkenstein, Nelly Sachs (Berlin: Colloquium Verlag, 1984);
Franz-Josef Bartmann, “… denn nicht dürfen Freigelassene mit Schlingen der Sehnsucht eingefangen werden…” Nelly Sachs (1891–1970)-eine deutsche Dichterin (Dortmund, Germany: Zimmermann-Engelke Verlag, 1991);
Ruth Dinesen, Nelly Sachs: Eine Biographie, translated by Gabriele Gerecke (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1992);
Gabriele Fritsch-Vivié, Nelly Sachs (Reinbek bei Hamburg, Germany: Rowohlt, 1993).
Heinz Ludwig Arnold, ed., Nelly Sachs (Munich: Text + kritik, 1979);
Ehrhard Bahr, “‘My Metaphors Are My Wounds’: Nelly Sachs and the Limits of Poetic Metaphor,” in Jewish Writers, German Literature: The Uneasy Examples of Nelly Sachs and Walter Benjamin, edited by Timothy Bahti and Marilyn Sibley Fries (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), pp. 43–58;
Claudia Beil, Sprache als Heimat: Jüdische Tradition und Exilerfahrung in der Lyrik von Nelly Sachs und Rose Ausländer (Munich: Tuduv, 1991);
Russell Berman, “‘Der begrabenen Blitze Wohnstatt’: Trennung, Heimkehr und Sehnsucht in der Lyrik von Nelly Sachs,” in Im Zeichen Hiobs, edited by Gunter Grimm and Hans-Peter Bayerdörfer (Königstein/Taunus, Germany: Athenäum, 1985), pp. 280–292;
Kathrin Bower, Ethics and Remembrance in the Poetry of Nelly Sachs and Rose Ausländer (Rochester, N.Y.: Camden House, 2000);
Bower, “Nelly Sachs,” in Holocaust Literature, edited by S. Lillian Kremer (New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 1067–1074;
Gisela Brinker-Gabler, “Mit wechselndem Schlüssel: Annäherungen an Nelly Sachs’ Gedicht ‘Bin in der Fremde,’” German Quarterly, 65.1 (1992): 35–41;
Eleonore Cervantes, Struktur-Bezüge in der Lyrik von Nelly Sachs (Bern/Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1982);
Gisela Dischner, Apropos Nelly Sachs (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag neue Kritik, 1997);
Dischner, Poetik des modernen Gedichts: Zur Lyrik von Nelly Sachs (Bad Homburg/Berlin/Zürich: Verlag Gehlen, 1970);
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, “Die Steine der Freiheit,” in Nelly Sachs zu Ehren (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1971), pp. 45–51;
Robert Foot, The Phenomenon of Speechlessness in the Poetry of Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Günter Eich, Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan (Bonn: Bouvier, 1982);
Luzia Hardegger, Nelly Sachs und die Verwandlungen der Welt (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1975);
Bengt Holmqvist, ed., Das Buch der Nelly Sachs (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1977);
Paul Kersten, Die Metaphorik in der Lyrik von Nelly Sachs (Hamburg: Hartmut Lüdke Verlag, 1970);
Michael Kessler and Jürgen Wertheimer, eds., Nelly Sachs. Neue Interpretationen (Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 1994);
Olof Lagerkrantz, Versuch über die Lyrik der Nelly Sachs, translated by Helene Ritzerfeld (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1967);
Lawrence Langer, “Nelly Sachs,” Colloquia Germanica, 10 (1976/1977): 316–325;
Birgit Lermen and Michael Braun, Nelly Sachs “an letzter Atemspitze des Lebens” (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag, 1998);
Dagmar Lorenz, Keepers of the Motherland: German Texts by Jewish Women Writers (Lincoln/London: University of Nebraska Press, 1997);
Nelly Sachs zu Ehren (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1961);
Nelly Sachs zu Ehren: Zum 75. Geburtstag am 10. Dezember 1966 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1966);
Dorothee Ostmeier, Sprache des Dramas—Drama der Sprache. Zur Poetik der Nelly Sachs (Tübingen, Germany: Niemeyer, 1997);
Alvin Rosenfeld, A Double Dying: Reflections on Holocaust Literature (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980);
Rosenfeld, “The Poetry of Nelly Sachs,” Judaism, 20.3 (1971): 356–364;
Ursula Rudnick, Post-Shoa Religious Metaphors: The image of God in the Poetry of Nelly Sachs (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1995);
Beate Sowa-Bettecken, Sprache der Hinterlassenschaft: Jüdisch-christliche Überlieferung in der Lyrik von Nelly Sachs und Paul Celan (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1992);
Christa Vaerst, Dichtung- und Sprachreflexion im Werk von Nelly Sachs (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1977);
Klaus Weissenberger, Zwischen Stein und Stern: Mystische Formgebung in der Dichtung von Else Lasker-Schüler, Nelly Sachs und Paul Celan (Bern/Munich: Francke
Collections of Nelly Sachs’s manuscripts, correspondence, and books from her personal library are housed in the Royal National Swedish Library in Stockholm and in the State Library in Dortmund, Germany.