Kraft, Werner

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KRAFT, WERNER (1896–1991), Israeli author writing in German. Kraft was born in Brunswick, and worked in the Leipzig and Hanover State Libraries. He maintained his deep involvement with the classical and humanist German traditions, even after making his home in Ereẓ Israel in 1934. He was profoundly influenced by Karl Kraus, Franz Kafka, and Rudolf Borchardt (all three of Jewish origin), particularly in his uncompromising attitude toward the moral obligations of a writer and his language. He wrote major works on all three authors, including two books on Kraus: Karl KrausBeitraege zum Verstaendnis seines Werks (1956) and Das Ja des Neinsagers (1974).

Kraft also wrote important essays on Friedrich Hoelderlin, J.G. Seume, and the otherwise completely forgotten Carl Gustav Jochmann. He edited a volume of previously unknown writings by Else *Lasker-Schueler, which were found after her death in Jerusalem in 1945. He published two volumes of his own lyrical poems in German and a novel, Der Wirrwarr, which refers to the fate of Jewish youngsters seeking their identity in the years of distress after 1933.

Kraft's memoirs, Spiegelung der Jugend (1973), deal with his life before his arrival in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he was in close contact with Martin *Buber and published an account of his discussions with him after the philosopher's death in 1965.


E. Simon, in: Neue Zuercher Zeitung (May 5, 1966); J. Drews, in: W. Kraft, Spiegelung der Jugend (1973), 154ff. add. bibliography: U. Breden, Von Hannover nach JerusalemWerner Kraft 1896–1991 (1996); J. Drews, Werner Kraft 1896–1991 (1996); U. Pörksen, Der WünschelrutengängerErinnerungen an Werner Kraft (1997); U. Breden, Werner KraftBibliothekar und Schriftsteller (1992).

[Erich Gottgetreu]