Margul–Sperber, Alfred

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MARGUL–SPERBER, ALFRED (1898–1967), German author, translator, journalist. Margul-Sperber grew up in a German assimilated family in Bukovina. After World War i, during which his family fled to Vienna, Margul-Sperber went to Paris and New York (1920–24). Returning to Bukovina, he started to work as journalist for the Czernowitzer Morgenblatt, soon becoming an important figure in the literary circles of Czernowitz and Vienna. In 1934 he published Gleichnisse der Landschaft, the first of 14 volumes of poetry which made him widely known not only for his description of the (symbolic) landscape of Bukovina, but also, especially later, as a political writer, with such poems as "Der Neger Jessy Owens U.S.A. er laeuft den olympischen Weltrekord, Fackellaeufer" (1936) and "Gespraech mit einem Kind. Aus Hitlerdeutschland 1936" (1941), in which he criticized racism and Nazism. In 1940 Margul-Sperber fled from Soviet troops to Bucharest.

As a leftist intellectual he was highly regarded after 1945 in Romania, writing in the style of social realism. Poems like "Auf den Namen eines Vernichtungslagers" (ca. 1959), "Aus dunkelsten Tagen, Der Tod Mosis," and "Nach einer chassidischen Sage and Das Ostermahl" (1941) reflect the Holocaust. At the same time, Margul-Sperber was a promoter of young German Jews writing in German like Rose *Auslaender and Paul *Celan, whom he influenced in his early work.


A. Kittner, in: Alfred Margul-Sperber, Geheimnis und Verzicht (1975), 589–614; B. Rosenthal, in: Bulletin des Leo Baeck Instituts, 68 (1984), 41–58; P. Motzan, in: A. Schwob (ed.), Die deutsche Literaturgeschichte Ostmittel- und Suedosteuropas von der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts bis heute (1992), 119–36; S.P. Scheichl, in: Suedostdeutsche Vierteljahresblaetter 47 (1998), 219–26.

[Andreas Kilcher (2nd ed.)]

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Margul–Sperber, Alfred

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