Nobel Prize in Literature, 1966
She was born in Berlin on December 10, 1891. She was the only daughter of a well-off German Jew family. For her 15 birthday she received the novel The Saga of Gösta Berling by Selma Lagerlöf as a present and her reading affected her so much that she wrote to the author, initiating an important epistolary relationship.
Several relatives and friends died victims of the antisemitic persecution. She and her mother were saved from the Nazi massacre thanks to Selma Lagerlöf who intervened in order to obtain a safe-conduct which made it possible for them to establish in Sweden in May of 1940. Nelly Sachs learnt Swedish and survived by translating into German the works of the most important poets of the country that had saved her life and that of her mother. Marked forever by the Holocaust from which she escaped at the last moment, she resumed her own poetic production writing about the tragic destiny of her fellow Jews. Her first work published in exile was In the Houses of Death. In 1957, she was elected member of the German Academy of Language and Literature. A year later, she received the poetry prize of the Swedish Writers’ Association. In 1960 she returned to Germany to collect the Droste Prize and the emotional impact of the trip led to a serious nervous breakdown, increased by the rising anti-Semitism in Sweden. She spent long periods in a psychiatric clinic where she wrote Journey to the Transparency and Death still celebrates Life.
In 1961 the Nelly Sachs Prize was created in Germany and in 1966 she received the Nobel Prize for Literature. A year later she was granted honorary citizenship of Berlin. She died in Stockholm on May 12, 1970, at the age of 78.