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Elisabeth Langgässer (1899–1950)

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Includes the names: Elisabeth Langgaesser, Elisabeth Langgässer, Elisabeth Langgässer

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Elisabeth Langgässer was born in Alzey, Germany, to a middle-class Roman Catholic family. In 1909, the family moved to Darmstadt, where she attended the Victoria School and trained as a teacher. She worked as a primary school teacher from 1919 to 1928, and published her first book of poetry, Der Wendekreis des Lammes in 1924. Following an affair with Hermann Heller, a married constitutional scholar, she gave birth to her daughter Cordelia in 1929 and lost her teaching job as a consequence. Langgässer then devoted herself to her writing career, and published more poetry, contributed reviews in journals such as Die Kolonne, and wrote radio plays. With the rise of the Nazi regime to power in 1933, she was classified as a "half-Jew" because of relatives on her father's side. She was banned by the Nazis from publishing but continued to do so in secret. In 1935, she married Wilhelm Hoffman, an editor, with whom she would have three daughters. He was fired from his job as a result. During World War II, Langgässer was forced to work in an ammunition factory, and 14-year-old Cordelia was deported to the Auschwitz death camp. Cordelia survived and later wrote her autobiography, entitled in English Burned Child Seeks the Fire. In the immediate post-war years, Langgässer wrote and published prolifically, and complete her novel Das unauslöschliche Siegel (The Unquenchable Seal, 1945) that she had begun years earlier. She began showing signs of multiple sclerosis and died in 1950 at age 51. Her last novel Märkische Argonautenfahrt appeared posthumously. Her letters, which provide insight into her life during the Nazi era, were first published by her husband in 1954; they were republished in 1990 by her granddaughter Elisabeth Hoffmann.
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