Ilse Aichinger
Jamika Ajalon
Hannah Arendt
Lilly Axster
Simone de Beauvoir
Monika Bernold
Dagmar Fink
Hannah Fröhlich
Tom Holert
Billie Holiday
Belinda Kazeem
Katherine Klinger
Anna Kowalska
Nicola Lauré al-Samarai
Adrian Piper
Yvonne Rainer
Rúbia Salgado
Shirley Tate
Ilse Aichinger (*1921)

Ilse Aichinger was born on November 1, 1921, in Vienna. Her mother, Dr. Berta Aichinger, was Jewish and a doctor, and her father was a teacher. Initially, the Aichinger family lived in Linz. After her parents separated, Ilse and her twin sister Helga moved with their mother to live with their maternal grandmother in Vienna. In 1938, the Nazis withdrew Dr. Aichinger’s license to exercise her profession, causing her to lose not only her job as a municipal doctor but also her surgery and her apartment. Helga was able to escape on one of the last trains to Britain organized by the Refugee Children Movement. Ilse, her mother, and her grandmother were to follow later, but their departure was prevented by the start of World War II. The Nazi authorities classified Dr. Aichinger as a “half-Jew” and the only reason she was not deported was that Ilse was still a minor, requiring her mother to care for an “underage half-Aryan”. When Ilse reached 18, she hid her mother in the room that was allotted to her cross from Gestapo headquarters on Morzinplatz. Aichinger’s grandmother and her mother’s younger siblings were deported and murdered at Maly Trostinets death camp near Minsk. Ilse and her mother survived the Shoah in their hiding place in Vienna.

In 1945, Ilse Aichinger began studying medicine but abandoned this course to write Die größere Hoffnung. In 1949/50, she worked as a reader for publisher S. Fischer. In 1953, she married the writer Günter Eich and the couple had two children: Clemens, who died in an accident in 1998, and Mirjam Eich. Aichinger has worked in various places in Germany and Austria and won many prestigious literary awards. She now lives in Vienna. Her twin sister Helga Michie stayed in Britain, where she worked as a translator, fine artist, and writer. She now lives in London. [1]

From the outset, Aichinger advocated critical views of political and social conditions, opposing false harmony and historical amnesia. As soon as 1945, she published a piece about the concentration camps, Das vierte Tor, the first such text in Austrian literature. In 1948, she published her only novel, Die größere Hoffnung, in which she deals with the experiences of Jewish children during the Nazi period. The novel is narrated by Ellen, a 15-year-old girl, and instead of offering a chronological account it is a complex blend of dream, fairytale, and contemporary history.

Selected prose works

Die größere Hoffnung. Novel. Bermann-Fischer, Amsterdam 1948
Herod’s Children. Novel. Atheneum, New York 1963

Rede unter dem Galgen. Short stories. Jungbrunnenverlag, Vienna 1952

Der Gefesselte. Short stories. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1953

Meine Sprache und ich. Short stories. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1978

Kleist, Moos, Fasane. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1996

Eiskristalle. Humphrey Bogart und die Titanic. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1997

Unglaubwürdige Reisen. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 2005

Selected works of poetry

Verschenkter Rat. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1978

Kurzschlüsse. Edition Korrespondenzen, Vienna 2001

Selected radio plays

Knöpfe. 1953

Zu keiner Stunde. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1957

Französische Botschaft. 1960

Zu keiner Stunde. Szenen und Dialoge. S. Fischer, Frankfurt 1980


S. Fischer Verlag


1) A book on the lives and works of the Aichinger sisters was published to mark their 90th birthday in 2011: Wort-Anker Werfen. Ilse Aichinger und England, Königshausen & Neumann: Würzburg 2011