Else Lasker-Schüler was born in 1869 to a family of Jewish bankers in Elberfeld, Germany, which today is a district of Wuppertal. She received training as an artist in Berlin and at the beginning of the 20th century she began to publish poetry. Later, she also published plays, though only a few of them were produced during her lifetime. Despite that, Else Lasker-Schüler is considered one of the most important poets in the history of 20th century German Literature.
When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the poet was forced to leave Germany. She lived in Switzerland until 1939, but visited Eretz Yisrael twice. During her third visit, Lasker-Schüler was surprised by the outbreak of World War II. Concurrently, the Swiss authorities didn't allow Else to return to Switzerland.
In Eretz Yisrael, Lasker-Schüler settled in Jerusalem and continued to write in German. One of her last works was a play called "Ich und ich
" (I and I) –
which expresses her hope for the fall of the Nazi regime. Her death in January of 1945 kept her from finishing the work and witnessing the turn of events in Europe.
Her literary estate is under the supervision of an estate manager, but since 1974, the material has been kept at The National Library in Jerusalem. Her personal archives
contain manuscripts of her works, drawings and correspondences with her contemporaries such as S.Y. Agnon, Samuel Hugo Bergmann, Gottfried Benn, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Max Reinhardt, Salman Schocken and Akiva Ernst Simon. You can also find evidence of her literary activities and thoughts in other personal archives and Library collections including many letters that she wrote to the Swiss lawyer Emil Raas
, to S.Y. Agnon
and to the Expressionist poet Albert Ehrenstein
. These archival materials have served as the foundation for many scholarly works, as well as for new editions of her own works.