Google Doodle celebrates acclaimed poet and brings her thoughts on fame to life

Anyone visiting Google on Wednesday will find a Doodle featuring a woman surrounded by flowers with rain and clouds in the background.

September 16’s Google Doodle – a celebrates the life of Mascha Kaléko, an acclaimed poet who held her final reading in Berlin’s America Memorial Library on this date in 1974.

Kaléko was a German-Jewish poet born in Schidlow, Galicia, in 1907. Today it’s in southern Poland but 113 years ago it was part of the Austrian Empire.

When World War 1 broke out seven years later, she and her family fled for Germany and eventually made a new home in Berlin in 1918.

Kaléko started writing poetry during her teenage years, and soon achieved celebrity status as Berlin’s newspapers started to publish her work.

In her poem Das Bißchen Ruhm (A Little Bit of Glory), she compared her fame to plants that must be maintained, a metaphor reflected in Wednesday’s Google Doodle.



Kaléko was an established figure in Berlin’s literary avant-garde by the early 1930s, and was often found in the city’s Romanische Café, deep in conversation.

Her first book, Das Lyrische Stenogrammheft (The Lyrical Shorthand Pad), was published in 1933 and followed two years later by Kleine Lesebuch für Große (The Little Reader for Grown-Ups).

She wittily urban life during the final days of Germany’s Weimar Republic, using satire to help explore themes such as social injustice and exile.

After the collapse of the Weimar Republic, her work was censored by the new Nazi regime.

In 1938 she left Germany for America with her second husband, musicologist and conductor Chemjo Vinaver, and one-year-old son, Steven.

The family moved around, living in New York and Los Angeles before eventually settling in Greenwich Village, New York, in 1942.


During her time in the United States her poems became more serious as she longed for Germany from the other side of the Atlantic.

Kaléko spent the best part of two decades in the US before settling in Israel in 1959, where she continued to write poetry.

Around this time she was also nominated for the Fontane Prize for literature, awarded by the Berlin Academy of the Arts. However, she declined the honour because a former member of the Naiz’s SS was on the jury.



Mascha Kaléko lived in Berlin for 20 years before moving to the USA in 1938

Tragedy struck in 1968 when her son, Steven, now 31 and a successful dramatist and director in the US, died suddently.

Five years later her husband also passed away.

Kaléko died on stomach cancer in 1975 in Zurich, Switzerland, and is now buried in the city’s Jewish cemetery at Friesenhof.

It wasn’t until 2010 that a number of her poems were translated into English, appearing in No Matter Where I Travel, I Come to Nowhereland – The poetry of Mascha Kaléko.

In Berlin – her home for 20 years – she has been honoured with a park and street in her name.

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