For more than fifty years Alice Schwarz-Gardos wrote articles—some 5,000 in number—for German-language newspapers in Israel and Europe. From 1994, she also served as the editor-in-chief of the daily Israel Nachrichten. As journalist, editor, and foreign correspondent she reported on political and cultural events in Israel, always from an explicitly Zionist and patriotic point of view. In an essay published prior to the Six-Day War in 1967 she wrote: “Israel is our chosen home. It demands emphatic, even fanatic loyalty. It is loyalty derived from the pride which will in no case and at no cost ever again bend.”
Alice Schwarz, an only child, was born in Vienna on August 31, 1916, into an assimilated, non-Zionist family. Her mother, born Margarete Freistadt (1893–1982), was related to Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx and Theodor Herzl. Her father, Emanuel Schwarz (1883–1971), a manager in the Vienna Union-Bank, was retired early because of the stock exchange crash in 1929. Thereupon her family moved to Bratislava, where her maternal grandparents had a department store, a branch of which her parents directed.
In Bratislava she attended the German Realgymnasium and then studied medicine for four semesters. She published her first articles in the Bratislava German-language newspaper Der Grenzbote in the 1930s. She was awarded the youth-prize of Vienna’s prestigious daily newspaper, Neue Freie Presse, in 1935 and the following year won the youth-prize of the Pan-European Movement, founded by Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi.
In 1939 she and her parents immigrated illegally into Palestine with the help of a recommendation from Max Brod. Her parents opened a small café in Haifa, while she started work as a chamber maid and waitress. At the same time she attended the evening course at a commercial school in Haifa. From 1942 she worked as a secretary for the Royal Navy. In 1949 she began working for the German daily newspaper Yedioth Hayom, which then had a circulation of 15,000. During a stay of six months in Vienna with her cousin, the well known Communist journalist and author Bruno Frei (1897–1988) in 1949, she worked as press officer of the Jewish Agency and published articles about Vienna in Israeli papers. Upon her return to Israel she became the Haifa correspondent of Yedioth Hayom. In 1964 she married the Slovakian-born musician and composer Eli Gardos (1918–1980), who founded and directed a music school in Hadera. They had no children.
From the 1960s Schwarz-Gados served as foreign correspondent for the prestigious West-Berlin Tagesspiegel, the Hamburger Abendblatt and Die Presse. She covered the Eichmann trial for the Mannheimer Morgen and the St. Gallener Tagblatt because their correspondent Moshe Ya’akov Ben-Gavriel (1891–1965) refused to do so. Until the 1980s she reported regularly on Israeli literary and cultural events in Die Gemeinde, the monthly publication of the Jewish community in Vienna. In 1962 she became a journalist at Jedioth Chadashoth, the second and larger German-language daily in Israel. (Yedioth Hayom ceased publication in 1965). When Jedioth Chadashoth was closed by its owners in 1973, its staff sought a new publisher and was taken over by a publishing company owned by the Israel Labor Party. Although the nominal editor was Shabbetai Himmelfarb, Alice Schwarz-Gardos became the de facto editor of the paper, which was renamed Israel Nachrichten. In 1994 the Labor Party had to abandon its newspapers because of a law prohibiting political parties from owning newspapers.
Despite shrinking circulation due to the aging and death of its readers, Israel Nachrichten, together with the company’s other non-Hebrew newspapers, was bought by an Israeli of Moroccan origin. The move to the new premises coincided with modernization and the introduction of computer-printing. At the age of seventy-eight Schwarz-Gardos therefore learned to work with computers.
Beside her journalistic work Schwarz-Gardos published eleven books in German, including stories, novels (one of them autobiographical), books for young people, a book on women in Israel, a humorous book about Israel, her autobiography and two anthologies of German-language authors in Israel. Under the pen names Elisheva Yaron, Alisa Shahor, Lisa Schwarz and Lisa Bat-Emanuel she published stories in the Hebrew and German press in Israel.
Schwarz-Gardos was a member of the PEN-Zentrum deutschsprachiger Autoren im Ausland (PEN Center of German-Speaking Authors Abroad), which was dissolved in 2002. In 1982 she was decorated with the Bundesverdienstkreuz Erster Klasse of the German Federal Republic, in 1993 with the Austrian Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst, and in 1995 with the Große Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band of the German Federal Republic. In 1994 she donated her huge collection of papers and the archive of the newspaper Jedioth Chadashoth to the Exilbibliothek in the Vienna Literaturhaus.
Schwarz-Gardos passed away in 2007 at the age of 91.
SELECTED WORKS BY ALICE SCHWARZ-GARDOS
Labyrinth der Leidenschaften. With an afterword by Arnold Zweig. Haifa: 1947.
Operation Goliath (Hebrew). Tel Aviv: 1954.
Schiff ohne Anker. East Berlin: 1960.
Die Abrechnung. Graz and Vienna: 1962.
Versuchung in Nazareth. Vienna: 1963.
Jael und Joel. Eine Geschichte von Räubern, Sabres und Spionen.Stuttgart: 1963.
Entscheidung im Jordantal. Stuttgart: 1965.
Vom Donaustrom zum Zitrushain. In: Rolf Italiaander (Hg), Lebensentscheidung für Israel. Stuttgart: 1967.
Frauen in Israel. Freiburg im Breisgau: 1979.
Paradies mit Schönheitsfehlern. So lebt man in Israel. Freiburg im Breisgau: 1982.
Edited, Heimat ist anderswo. Deutsche Schriftsteller in Israel. Freiburg im Breisgau: 1983.
Von Wien nach Tel Aviv. Lebensweg einer Journalistin. (autobiography) Gerlingen: 1991.
Edited, Hügel des Frühlings. Deutschsprachige Autoren aus Israel erzählen. Freiburg im Breisgau:1984.
“Über die deutschsprachige Presse in Israel und insbesondere die Israel Nachrichten.” In Zwischenwelt, 18 Jg, Nr.1, Vienna (2002).
Seeber, Ursula, ed. Die Zeit gibt die Bilder. Schriftsteller, die Österreich zur Heimat hatten. Vienna: 1992; Wiltmann, Ingrid. Nur Ewigkeit ist kein Exil. Lebensgeschichten aus Israel. Möhlin and Villingen: 1997; Douer, Alisa. Neuland. Israelische Künstler Österreichischer Herkunft. Vienna: 1997; Fuhrmann, Maria Magdalena. A.S-G. als Schriftstellerin. Diplomarbeit. Vienna: 1998; Koppel, Gabriele. Heimisch werden. Lebenswege deutscher Juden aus Israel. Hamburg: 2000; Bolbecher, Siglinde and Konstantin Kaiser, eds. Lexikon der österreichischen Exilliteratur, 579–580. Vienna: 2000; Glasenapp, Gabriele von. In Metzler Lexikon der deutsch-jüdischen Literatur, edited by Andreas B. Kilcher. Stuttgart: 2000; Schmitz, Thorsten. “Bis zum Letzten Leser, in T.S.” In Abraham zwischen den Welten. Ansichten aus Israel. Vienna: 2000.
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Adunka, Evelyn. "Alice Schwarz-Gardos." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 27 February 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 29, 2020) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/schwarz-gardos-alice>.