Mascha Kaléko

Through her celebrated satirical poetry, Mascha Kaléko voiced her experience of the growing threat of Nazism in Germany and the pain of being a refugee. After her family fled pogroms in Poland, Kaléko came of age in Berlin, writing poetry while taking evening classes in psychology and philosophy at Humboldt University and Lessing College. By 1929 she was part of the city’s literary avant-garde, publishing satirical poems on urban life praised by Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse. In 1933 she published her first collection of poetry, The Lyrical Shorthand Pad, followed in 1935 by The Little Reader for Grown-Ups. Even after her poems were banned by the Nazis, many secretly circulated hand-written copies. Kaléko immigrated to New York in 1938 and wrote advertising jingles while working to rebuild her literary reputation in America with more quiet, thoughtful poems and prose pieces. In 1945 she wrote Verses for Contemporaries, exploring her experience of exile. In 1958 her first book was reissued in Germany and quickly became a bestseller, prompting Kaléko to make speaking tours of Europe. In 1960 she moved to Jerusalem and in her final years branched out from poetry to write children’s books and epigrams.

Topics: Poetry

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Poet, Writer

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Mascha Kaléko ." (Viewed on May 15, 2021) <>.


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