Raissa Bloch (1899-1943)

Stefanie Mahrer

Stefanie Mahrer

How Can I Find You Again (Kak mne ververnut’sia k vam)

How can I find you again, holy names,
And you, letters, dark as ruined temples?
O, how my blood cleaves to you, helpless; (...)
Let me stay with you, (...)
The square-root letters of Your testament,
Knowing that the unquenchable light is spreadingAnd pouring the warmth of millennia into the dusk.

September 1934

Raissa Bloch (married Gorlin), was a St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) born scholar of Medieval literature, poet, and a scientific translator. She studied in St. Petersburg and Berlin where she earned her doctorate in 1924. In Berlin, she was a frequent member of Russian-intellectual circles where she met her future husband, Michel Gorlin. After Hitler and the National Socialists rose to power, they couple fled to Paris where Bloch continued her research as well as her work as a scientific translator. Her linguistic competences situated her in the triangle of German, French and Russian intellectuals. In 1936 her only child, Dora was born, around the same time she lost her German citizenship. After the occupation of France by German troops, her life was in great danger. In 1941, her husband was deported first to Pithiviers and later to Auschwitz. Raissa Bloch became member of a secret aid organization for children, OSE (OEuvre de secours aux enfants) and helped numerous children to pass the Franco-Swiss border. Her own attempt to flee to Switzerland in 1943 failed. Due to a mix-up with her name she was arrested at the border and sent back to France. Raissa Bloch was deported to Auschwitz where she was murdered in 1943.

Literature about Raissa Boch:

Graceffa, Agnès. Une femme face à l'Histoire: Itinéraire de Raïssa Bloch, Saint-Pétersbourg - Auschwitz, 1898 - 1943. Collection Histoire. Paris: Belin, 2017.
Lapidus, Rina. Jewish Women Writers in the Soviet Union. London: Routledge, 2012.
[url=https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.13173 /wienslavjahr.1.2013.0276.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Ac6011c64c8672ba0c9ffb534fced1c33.]Poljakov, Fedor. “Zur Übersetzungstätigkeit von Michail Gorlin und Raisa Bloch ins Deutsche: Materialien im Nachlass Fritz Lieb.” Slavistisches Jahrbuch, no. 1 (2013): 276–89. [/url]

Latest Blog Posts

Berta Ottenstein

Aleksandra Petrovic

Berta Ottenstein: the career of a German-Jewish dermatologist after 1933

Berta Ottenstein, a German-Jewish dermatologist held PhDs in chemistry (1913) and in medicine (1919) from the University of Nuremberg as well as a Habilitation in dermatology (1931) from the University of Freiburg. She was the first woman in Freiburg and the first woman in dermatology to earn this highest academic qualification, which is required in many continental European universities to conduct self-contained university teaching, and to obtain a professorship. After her dismissal from the University of Freiburg, she first migrated to Hungary, later to Turkey, and finally to the US. As a dermatologist, she was very well respected and a ground-breaking researcher, but as a woman she had to overcome many obstacles; as a Jew she was expelled and discriminated against in her own country. Without her professional network, which was based on her scientific excellence as well as on her ability to build friendships in all the many places she lived, she would have not been able to continue her career in exile.

Bildquelle: Universitätsarchiv Freiburg D001301393


Continue reading