Milena: The Tragic Story of Kafka's Great Love by Margarete Buber-Neumann
A powerful portrait of loss, love, and survival in Nazi Germany.
Kafka’s great love, Milena Jesenká, to whom he wrote his most passionate letters, was a beautiful, politically committed, talented free spirit. At one time Kafka’s translator, she later became a celebrated journalist. Milena took an early stand against Hitler, which she pursued with vigor after the Nazis came to power.
As the head of a politically committed newspaper targeted by the Nazis, Milena was arrested in 1939 and sent to one of Hitler’s death camps, Ravensbrück. There she met Margarete Buber-Neumann, a fellow political prisoner, also a writer and opponent of Nazism. This book portrays a unique and remarkable friendship between the two women, a bond that helped them endure. They made a pact: if they survived, they would write a book together; if only one made it, she would tell the story. Three weeks before D-day, Milena died in the camp. Thus it fell to Buber-Neumann to tell Milena’s story. This book is a full biography of Milena, from her strict childhood in Prague to her love affair with Franz Kafka. By artfully and discreetly interweaving images of Ravensbrück with episodes from Milena’s life, the author avoids repeating the already well-documented accounts of concentration camps. She gives us a lesson in humanity and dignity, and an unforgettable homage to friendship.
Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Arcade, Good Books, Sports Publishing, and Yucca imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Our list includes biographies on well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as villains from history, such as Heinrich Himmler, John Wayne Gacy, and O. J. Simpson. We have also published survivor stories of World War II, memoirs about overcoming adversity, first-hand tales of adventure, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.
Margarete Buber-Neumann was born in Potsdam, Germany, in 1901. She survived imprisonment during World War II in both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and after the war wrote several books detailing her experiences. She died in Frankfurt in 1989.
Table of Contents
1 Meeting at the Wailing Wall 1
2 Stronger than Any Barbarism 11
3 Jan Jesensky 17
4 The Minervans Come of Age 26
5 The Loving One 38
6 The Lowest Depths 48
7 Franz Kafka and Milena 56
8 The Way to Simplicity 74
9 Marriage and Illness 83
10 A Blind Alley 91
11 New Tasks 99
12 Political Journalist 104
13 Mater Misericordiae 116
14 Let Us Not Perish… 126
15 The Catastrophe 133
16 A Free Woman 150
17 "A Time of Sadness is Rising Over the Horizon" 157