Alma Johanna König

* 08.08.1887 (Prague) 01.06.1942 (Maly Trostinez) Austria
Fields of activity: Writer, Lyrics
Author: Lieselotte Stiegler

Alma könig 3

Alma Johanna König was an Austrian lyrics with Galician-Jewish roots. She was deported by the national socialists to the concentration camp Maly-Trostinez and murdered there.

“You can live up to the hell of the Hitler time only in two forms: through authentic documentation or through poetic composition” (M.Th. Kerschbaumer)

Alma Johanna König emphasized the role of an artist and author as a moral instance in society. Erotic passion and suffering love, often historically-mythologically disguised, were her main topics.

Alma Johanna König comes from a wealthy, jewish family. She attended a higher school for girls and lived with her parents in Vienna since 1888. 1918 her first poetry book “Windsbraut” was published. Out of consideration for her family she published under the pseudonym Johannes Herdan.

1921 she married the Austrian consule, Bernhard Ehrenfeld and moved with him to Algier in 1925. 1930 she seperated from her husband and moved back to Vienna. Through the loss of ways to publish she impoverished. She was chased by the National Socialists and lost her apartment. After moving flats eight times she tried, unsuccessfully, to get to Greait Britain or the U.S.A..

1942 she was deported to the concentration camp Maly Trostinez.

König’s literary work, partly just published after her death by her friend Oskar Tauschinski, involved mainly historic novels, tales and poems and was already at her time honored with many prizes and were an important component of Vienna’s cultural life in the first third of the 20th century. Her Viking novel, published in 1924, “Die Geschichte von Half dem Weibe” received a prize of the city of Vienna in 1925 and her adaption of the Middle High German epic “Kudrun” was given the certificate “valuable” by the Ministery of Education. But also König’s own faith as a jewish writer was frugal for other artists, for example shown in the poem about her by Johanes Bobrowski in 1962.

In a similar way inspired König’s last days Maria Therese Kerschbaumer in her book “ The Female Name of Resistance” in 1996.

To keep Alma König in the memory of the public her friend Oskar Jan Tauschinski instituted posthum at her 70th birthday the prize “Alma Johanna König Preis”.

“In the morning at 5 o clock the poet kneels with her notebook on her lap, was awake, had prayed, had written throughout the night, was never mute”.



“What suffering the history books,

God may forgive the big sinners,

I engrave myself in the frame of the picture

with its content mute in contradiction”

(Alma Johanna König)


Author: Lieselotte Stiegler
Translation: Eva Linton



Eidherr, Armin: in “Lexikon der österreichischen Exilliteratur”, Hsg. Bolbecher, Sieglinde, Verlag Deuticke, München, 2000.

Kerschbaumer, Maria Theresa in: Der weibliche Name des Widerstandes, Vlg. Weser, 1980.

Polt – Heinzl, Evelyne, in: „Der literarische Zaunkönig“, Ausgabe 3/2004  


Photocredits: Alma Johanna König, author unknown. Sources: picture archive DOEW,Alma König, friendly permission „Dokumentationsarchiv des Österreichischen Widerstandes“ vom 25.9. 2013 und 12.1. 2014