Alena Wagnerová

A Czech-German writer and journalist.

Since 1969 she has lived in Saarbrücken and Prague and she works as a writer, translator and publisher. She has been a member of the board of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and the German Women’s Council. She is also a member of the German Sociological Society in the section for women’s research. Aside from this she is a member of the Saarbrücken-Prague Oral History Centre and the International PEN Club. She became famous with her work on Baroness Sidonie Nádherná. In it she paints a living portrait of a generous and independent woman, who was previously seen only as a muse to famous men. “I first heard of her from the literary scholar Růžena Grebeníčková, who taught me a great deal. The second signal was the study by Jaromír Loužil, which came out in 1992 in Halle, with excerpts from the letters of Sidonie Nádherná to Václav Wagner in the period when the chateau in Vrchotovy Janovice was threatened in the Second World War. There she appeared to me in a completely different light. Not as a chic femme fatale with big hats and long strings of pearls, but as a militant woman and a writer of letters that while simple in form were deep in their content. That is also what her surviving letters to Rilke are like,” explains Alena Wagnerová. Another extraordinary figure who she decided to literarily liberate from her cliched reputation in society was Milena Jesenská. “Very important for me was her reporting from the Sudetenland, which represents one of the peaks of modern Czech journalism. In 1938 she was the only Czech journalist to take a look at the border area and report for Peroutka’s magazine Přítomnost on the local situation – truthfully, critically and with concern. In her biography I tried to rid her of the gossip that had accumulated around her, to free her from the myth of Kafka’s girlfriend Milena, as was created by the first edition of Kafka’s Letters to Milena, where Willy Haas describes her beautiful walk, but does not mention that she was a journalist and died in a concentration camp,” states Alena Wagnerová. Among her other books is a publication on the family of Franz Kafka, the journey of Jiří Weil to Alsace and the two collections of interviews with Germans and Czechs from the Sudetenland.