Valentin Senger

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Grave of Valentin Senger by ER Nele in the forest cemetery Oberrad

Valentin Senger (born December 28, 1918 in Frankfurt am Main ; died September 4, 1997 there ) was a German writer, author and journalist of Russian-Jewish origin.


Senger's parents had fled tsarist Russia to Frankfurt am Main because of their revolutionary activity . The name Senger was adopted after the Russian Revolution. The father Moissee Rabisanowitsch was a skilled worker and revolutionary. Senger's mother, Olga Moissejewna, was a politically active woman. In Frankfurt am Main she campaigned, among other things, for the action group for the abolition of § 218 (abortion) and was involved in the associations and confederations of the Russian-Jewish workers 'movement such as the left-wing Jewish workers' cultural association. In Germany they joined the Communist Party of Germany . Valentin Senger and his two siblings were active in the party's youth organizations from an early age.

He lived and worked in Frankfurt am Main from 1918 to 1997. He completed his apprenticeship as a technical draftsman, mechanical engineering school, designer and operations manager.

When the National Socialists took power in 1933 , the family was doubly at risk because of their communist involvement and their Jewish origins. Nevertheless, they survived the twelve years of Nazi fascism as the only Jewish family (in the family group) undiscovered in Frankfurt. It was not until 1978 that he was able to process the associated experiences in his book Kaiserhofstrasse 12 . It became a bestseller. As a result, the book was filmed as a television play by Hessischer Rundfunk in 1980.

After the end of National Socialism, Valentin Senger worked as an editor for the communist socialist people's newspaper (SVZ) until it was banned in 1956 . The main reason for his separation from the KPD at the end of 1958 was its insufficient processing of Stalinism in connection with the revelations of the XX. Party Congress of the CPSU . Senger described the process of breaking away from the party in his second book, Kurzer Frühling .

After leaving the party, Valentin Senger found his way back to his Jewish roots. Although he was born in Germany, he had to fight for his naturalization for 25 years. After his application for naturalization, which he submitted on January 4, 1958, he was denied German citizenship because of his communist past. It was only after his successful book Kaiserhofstrasse 12 was published in July 1981 that he was offered German citizenship .

From the end of the 1950s until his retirement, Senger worked for Hessischer Rundfunk as a reporter for radio, television and head of the television business newsroom. The well-known ARD presenter Frank Lehmann reported that he would probably not have become a business journalist without his former superior Senger. Senger understood the economy primarily as social policy, as the economy of the common man.

He published and wrote his first books under the pseudonym Valentin Rabis in the 1950s: Die Brücke von Kassel (1954) and Am seidenen Faden (1956) were published by Neues Leben . In the 1980s and 1990s, more stories, novels and autobiographical texts followed. In particular, he devoted himself to researching Jewish life in Frankfurt am Main. He was particularly interested in researching topics about Eastern Judaism and poor Jews such as the Wandering Jews (novel: Die Buchsweilers ).

Valentin Senger was married to the television journalist Irmgard Senger from 1950 until his death. They had two daughters and a son. Valentin Senger had four grandchildren.

In Frankfurt am Main there is a street with his name (Valentin-Senger-Straße) and a Valentin-Senger-Haus. In 1990, Mayor Volker Hauff awarded him the plaque of honor of the city of Frankfurt am Main . In 1992 he was awarded the Johanna Kirchner Medal of the City of Frankfurt am Main.

A proposal to rename the “ August Henze School for the Language Disabled” to the Valentin Senger School was not successful in the 1990s. In 1998, the responsible local council decided to use the old name of the school instead and renamed it the White Women School . In the same year the Museum Judengasse in Frankfurt am Main showed an exhibition on Valentin Senger with the title Valentin Senger - Stranger in the Homeland . In September 2010, a branch of the Comenius School was set up at Valentin-Senger-Straße 9 under the name Valentin-Senger-Schule . It is a primary school with all-day courses. In the building there is also a day care center for the Frankfurt Caritas branch .

Another discussion with reading in the Museum Judengasse followed in 2006 with the title I want to talk about the fear of my heart .

In 2009 the publishing house Schöffling & Co. acquired the rights to Kaiserhofstrasse 12 and promoted the new edition with the first reading festival Frankfurt reads a book in 2010. The literary project was supported by radio, newspaper, media, theater, bookshops and the city administration of Frankfurt am Main.


  • The Kassel Bridge. A factual report. Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin 1954, (under the pseudonym Valentin Rabis)
  • By a thread. Verlag Neues Leben, Berlin 1956. (under the pseudonym Valentin Rabis), Art Prize of the FDGB (Literature Prize 1957)
  • Kaiserhofstrasse 12. 3rd edition. Munich, 1999. (First edition Darmstadt / Neuwied 1978; Schöffling & Co., Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-89561-485-9 )
  • Kaiserhofstrasse 12. (audio book with Walter Renneisen ). 4 CDs. Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-8218-6332-0 .
  • (published translation): The Invisible Jew. Great Britain 1980. (1st translation: United States 1980)
  • Short spring. Frankfurt am Main, licensed edition 1987. (first edition Zurich 1984)
  • with Klaus Meier-Ude: The Jewish cemeteries in Frankfurt am Main. 3rd, revised. and exp. Edition. Frankfurt am Main 2004. (first edition Frankfurt am Main 1985)
  • as editor: Introduction to Social Policy. Social security for everyone. Reinbek near Hamburg 1970.
  • The Buchsweilers. Frankfurt am Main 1994. (first edition Hamburg and Zurich 1991)
  • The women's bath and other Jewish stories. Munich 1994.
  • The homecomer. A surprise about the post-war period. Licensed edition for the Gutenberg Book Guild, Frankfurt am Main / Vienna 1995. (First edition Munich 1995)
  • The red gym shorts and other flag stories. Munich 1997.


  • Guido Speckmann: Valentin Senger (1918–1997). Survival, political activity, coming to terms with it. Master's thesis at the University of Marburg, 2005, OCLC 179753227 .
  • Carola Seiz: Senger, Valentin. In: Andreas B. Kilcher (Ed.): Metzler Lexicon of German-Jewish Literature. Jewish authors in the German language from the Enlightenment to the present. 2nd, updated and expanded edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2012, ISBN 978-3-476-02457-2 , p. 464f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. cf. Valentin Senger: "Kaiserhofstrasse 12." The writer and journalist. In: FAZ . April 29, 2010 (based on: Romanfabrik , Press Review 2010 ). See also: Valentin Senger (Ed.): Introduction to Social Policy: Social Security for All. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1970.