Ellen Rohlfs left on November 9, 2020 with her usual discretion. She was 93 years old. Like all people who met her, we can only mourn her, a woman with the upright walk and the tenacity of a hamster.
In principle Ellen, a rigorous German Protestant, and I, an undogmatic atheist from the Mediterranean, had little in common from the start. But Palestine became our meeting place. Since 2006, a few months after Tlaxcala was founded, we have been in contact. We then began to publish Ellen's translations. She translated texts from English into German. She focused exclusively on Palestine and translated almost only Jewish Israeli authors. The most important author was her great friend Uri Avnery. She translated his weekly columns until his death two years ago. Once, at my request, she translated a Palestinian author from Gaza and said she was not so familiar with his style. Uri Avnery's style was obviously closer to her since they shared the same German culture. From 2006 to 2018 we have published more than 600 translations of Ellen. After she stopped translating in 2018, we missed her. Nobody has replaced Ellen, because she is irreplaceable.-Fausto Giudice
I knew Ellen for several years, among others through Tlaxcala and Evelyn Hecht-Galinski. I have dealt with her as a person and have written a book about her, about her life and her commitment as a human rights activist. She told me about her youth, about the meaning of the words “Never again”, related to the Nazi dictatorship she personally lived through, as it is today for Palestine. If I were to sum up Ellen Rohlfs' lifelong commitment in one sentence, I would define it like this: Her human rights work was a life's work, a Sisyphean task, which Ellen Rohlfs tirelessly pursued and which she processed in her poetry. What Ellen taught me are two things: Sisyphean work is something positive. And secondly: Lyric poetry for human rights can only be a lyric poetry of dry words, because human rights are not a matter of course, but a struggle, a path, but which I would like to call the path in Goethe's understanding as follows: “The path is the goal”.
Ellen has left us an important task. And the motto of this task is: Stand up for Palestine and its people and see in this cyclical Sisyphus work of eternal denunciation, which you cannot escape because you believe in justice, the way and at the same time the goal.
I can only agree with what my colleague Fausto writes, and in particular with his description of Ellen as an “irreplaceable” fighter.
ProMosaik then also translated Ellen's poems into Italian. They are part of an Italian anthology of poems about Palestine by four voices, those of Mahmoud Suboh, those of Faten Dabbas, those of Ellen and my anti-Zionist fragments - Milena Rampoldi