Felice Schragenheim and Lilly Wust were gay lovers, who managed to survive together for a brief period in Nazi Germany in 1942-44. Felice was a Jewish resistance fighter, and later died probably on the march between concentration camps in Poland to Germany on December 31st 1944. She was 22. Lily Wust survived the war. Their story is told in the novel ‘Aimee and Jaguar‘ by Erica Fischer, and the movie of the same name, directed by Max Farberbock. After Felice’s arrest, Lilly Wurst made an audacious attempt to seek out Felice in Theresienstadt, which ended in her being thrown out by the camp commandant. This is Felice/Jaguar, her with Lilly and Lilly in old age:
And this is a poem by Erin Hopson about them:
To sustain a loss without sinking under it: How Aimee remembers Jaguar
For Felice Schragenheim and Lilly Wust
photographs of women whose lips rejected
the stretched curve of smiles, instead waited
plump and teasing. It was better if water clung
to pinned curls, trickled and pooled in gullies.
Cattails should fringe the water’s edge.
teas that smell of fruit and spice, when brewing
produce more steam than common kinds. See
how stunning an iris in a chipped vase looks.
Add lemon scones and clink of cups held by hands
whose touch caused fires just that morning.
sink into the spaces between knees, brush bottoms
of feet. The softest parts pursue something equal
to spoon, fingers trace patterns over smooth
and slick terrain. How pliable, the chasm between lovers
where welcome linen soothes the burn.
with head rested on satin covered shoulder
the smell of war and sweat is more palatable.
Dizzying twirl and liquor makes the laughter
of fleeing friends less harsh. This was the only place
where women could whisper their true names.
V. On Outings
there would have been sadness. One used to carry
the blanket and one the wicker basket. With only this set,
comparing the size of footprints is less important.
Beyond the cattails, ash and soot cling to the pond,
but comfort is in the scent of spice and fruits and smoke.
This is Erin, who is an HIV/AIDS case manager from Muskegon, Michigan and is unpublished: