One of the numerous Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Anne Frank gained recognition posthumously after her diary Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was published. The diary, which has been widely read and translated into numerous other languages, details the lives of Anne Frank and her family when they went into hiding for two years, after Germany occupied Netherlands.
Hannah Arendt was a political theorist. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent political thinkers, Hannah Arendt's articles and books have had a significant influence on philosophy and political theory. Her life and work inspired the 2012 biographical drama film, Hannah Arendt. Her work has also inspired several biographies written by popular authors.
Hildegard of Bingen was a German writer, composer, Christian mystic, visionary, philosopher, polymath, and Benedictine abbess of the High Middle Ages. Apart from being the most-recorded composers of sacred monophony in modern history, Hildegard of Bingen is also widely regarded as the founder of scientific natural history.
Assia Wevill was an aspiring German poet and domestic-partner of English poet Ted Hughes. She escaped the Nazis at the start of the Second World War and eventually settled in the UK, where she got romantically involved with Hughes. She killed herself and her daughter the same way Hughes's first wife, Sylvia Plath, had killed herself six years earlier.
Born to actor Marlene Dietrich, Maria Riva started her career as a child actor, working in films such as The Scarlet Empress. The Emmy-nominated actor had also been part of CBS teleplays such as The Milton Berle Show. She had penned a bestselling memoir on her mother, too.
German-Austrian actress, author, and businesswoman Christine Kaufmann gained attention of post-war German movie audiences with her performances in films like Rosen-Resli, Der schweigende Engel and Ein Herz schlägt für Erika. She became the first German to be honoured with Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress for her performance in the drama film Town Without Pity.
11 Senta Berger
It is believed Austrian actor Senta Berger was suspended by the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar, where she studied drama, after she bagged her first movie role. The three-time Bambi Award winner is known for her roles in films such as The Quiller Memorandum. She is also involved with peace and environmental activism.
German singer Angela Gossow is best known to fans as the lead vocalist of the Swedish death metal band Arch Enemy. She is one of the few female singers who use death grunts as part of their performances. An atheist and a vegan, she is quite vocal about her opinions.
13 Judith Kerr
14 Traudl Junge
After being rejected by a dance school, Traudl Junge ditched her plan of becoming a ballerina and mastered typing instead. She later served as Adolf Hitler’s typist and was the youngest of his secretaries. After staying silent for years, she eventually revealed her experience to Austrian filmmaker Andre Heller.
Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.
17 Nelly Sachs
Nelly Leonie Sachs, internationally noted German-Swedish poet and dramatist, wrote conventional romantic poems until the rise of Nazism brought about a drastic change in her life. Forced to flee to Sweden, she began writing about the grief and yearnings of her fellow Jews, concurrently translating German works into Swedish and vice-versa. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.
Named to Time 100 in 2015, Cornelia Funke is a German children’s author who soared to fame with her best-selling novels The Thief Lord and Dragon Rider before achieving international fame with her Inkheart novel series. She has previously been a social worker, a board-game designer, and an illustrator.
21 Jil Sander
German designer Jil Sander had been a fashion editor for Petra before she launched her own boutique. She is known for her signature minimalist aesthetic and her association with Prada, which had acquired 75% shares of her company. She later collaborated with Fast Retailing to design for Uniqlo.
22 Herta Müller
Nobel Prize-winning author Herta Müller grew up under the dictatorial regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania. She was fired from her first job for not co-operating with the Romanian secret police. Her works, such as Oppressive Tango and The Passport, mirror the oppression of Germans she has witnessed in Romania.
25 Hito Steyerl
27 Erika Mann
32 Ilse Pröhl
35 Anita Berber
Anita Berber was a German dancer, writer, and actress. Berber's addiction to drugs and her choice of clothing in public events, which challenged social taboos at that time, overshadowed her professional achievements. In addition to her personal life, Anita Berber also achieved notoriety as a dancer; some of her performances featured total nudity. She died of tuberculosis at age 29.
Part of the German avant-garde movement and a prominent Dadaist, poet and artist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven is best remembered for her sound poetry and her posthumously published book Body Sweats. It is believed the famous urinal Fountain sculpture thought to be a work of Marcel Duchamp was actually created by Elsa.
37 Iris Berben
38 Nadja Regin
One of the rare female Expressionist authors, Else Lasker-Schüler is best remembered for plays such as Die Wupper. Known for her bohemian and eccentric lifestyle, she fled the Nazis and moved first to Switzerland and then to Jerusalem. Owing to her extravagant expenses, she died in poverty.
40 August Bebel
German biochemist and pharmacist Johanna Budwig is best remembered for her anti-cancer diet known as the Budwig diet. Her extensive research on fatty acids helped her create the diet that consists of flaxseed oil, cottage cheese, and low-fat milk. However, there’s no scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of the diet.
44 Margret Rey
47 Christa Wolf
Christa Wolf was a German novelist. She studied literature at the University of Leipzig and began working for the German Writers' Union. She eventually became an editor for a publication and started writing novels as well. The novels Der geteilte Himmel and Kassandra are among her most important works. She was a recipient of the Nelly Sachs Literature Prize.
48 Esther Vilar
Born to German-Jewish immigrants in Argentina, Esther Vilar studied medicine before she moved to Germany to study psychology and sociology. After taking up scores of odd jobs, she soared to international fame with her bestselling book The Manipulated Man, which argues that women aren’t oppressed but control men in relationships.
Considered the first German female poet and historian Hrosvitha was a Benedictine nun for most of her life. Her writings provided a woman’s perspective of the history of her era. Her works include narrative poems on Christian legends and comedies with Christian themes written in Latin.
Austrian-Jewish feminist and social worker Bertha Pappenheim founded the Jewish Women's Association (Jüdischer Frauenbund), mainly with the objective of improving women's experiences in the Jewish community. She was treated by Austrian physician Josef Breuer for nervous symptoms and her case study (under the pseudonym Anna O.) found place in Breuer’s book Studies on Hysteria, co-authored with Sigmund Freud.