Felicia Langer was born on December 9, 1930 in Tarnow, Poland, into a well-established Jewish family. Her father, a lawyer, was clear-sighted enough to flee with his wife and only child to Russia before the Nazis invaded Poland.
The long years of exile were to become a crucial phase in Felicia Langer’s childhood shaping her worldview and personal philosophy in a decisive way: She learned what it meant to be a refugee, to belong to an underprivileged minority, to live in bitter poverty, to be denied the chance to learn according to one’s abilities, to lose a beloved father prematurely to harsh living conditions,
In 1947 she met her future husband Mieciu Langer, a survivor of five Nazi con-centration camps. In 1949 the young couple married, and in 1950 they emigrated to Israel to join Felicia’s mother.
Adapting to the new country with its hot meteorological and harsh social climate, especially with the discrimination of the Arab minority, was not easy, nevertheless Felicia Langer was determined to make Israel her new homeland and to do her best to make it a better place to live in, for everybody. In her view the best way to do so was to become a lawyer and help the underprivileged in legal matters.
In 1959, when her son Michael was six years old, she entered university, and in 1965 she was admitted to the bar.
The June war of 1967 became a turning point in her life, she opened an office in Jerusalem for the Palestinian clients of the now occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, who needed an Israeli lawyer for their legal affairs. She defended accused Palestinians, fought against land confiscation, house demolition, deportation, tortures, denial of documents etc. She observed, documented and made public all sorts of violations against the human and civil rights of the Palestinians; for many years she was vice president of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights.
Her tireless and unrelenting commitment made her the target of attacks from fellow Israelis who could not understand that her actions against
oppression and discrimination were basically in the interest of the Israeli people.
Based on her diary notes she wrote several books, which were translated into numerous languages: “With my own eyes”, 1974; “These are my brothers”, 1979; “From my diary”, 1980; “The story written by the people”, 1981; “An age of stone”, 1988.
Early on she had predicted violent reactions against the ongoing occupation. Therefore the outbreak of the first intifada did not surprise her. As her work and endeavours became more and more fruitless, she closed down her office in 1990 in protest to make public that the legal system in Israel had become a farce.
She emigrated to Germany where her son had settled down in Tübingen. Temporarily she worked as a lecturer at Bremen University and later in Kassel.
Her main concern has always been a just and fair peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, and for this goal she is still as active as before, writing books and articles, giving interviews and lectures, taking part in public discus-sions etc.
For her courageous and continuous endeavours she received numerous prizes and awards: In 1990 she received the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize), and became honorary citizen of the city of Nazareth; in 1991 the Bruno-Kreisky-Foundation honoured her with their award of merit for services for human rights. In 1998 the Israeli magazine “YOU” elected her among the 50 most important women in the fifty years of Israel’s statehood.
Her recent books in German: “Zorn und Hoffnung (Fury and Hope)”, “Brücke der Träume (Bridge of Dreams)”, “Wo Hass keine Grenzen kennt ( Where Hatred is boundless)”, “Lasst uns wie Menschen leben (Let us live as human beings)”, “Miecius später Bericht (Mieciu’s late story)”, “Quo vadis, Israel?”, “Brandherd Nahost (Troublespot Mideast)”, and “Die Frau, die niemals schweigt (The Woman, who is never silent)”.
In March 2005, Felicia Langer was awarded with the “Erich-Mühsam-Prize” for her continuous struggle for the human rights of the Palestinian people.