Nikolaus Lenau Memorial House

"Nikolaus Lenau" Memorial House
Commune Lenauheim, nr. 542,
Postal code 307240
Timis County
Telephone: 0256/360.428
Contact Person: Helen Kindlen

The museum is located in the house where the German Romantic poet Nikolaus Lenau (1802 - 1850) was born. The exhibits include photocopies, prints, paintings, illustrating the life of the poet and his family, first editions of his works, translations into the Romanian language of Lenau's poems.


Nikolaus Lenau  (1802 – 1850) 

     Nikolaus Lenau, actually Nikolaus Franz Niembsch, Lord of Strehlenau since 1820, born 1802, died 1850, is rightly regarded as Austria's most important lyricist of the 19th century. Born in the Biedermeier period, he reflects the inner conflict of his age through his life and work as no other could.

     Nikolaus Lenau was born on 13th August 1802 in Csatád (Lenauheim) in Hungary. Despite losing his father at an early age, he spent a relatively carefree youth, living with his re-married mother first in Pest, then in Tokaj and Pressburg. His tutor in Tokaj already predicted a great future for him. When family circumstances changed for the worse again after the death of his step-father, there were hard times ahead. Lenau lived partly in emergency accommodation, for example in a cemetery chapel. In 1820 he began to study in Vienna, with no particular aim. He fathered an illegitimate child. In 1821, the year his mother died, he published his first book of poems, already using his pseudonym. Between 1822 and 1832 he studied Law, Philosophy, Agriculture and Medicine in Vienna. When in 1831 he inherited his grandmother's wealth, Lenau's situation changed drastically for the better. He gave up his apparently disliked study of Medicine and went to Stuttgart in order to avoid censorship, and to see Professor and writer Gustav Schwab, where he continued his literary work. Lenau's volume of poems first appeared in Stuttgart at Cotta. There, the poet also got to know Swabian writers such as Kerner and Uhland. After a failed attempt at emigrating to America, he returned to Stuttgart in May 1833. Swabia had become a second home to this German-Hungarian. 

     It was during this time that the first sign of a spiritual and mental breakdown began to manifest itself. In his work, tenderness and feelings contrasted more and more with emotional outbreaks and melancholy. A relationship with Lotte Gmelin (Gustav Schwab's niece) broke down soon after it began. Lenau – already affected by melancholy – began an unsettled life. He came back to Vienna via Heidelberg, where he fell in love with Sofie, the wife of Max Löwenthal. As this love was unrequited, he was inclined to ever depressing moods and dark thoughts. In spite of this, Lenau wrote his main epic works during this period, e.g. 'Don Juan' and 'Die Albigenser'. Another attempt at building a relationship in 1844 failed. Lenau apparently suffered a stroke, which was followed by ever-increasing mental confusion and paranoia. After a fit of rage in 1844, he had to be finally taken in a straitjacket to the mental institution in Winnental. He eventually died on 22nd August 1850 after spending nearly six years in mental institutions, the last one being in Oberdöbling in Vienna. 

     Lenau's most important works are: 'Der Unbeständige' (1822); Polenlieder (1835); 'Faust' (1836); 'Savonarola' (1837); 'In der Neujahrsnacht' (1840); 'Die Albigenser' (1842); 'Waldlieder' (1843); 'Blick in den Strom' (1844); 'Eitel nichts' (1844); 'Don Juan' (Fragment, 1844). 

     Lenau's works should be classified between Romantic and Realism. The philosophical ideas of Nature of the Romantic were still alive in him; he himself understood his literature to be a contribution towards humanising and giving a soul to Nature. His works are full of longing for inner peace and harmony. Nevertheless, he painted in dark colours – melancholy, sentimental or in sudden outbreaks of passion – e.g. the landscape of his Hungarian homeland. The crossover to Realism is obvious in his works when he, for instance, suddenly ruins the magic of a May evening with a confrontation with Death

     So pessimism and melancholy are trademarks of his works and reflect, in a vague premonition, his own demise. Grand literary plans, such as re-working the Faust material, could only be partially carried out by Lenau because of his emotional condition. Amongst his lyrical works there is also a poem about the fate of Heloïsas in Paraklet, called 'Heloise'. 

(Translated by Diana Lambing from the original german version at

Inside the Nikolaus Lenau Memorial House
room view room view tablecloth village dolls      
Mercydorf Blumenthal Bruckenau        

Please feel free to copy the images for your personal use.
If you plan to use them on your website, please contact Jody McKim first.

*pseudonym: A name assumed by a writer.

Related Links



Lenau, Nikolaus, the *pseudonym of
Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Von Strehlenau
Austrian poet, born at Csátád near Temesvar in Hungary, on the 25th of August 1802 and
died 22nd of August 1850 in Oberdöbling.

Nikolaus Lenau (1802–1850) Biography

'Now & Then' by Nikolaus Lenau
The poem engraved in the pedestal of
the memorial in Lenauheim.

Nikolaus Lenau Memorial House - 2004
Photos taken by Jody McKim

More Photos, inside the Memorial House

"Then and Now"
 by Nikolaus Lenau"

  'How I wish I could go back there,
  Where such happiness was mine,
  Where I lived and where I dreamt through
  My youth's year the most divine!'

  While away I felt the longing
  To return to the homeland,
  The old bliss, I kept on hoping,
  Would still be there close at hand.

  Finally good fate and fortune
  Brought me to that vale again;
  But I found upon returning
  That my hope had been in vain.

  The old brook was there to greet me
  Bouncing sounds from rocks around;
  But my good friend's voice was missing,
 From the rhapsody of sound.

- - -

Translation by Nick Tullius, who spent the first 25 years of his life in Alexanderhausen/Sandorhaza/Sandra and Temeswar/Timisoara), says 'this poem certainly resonates with me.' 

"Einst und Jetzt"
 von Nikolaus Lenau (gekürzt)

"Möchte wieder in die Gegend,
Wo ich einst so selig war,
Wo ich lebte, wo ich träumte
Meiner Jugend schönstes Jahr!"

Also sehnt` ich in der Ferne
Nach der Heimat mich zurück,
Wähnend, in der alten Gegend
Finde ich das alte Glück.

Endlich war mir nun beschieden
Wiederkehr ins traute Tal;
Doch es ist dem Heimgekehrten
Nicht zu Mut wie dazumal.

Mögen deine Grüße rauschen
Vom Gestein, du trauter Bach;
Doch der Freund ist mir verloren,
Der in dein Gemurmel sprach.


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