Lina Ritter

1888–1981, Village-Neuf / Neudorf

Why parts us a Rhine?
For us to teach them all
how to build brigdes.

He can’t speak Sundgàuisch any more.
He stayed in Paris
for two weeks.

Who forgets his mother
is not normal.
Who forgets his mother tongue …

Life and works

Lina Ritter is an Alsatian poet of the 20th century. She writes in German and Alsatian dialect.

She comes from a farmer family of Neudorf. Her father died when she was 3 years old.

The little orphan has a taste for reading. She very soon shows many talents and gifts, and also appears as a person with ideals.

After primary school in Neudorf she was sent to boarding schools in St Louis and Mulhouse. Meanwhile she attended private lessons in Latin and Philosophy with the parish priest of Brinckheim. As an unregistered student at the University of Basel, she studied very hard the subjects of arts and literature.

At the same time she felt a strong desire and need to express her feelings and ideas in poems and prosa. This meant the beginning of her important literary works: poetry (like the very original ”Alsatian Haiku”), theater plays, as well as the very successful novel about the life and works of Martin Schongauer published in Dülmen in 1940.

In 1919, Lina Ritter married Paul Potika, a lawyer of German descent. She first lived in Ettlingen, then in Baden-Baden and later in Freiburg-in-Brisgau. All that time she remained deeply attached to Alsace, her birth-place and region.

Lina Ritter's main concern in her work as poet and writer consists in building a bridge from one side of the river Rhine to the other, in order to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between France and Germany.

Her name was given to the nursery school of Village-Neuf. Built in 1953, the Lina Ritter School was totally renovated in 1992 and welcomes nowadays 106 children divided into 3 monolingual and 3 bilingual classes with 7 teachers.

Works: Peter vu Hàgebàch

The play ”Peter vu Hàgebàch” (Peter of Hagenbach) written just before World War I has remained extremly modern. Lina Ritter features a character belonging to the regional history in order to denounce the traps of populism and the excesses of absolute power. She claims with strength the ability of each human being, even the worst tyrant, to reach redemption and do good.

Annette, a meek and frail girl who is able to transform a tyrant by showing him the way to the value of good, embodies the power of love.

Poet of love for her homeland, of humanism and understanding between France and Germany, Lina Ritter remains more than ever alive in her works.

She rests in peace at the chuchyard of Village-Neuf. One of her numerous haikus is engraved on her tombstone: ”Worum trennt uns e Rhi? Àss mìr zeige chenne, wia me Brucke bäut.”

(Why does the Rhine divide us? To help us show how to build bridges). It is also to be seen on the ”Poet-path of the 3 countries”.