Jack Hamesh

Ingeborg Bachmann describes her meeting and friendship with Jack Hamesh in her ‘War Diary’, translated by Mike Lyons, which was published in MPT 3/3 Metamorphoses, 2005.

An Austrian Jew, Hamesh escaped to England (though already aged 18) on a Kindertransport in 1938. He came back to Austria with the British Army in 1945, working for Field Security, and in that capacity interviewed the eighteen-year-old Bachmann, in a way she felt to be hostile and sarcastic. But soon they were close friends. He became a welcome guest in her family home in the Gailtal, outside Klagenfurt. She describes him as ‘small, a bit ugly, glasses’. Their friendship flourished very quickly in a shared love of literature and ideas. Because of the war she had been starved of such conversation. She wrote in her diary, ‘This is the loveliest summer of my life, and if I live to be a hundred this spring and summer will still be the loveliest.’ 

Hamesh seems to have left Carinthia, for Palestine, badly smitten with Bachmann, in the early summer of 1946. These two letters featured in MPT 3/9 Palestine are the fullest he wrote to her and the second of them is the last that has been preserved. Whether the correspondence ceased then, is not known. Every effort has been made to trace Jack Hamesh and any family he might have in Israel, but so far without success.