Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement 1865-1933

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2011

230 Pages





1. Antisemitism, an Explanation of the Concept
2. Research on Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement
3. Research Method: Reading between the Lines - and Chronology of Antisemitic Incidents -
4. A Classification Scheme

I. The Moderate Liberal Women's Movement
1. The General German Women's Association
a) From the Women's Education Organization to the General
German Women's Association
b) Jewish Women in the General German Women's Association
c) Ignoring, a Form of an Antisemitic Attitude
d) Silence in the Face of Anti-Jewish Attacks
e) The Humanistic Ideal as a Christian Value?
2. German Teachers' Organizations
a) The Founding of Residences and Organizations for Women Teachers
b) The Israelite Women Teachers' Home Association
c) Institutional and Religious Exclusion of Jewish Women Teachers?
d) Reactions to Legal Discrimination against Jewish Teaching Staff
3. Nurses' Associations
a) A Short Overview of the History and Development of the Nursing Profession
b) The German Union of Jewish Nurses' Associations
c) The Red Cross: Friendly or Hostile to Jews?
d) Sister Agnes Karll: Ignorant or Antisemitic?

II. The Patriotic-Nationalist Women's Movement
1) The Patriotic Women's Associations
a) Historical Background, Foundation and Organization
b) Christian, Patriotic and Not at All Antisemitic?
c) Antisemitic "Tactlessness"
2) The National Women's Service
a) Development of the National Women's Service (NFD)
b) Jewish Women in the NFD
c) "Patriotism is not enough"
d) Self-Confident Jewish Women not wanted

III. The Nationalist-Imperialistic Women's Movement
1) The Women's League of the German Colonial Society
a) Beginning and Development
b) Nationalism and Racism as Eligibility Criteria
c) Antisemites among Colonialist Women?
2) The Naval League of German Women
a) Foundation and Political Objectives
b) Free of Antisemitic Attitudes?

IV. The Religious Women's Movement
1. The German Protestant Women's League
a) From the Protestant Social Women's Group to the Establishment of the German Protestant Women's League (DEF)
b) Antisemitic Sponsors of the DEF
c) Christian Chauvinism
d) Antisemitism within the German Protestant Women's League
2. The Catholic Women's League
a) The Development of the Catholic Women's League
b) Catholic Worldview as Demarcation Line
c) "Christian Superiority"
d) Relations with the Jewish Women's Movement
3. The Jewish Women's League
a) Founding and Development of the Jewish Women's League
b) The Fight against Antisemitism as Goal and Objective of the JFB
c) How did Jewish Feminists Experience Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement?

V. The Radical Liberal Women's Movement 119 1. The German Association for Women's Suffrage
a) Development and Tasks
b) Jewish Women and the Women's Suffrage
c) The Case of Käthe Schirmacher
d) A Resolution against Ritual Slaughter: Antisemitism or Animal Protection?
e) Reaction of the German Federation for Women's Suffrage
2. The Federation for the Protection of Motherhood
a) Eugenics and its Reception by the German Women's Movement
b) Founding and Goals of the Federation for the Protection
of Motherhood
c) New Ethics for the Improvement of the "Race"
d) Did the BfM Members Help Pave the Way to National Socialism?

VI. The Socialist Women's Movement
1. Working Women's Associations in Berlin
a) History and Development
b) Collaboration between Socialist Women and Adolf Stoecker?
2. SPD Women's Organizations
a) Integration of the Socialist Women's Movement into the SPD
b) Antisemitism in the SPD
c) Anti-Jewish Trends in the Socialist Theory of Emancipation?
d) Anti-Jewish Symbols Maintain their Power

VII. An Umbrella Organization: The Federation of German Women's Organizations
a) An Umbrella Organization for All Women's Associations?
b) A Shift to the Political Right
c) The Eighth General Assembly in Breslau 1908
d) "Jewified Liberalism"
e) Further Antisemitic Incidents

VIII. Brief Overview: Women's Associations in the Weimar Republic
a) From Kaiserreich to Weimar Republic
b) New Women's Associations of the Weimar Republic


List of Abbreviations



First of all, I would like to thank the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism in Jerusalem, which made this study and translation possible by providing me with a research grant.

Furthermore, I want to express my appreciation to the employees and assistants of the various archives and libraries in Israel, Germany and the United States. They supported my research through their knowledge, information, and assistance.

Last but not least, my particular thanks to Yossi Bezark who contributed to the present study his advice, listening and editing skills.

Jerusalem, August 2011

Heidemarie Wawrzyn


In the 19th century, the role of women had been transformed as a consequence of the economic and social changes brought about by Industrial Revolution. This led to social challenges and upheavals among women of the bourgeoisie and the working class.[1] From about the middle of the 19th century, the economic situation of middle-class women began to receive increasing public attention. Liberal politicians, and also women themselves, were looking for ways to give their unmarried daughters the means to earn a living. They wanted to solve the social problem, the Woman Question, by means of an improved education for women. Consequently, they began to found organizations for the advancement of education and employment opportunities for women. One of the early emancipation groups was the General German Women's Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein, ADF), established in 1865. Among its founders and participants were Jews and non-Jews as well.[2]

Jewish women in the Kaiserreich were affected both by the comprehensive social structural changes and by increasing antisemitism. Toward the end of the 19th century antisemitism became "respectable." After German unification in 1871 and almost complete Jewish emancipation, antisemitism manifested itself in large sections of the bourgeoisie, and in particular among the ruling class. Berlin academics openly discussed the assimilability of the Jews. In 1879, the historian Heinrich von Treitschke published the slogan: "The Jews are our misfortune!" The Berlin Court Chaplain Adolf Stoecker made a name for himself as an antisemitic agitator before working-class and petty bourgeois audiences using an anti-Jewish smear campaign.[3]

Progressive members of Jewish charitable women's organizations united in 1904 to establish the Jewish Women's League (Jüdischer Frauenbund, JFB).[4] In doing this, they created a place where they could cultivate their Jewish identity and pursue their social and feminist objectives within the Jewish community. From 1907 to 1933, this league was associated with the umbrella organization of the general German bourgeois women's movement, the Federation of German Women's Organizations (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine, BDF), which had been founded in 1894. The JFB was one of the largest affiliated organizations of the BDF. The members of the JFB saw themselves as an important factor in the German women's movement and believed that they had found, in the BDF, a reliable partner in the struggle against antisemitism.[5] But this women's alliance was shaky, and in May 1933 finally collapsed altogether.[6]

The present book offers a broad view of the German women's movement from 1865 to 1918, combined with an outlook on the events after World War I. It focuses on antisemitic incidents and anti-Jewish attitudes within the feminist movement before 1933.

The study at hand is based on the German edition Vaterland statt Menschenrecht. Formen der Judenfeindschaft in den Frauenbewegungen des Deutschen Kaiserreiches (1999).[7] It was revised, extended and updated with the latest research results on antisemitism and feminism in Germany before 1933 and then translated into English. Two women's organizations of nationalist and imperialistic orientation have been added. The new English edition also provides an overview on the development of women's associations and new parent organizations from the beginning of the Weimar Republic until the rise of the Nazi regime.

Until today this work is the only one that offers an overview of the entire early German women's movement. However, it does not claim to be complete. Additional research on organizations such as the Silesian Women's League and the German Women's Association for the Eastern Marches (Deutscher Frauenverein für die Ostmarken), has still to be done. It should be taken into account that the comprehensive overview at hand can only provide a general insight into the German women's movement. More detailed single studies on particular women's groups and biographies of certain feminists are necessary to bring more details on the question of antisemitism within the German emancipation movement to light.

The main goal of this book is the documentation of antisemitic incidents, attitudes and stereotypes in the German feminist movement before 1933. The core focus of this project lies on the various forms, expressions and manifestations of anti-Jewish attitudes within an emancipatory movement and less on their functions, causes and intensity. A comparison with clearly antisemitic organizations in pre-Nazi Germany, for example with the Pan-Germanic League (Alldeutscher Verband), was therefore not conducted. However, comparing the German women's movement to other European feminist movements could be helpful and enlightening to the question why Germany's feminist organizations took a different course.

The study at hand offers English-speaking readers a broad and critical view of the entire women's movement in Germany from 1865 to 1918, combined with an outlook on the events around 1933. It introduces the reader to fifteen different women's organizations, including bourgeois and socialist emancipation associations, religious and non-religious women's leagues, as well as international and nationalistic oriented pressure groups. Each chapter describes the founding and development of two or three associations, which shared the same political or religious orientation, followed by an analysis of the members' attitudes toward antisemitism in general and Jewish feminists in particular. The ideology, values and political views as well as the activity of each presented women's association have been analyzed with special respect to the members' anti-Jewish prejudices and attitudes. Archival sources, published and unpublished documents, found in more than twenty archives and libraries in Germany, the United States and Israel, provided the relevant data and information details for this research project.


1. Antisemitism, an Explanation of the Concept

Based on the political developments, social changes, and economic crises in the 19th and early 20th century in Germany, historians describe antisemitism as a rejection of emancipation and modernity. Some portray antisemitism as a response to economic crises or as the search for a "scapegoat." Some explain it either as a world outlook (Weltanschauung) or as the expression of a national identity crisis.[8] In the 1980/90s a euphemistic definition of antisemitism became popular, especially among German historians who adopted Shulamit Volkov's explanation of antisemitism as a cultural code.[9] In reference to Weimar Germany, antisemitism was often characterized as a political stream, a social mindset or an intellectual trend.[10]

These definitions are not satisfactorily applicable to the antisemitism of the German women's movement from 1865 to 1918.[11] The first German women's movement can be seen as a part or product of the modernization process to which the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund) and the Kaiserreich were subject. The feminists of that time did not oppose the economic or social transformation. They did not look for guilty parties or "scapegoats" for the solution of their problems. The founding of women's organizations indicates rather that their members fought for women's emancipation and looked for new options to solve their social and economic problems of their time by means of mutual aid (Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe).

The non-Jewish members of the women's movement came from Christian Protestant or Catholic milieus.[12] Their values and ideas were shaped by Christianity. A few of them grew up in families of Protestant ministers.[13] Others indicated in their biographies that they had participated in Christian religious education and Protestant confirmation classes.[14] In conclusion, even feminists who were members of non-confessional women's associations had undergone a Christian socialization. Growing up in a Christian environment and being part of German culture made them intentionally or unintentionally accustomed to the centuries-old tradition of Christian anti-Judaism which pictured the "Jew" as a negative archetype and emphasized the antagonism Christian vs. Jewish.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, many scientific disciplines, such as philology, ethnology (especially that of India) and history had this antagonism as the basis of their ideas and theories.[15] The theology of the Catholic and Protestant churches played a particularly strong part in the dissemination of the contrast between Jewish vs. Christian. From its beginnings, Christianity defined itself in dissociation from Judaism and used the denigration of Judaism to validate the Christian religion. This religiously-based antisemitism of the Middle Ages (ant-Judaism) became a supporting pillar of antisemitism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[16] Robert Wistrich[17] clearly demonstrates the Jewish vs. Christian antagonism in his works on antisemitism. From the Hellenistic period, through the Reformation and Enlightenment, and up to the Third Reich, he traced the line of anti-Jewish hostility. Whether it was religiously, politically or racially motivated, antisemites perceived and described Jews negatively, in order to accentuate their own development and superiority. With the spread of the Christian faith in Europe, this negative image of the Jews became an integral component of western culture. The presentation of the Jew as an outsider or non-conformist survived the rise and fall of all secular ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries.[18] The image of antisemitism has changed; it has been secularized and modernized. But Jews are still viewed as the prototypical "Other."[19] Based on these explanations, the term antisemitism refers here (in this study) to every form of hostility towards Jews. It applies to the various expressions and manifestations of anti-Jewish attitudes within the German women's movement regardless of their religious, political or racial motivation.

2. Research on Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement

The question of antisemitism within the German women's movement was not raised by women researchers before the 1980s. The British historian Richard Evans[20] was the first one to point out fascist and nationalist ideas and practices within the bourgeois feminist movement in Germany. In so doing, he compiled the thesis of "Protofascism" in the German women's movement.[21] In contrast to Evans' thesis, there appeared in 1983/84 publications by Hiltraut Schmidt-Waldherr, Irene Stoehr, Margarethe Mitscherlich and others, who saw women as the victims of male, patriarchal National Socialism.[22] A heated, controversial debate over the role of German women as victims or perpetrators in the Third Reich, and about a possible contribution of the first German women's movement to National Socialism, ensued.[23]

About a year later, Marion Kaplan and Marlis Dürkop published essays in which they discussed antisemitic incidents within the Federation of German Women's Organizations (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine, BDF).[24] Even though they did not directly refer to the theses mentioned earlier, they certainly created a bold contrast to them, by using detailed investigation of events in the BDF between 1904 and 1933/38. Thus they demonstrated the various forms of antisemitism within the bourgeois women's movement by means of concrete examples.

In the middle of the 1990s, the subject received even more attention: Irmgard Fassmann (1996) in her work Jewish Women in the German Women's Movement 1865-1919, investigated the position, activities and difficulties experienced by Jewish feminists in the bourgeois women's movement. In doing so, she pointed out antisemitic behaviors. In 1998, Mechthild Bereswill and Leonie Wagner published an anthology on the subject of the Bourgeois Women's Movement and Antisemitism. In it, the relationship of the bourgeois women's movement to antisemitism during the 19th and early 20th centuries was analyzed by the authors[25] from various points of view. In their essays they clearly demonstrated that feminists definitely made use of anti-Jewish theories and thoughts, as well as having antisemitic attitudes.[26] Heidemarie Wawrzyn's dissertation[27], which was published in 1999 under the title Vaterland statt Menschenrecht (Fatherland versus Human Rights) is, until today, the only work which traces antisemitism within the entire German women's movement. Wawrzyn investigated both the various branches of the bourgeois women's movement (moderate, radical, religious, nationalistic, etc.) and the socialist women's movement at the time of the German Empire. In her study, she elaborated the various and often subtle forms of antisemitism in practically all organized women's organizations.

Since 2000 an increasing number of scientific works have appeared which are concerned primarily with nationalistic and imperialistic women's organizations before 1933, see details below.[28] Susanne Omran and Stephanie Braukmann chose as their subject the perception of the "Jewish Question" in the women's movement. Susanne Omran (2000) concentrated on the bourgeois women's movement and analyzed antisemitic stereotypes and arguments in the writings of feminist protagonists on the subjects of race and gender. In 2007, Stephanie Braukmann applied her research interests to the anti-Jewish mindset within the socialist women's movement (1890-1914), thus greatly advancing Wawrzyn's relatively brief research on antisemitism in the socialist women's movement, and giving it a stable basis in original sources.[29]

3. Research Method: Reading between the Lines

Anti-Jewish attitudes within the women's movement led to ignoring, neglect and discrimination against Jewish feminists. These various and often subtle forms of antisemitism are difficult to detect and bring to light. Marlis Dürkop (1984) and Irmgard M. Fassmann (1996) stated that archival material provides only a small amount of evidence of antisemitic comments by non-Jewish feminists.[30] In 2000, Susanne Omran hastily jumped to the conclusion that even further research on this subject would prove that bourgeois feminists hardly excelled at antisemitic hostilities.[31] In my own research as well I realized that I could not, at first glance, find any additional proof of anti-Jewish attitudes, comments or incidents in the organizational documents and published literature of the women's movement. I decided to include in the research the perceptions and experiences of Jewish feminist members. They recorded their considerations, feelings, reactions to anti-Jewish expressions and antisemitic incidents in the German women's movement in writing, particularly in their memoirs and autobiographies, as well as in the publication of certain Jewish newspapers.[32] Tying together the perspectives of those who discriminated with the experiences of those discriminated against, made it possible to render visible the various expressions of antisemitism. With the help of these sources and perspectives, I was able to find additional proof of anti-Jewish mindsets and behaviors. Here are the antisemitic events in chronological order:[33]

1890s When the acting chairwoman, Mrs. Sombart, organized the election to the new board of the Stettin local group of the Patriotic Women's Association (VFV) , she read aloud the names of the former board members, but omitted the name of a Jewish board member.

1892-1914 Writers of the Social Democratic women's journal Die Gleichheit often employed antisemitic stereotypes, such as "Jewish profiteer," "haggler," and "hypercritic Pharisee."

1895 Elisabeth Gnauck-Kühne from the Protestant Social Women's Group wrote to Gertrud Dyrenfurth that her organization would not invite Jewish women to give speeches.

1896 Clara Zetkin reported on the International Socialist Workers' and Union's Congress in London and depicted Eastern European Jewish laborers in England in a very negative way ("fanatic," "brainless," "talmudicist lunatics").

June 1904 At the International Women's Congress in Berlin, Ika Freudenberg did not mention the Jewish religion in her speech on the relationship of the women's movement to the political and religious parties.

July 1904 Elsbeth Krukenberg, a member of the General German Women's Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein, ADF) and the German Protestant Women's League (Deutscher Evangelischer Frauenverein, DEF), called the founding of the Jewish Women's League (Jüdischer Frauenbund, JFB) a "curiosity."

Sep. 1904 At a charity party, organized by the VFV branch Bad Ems, poems were recited, which mocked Jews.

Nov. 1904 At a charity bazaar, organized by the VFV group in Czersk, a poem was performed which exaggeratedly caricatured the Jewish retailing class.

Dec. 1904 The VFV branch in Osche performed an antisemitic stage play, whereupon all Jewish members resigned from the association.

1908 At the Eighth General Meeting of the ADF in Breslau, the Christian women's associations were clearly favored over the JFB.

1909 The Association of Studying Women in Berlin accepted an invitation from which its Jewish members were explicitly excluded.

1912 The Congress for Women's Suffrage in Munich approved a resolution

against ritual slaughter.

1913 The Staatsbürger Zeitung defamed Henriette Goldschmidt in an antisemitic article. Gertrud Bäumer refused to take a position on the matter in the name of the Federation of German Women's Organizations (BDF).

1913 Marie Wegner, the president of the Silesian Women's League, expressed the opinion that in Cottbus a Jewish woman should not speak for the German women's movement.

1913/14 The members of the BDF and DEF boards of directors discussed whether

Alice Salomon should be appointed the successor to Gertrud Bäumer, "in spite of her Jewish origin".

1914 In the Evangelische Frauenzeitung an article was published about the “Jewifying” of Liberalism.

1915/16 In the 28th General Meeting of the ADF in Leipzig, Helene Lange gave a lecture in which she discussed the long-term relationship between the BDF and the religious women's leagues. While doing so, she did not mention the Jewish Women's League. A heated discussion erupted which lasted several months and reached a peak when Helene Lange accused the JFB members of being paranoid.

approx. 1916 Guida Diehl, member of the DEF and founder of the New Land Movement, criticized the National Women's Service for having too many Jewish and socialist members.[34]

1917 The Hamburg local group of the DEF expressed concern over the “radical and Jewish elements” in the City Federation of Hamburg Women's Organizations.

1918 Marie Wegner complained of Jewish dominance at the meetings of the

women's movement.

1919 The journal of the Naval League of German Women published an antisemitic article, whereupon a Jewish member left the organization.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

The leading members of the German women's movement strove for the political and religious neutrality of their umbrella organization. However, in reality the German women's movement was very diverse. Over the years, especially between 1890 and 1908, clear separations (the bourgeois and socialist women's movement) and secessions (the radical liberal representatives from the moderate liberals) occurred, and even a religious women's movement came into existence,[35][36][37] so that after the turn of the 20th century, several diverse feminist movements existed.

The Moderate Liberal Women's Movement

Women of the moderate-liberal women's movement identified themselves above all with bourgeois values and norms, and associated themselves with liberalism. Their goal was to influence bourgeois culture as a whole by means of their capabilities as wives and mothers. They tried to attain this goal primarily through the improvement of educational and employment opportunities for women.

The Radical Liberal Women's Movement

Radical-liberal women's organizations demanded women's political and sexual equality before the law as a natural right. They strove to change sexual morality and fought for woman suffrage. They considered women's access to political power the most important prerequisite in order to change the social and legal position of women. To achieve their goals, they advocated public political agitation, propaganda, and the political instruction of women.

The Religious Women's Movement

Protestant, Catholic and Jewish feminists joined their own respective religious women's leagues because they felt themselves obligated to their religious denomination and wanted to bring about a solution to the Woman Question on this basis. At the heart of their commitment were charity and social work.

The Patriotic-Nationalist Women's Movement

The unifying factor for the patriotic-nationalist women's organization was the conviction that women, like men, should express their love and loyalty to the fatherland, which they tried to prove by carrying out social and nursing tasks during war and emergency situations. During World War I, patriotic women – and many other active, religious and secular feminists as well – hoped that they would be granted more rights by men as a result of the patriotic duties they were performing between 1914 and 1918.

The Nationalist-Imperialistic Women's Movement

Nationalist-imperialistic women's groups can actually be seen as a sub-section of the patriotic-nationalist women's movement. However, these groups were corporate with male dominated imperialistic organizations whose political goals they shared, i.e. strengthening and expanding the German nation. Besides charity work, these women members decisively demanded participation in political affairs.

The Socialist Women's Movement

Members of this movement were convinced of the socialist ideal. They directed their energies toward the interests of working women. They strove for the establishment of a socialist society, which would of itself bring about equal rights for women. Class struggle always prevailed over gender struggle.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Leading women of the German women's movement, 1894

(Die Gartenlaube, 1894: 257)

I. The Moderate Liberal Women's Movement

1. The General German Women's Association

a) From the Women's Education Organization to the General German Women's Association

In the connection with the liberal-democratic movement at the time of the Revolution of 1848,[38] the first organized women's movement came into existence. It edited a nationwide publication The Frauen-Zeitung (Women's Newspaper), which was published by Louise Otto-Peters (1819-1895), a member of the democratic movement.[39] This first German women's movement consisted of local organizations which sought improvements for social, educational and political status of women. Democratic women's organizations , working women's associations and women's educational associations[40] were founded. But they suffered the fate of all political organizations in this period: they were subject to increasing repression through house searches, confiscations, and arrests of the most prominent members and in 1850 were finally banned by the Prussian Associations Law (Preußisches Vereinsgesetz).[41]

Fifteen years later (1865) Louise Otto-Peters, the teacher Auguste Schmidt (1833-1902) and other citizens of Leipzig, both men and women, met in the house of Henriette Goldschmidt (1825-1920), wife of the Reform rabbi Abraham Meyer Goldschmidt, in order to found a Women's Educational Association (Frauenbildungsverein, FBV). The main purpose of this Leipzig women's organization was the training and education of working and middle-class women. At the instigation of the Hungarian Jewish army captain Philipp Korn[42], who had become familiar with the feminist movement in America, the new women's association sponsored a conference of German women in Leipzig in October 1865. This first German women's conference, at which leading men from the workers' movement, such as August Bebel, were also present, gave birth to the General German Women's Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenverein, ADF). With its establishment, the women's movement, which had been crushed in the aftermath of the failed Revolution of 1848, began to revive.[43]

The general assemblies of the ADF always took place in a different city. They were always combined with a public Women's Day.[44] In addition to the Women's Days, a new women's organization was usually founded in the city hosting the event and subsequently, affiliated to the ADF. By 1908 the ADF consisted of more than 47 branches and local groups with approximately 19,000 members.[45] From 1866 on, the association published its own magazine, Neue Bahnen (New Pathways), which allowed for information exchange and relations among the member organizations.[46]

The main task of the ADF was the improvement of education and employment possibilities for women. In the first years of its existence, courses in manufacturing, job centers, typing pools and entertainment evenings for women were created.[47] These practical tasks were assumed by ADF local branches, while the main association concentrated its efforts on political activities.[48] By means of numerous petitions to the regime and to municipal authorities, it sought to improve the situation of working women, to achieve economic freedom for women, the entrance of women into all educational institutions as well as the admission of women to the study of medicine and philosophy. In addition, it petitioned for the improved education and working conditions of women teachers and in 1876/77 asked the Reichstag to assure the rights of women through civil legislation.[49] Other areas of endeavor were the care of women prisoners, the fight against prostitution and the care of children born out of wedlock.[50]

The leading members of the ADF tried to preserve something of the spirit of the Revolution of 1848, especially in their close relationship to the existing labor movement in Saxony. However, in subsequent decades, the organization made more and more compromises with the existing social order.[51] A change of trend took place, a new conceptual orientation, which had as its goal in the years after 1871 to abolish the confrontation between feminism and patriarchal society. The women's movement was supposed to be integrated into the existing, increasingly conservative society, and justify itself through the attempts of its representatives to struggle against social hardships and injustices. In the same spirit, the “natural” vocation of women as mothers and educators of future generations came increasingly to the fore.[52]

After World War I, the organization changed its name to German League of Women Citizens (Deutscher Staatsbürgerinnenverband, DStV). At that time, it had only 3,000 members. At its highest point, between 1890 and 1908, membership had risen to a total of 19,000.[53] In May 1933, several local groups of the DStV dissolved themselves; a few affiliated with the Deutsche Frauenfront, the National Socialist parent organization of the "coordination" of all German women's associations.[54]

b) Jewish Women in the General German Women's Association

The founding of the Women's Educational Association (Frauenbildungsverein, FBV) , from which the ADF evolved, took place in the home of Rabbi Goldschmidt. From 1866 or 1867[55] Henriette Goldschmidt belonged to the board of directors of the ADF. She occupied the position of vice-president for many years. After almost 40 years, she resigned her posts whereupon she was appointed an honorary member of the board of directors. At general assemblies, women's conventions and other activities of the ADF she often gave lectures, and was considered a popular and talented speaker.[56]

Jenny Hirsch (1829-1902), the daughter of a Jewish merchant, was for a short time in 1866 along with Louise Otto-Peters a co-publisher of Neue Bahnen. However, she gave up this position after getting a job as a reporter in the newly founded Lette Society[57] (Lette-Verein).[58] When the ADF held its 18th General Assembly in Frankfurt am Main in 1895, in connection with a public Women's Day, Henriette Goldschmidt and Jeanette Schwerin (1852-1899), a liberal Jew and co-founder of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für ethische Kultur (German Society for Ethical Culture), gave speeches.[59] At the Women's Day in Königsberg, in 1899, lectures were also given by Jewish women such as Bertha Pappenheim (1859-1936), founder of the JFB, and Alice Solomon, who in 1914 converted from Judaism to Protestantism.[60] Lina Morgenstern (1830-1909), known above all for her founding of the Berlin People's Soup Kitchen (Berliner Volksküchen), belonged for several years to the board of the ADF.[61] Jenny Apolant (1874-1925), sister of the Jewish finance minister Walter Rathenau, was a member of the board between 1910 and 1925. After World War I, she assumed the publication of Neue Bahnen in January 1920. Furthermore, Jenny Apolant was the first chairperson of the ADF local group in Frankfurt am Main, founded in 1895.[62]

More Jewish women are recorded as having been directors or co-workers in the local groups and affiliated associations of the ADF: Jeanette Schwerin was the second chairperson of the Berlin Women's Association (Berliner Frauenverein) that had been established as a local branch of the ADF by Helene Lange in 1894.[63] Rosa Vogelstein, wife of Rabbi Heinemann Vogelstein, founded a local ADF group in Stettin in 1892, and became its first chairwoman. After the founding of this local group, Auguste Schmidt and Helene Lange were often visitors at Rosa Vogelstein's house.[64] Elsa Meyring, who came from a liberal Jewish home, participated in this Stettin women's group from about 1904.[65]

These examples bear witness to a very friendly relationship between Jewish and non-Jewish members of the ADF . Furthermore, contacts were not limited to the organizational level, but were also of private and social nature. For example, it is known that Auguste Schmidt was not only friendly with Jewish families, but she also invited Jenny Hirsch to her home in the 1880s.[66] The friendly, private relationship between Auguste Schmidt and Jenny Hirsch is worth mentioning and emphasizing, since in general – as Marion Kaplan has demonstrated in an essay – the social interaction between Jewish and non-Jewish women at this time was almost completely restricted to visits made out of duty or politeness. Invitations extended in a friendly framework seem to have been the exception.[67] These facts could lead to the conclusion that the members of the ADF were imbued with some of the liberal, emancipatory spirit of the 1848 Revolution.

But in the journal Neue Bahnen, there are indications of a different sort. At certain events like birthdays, anniversaries or deaths, the leading Jewish members of the ADF were mentioned and praised in the journal. Their importance to the German women's movement was always emphasized; their social commitment, their literary activities and their family ties were openly recognized. But never in these texts was their relationship to Judaism referred to.[68] An explanation for this behavior can be found in the work of Thomas Nipperdey, who wrote Religion im Umbruch (1870-1918) (Religion in Upheaval). He demonstrates that in the bourgeoisie during a period of secularization, work and family became important basic values:[69] “One doesn't work in order to live, but rather lives in order to work … The practical religion of the middle class is first and foremost that of work and family, and it is spreading among the peasantry and the 'respectable' working class."[70] Based on this perception, it can be assumed that Jewish women in the ADF were judged by this value system. Other values however – such as Jewishness as a religious or ethnic affiliation – were ignored, as we will see in the following passages.

c) Ignoring, a Form of an Antisemitic Attitude

From June 12th to 18th 1904, the Congress of the International Council of Women[71] took place in Berlin. During the days of the convention - on June 15th - Jewish feminists gathered in order to found the Jewish Women's League (Jüdischer Frauenbund, JFB).[72] Shortly before or after the establishment of the JFB, Ika Freudenberg, one of the leaders of the Munich women's movement, gave a lecture for all congress participants on the relationship of the women's movement to the political and religious parties. Jewish women present there complained that the Jewish religion had not been mentioned with even one word.[73] Elsbeth Krukenberg, who at this time was responsible for editing Neue Bahnen, commented on the protest of the Jewish feminists as follows:

"As a curiosity, it should be noted in passing that on the day after this lecture, Jewish women complained that the relationship to the Christian faiths, but not to their Mosaic religion, had been discussed. A sign of how splendidly far we have excelled at emphasizing religious schisms and differences."[74]

Further protests and declarations followed. The speaker Ika Freudenberg regretted the incident, and explained that the lack of mention did not signify any exclusion of Jewish women, but rather their inclusion:

“Henriette Goldschmidt, Jeanette Schwerin, Hedwig Dohm, Alice Solomon and many others belong to the interconfessional[75] women's movement. My report was by no means intended to exclude the Jewish element, but on the contrary, took for granted its inclusion.”[76]

She ended her explanation with a reference that those hearing the subject of the lecture had perhaps misunderstood it. Her intention, she said, had not been to speak about religions, but rather about the religious parties.[77] Bertha Pappenheim, who had initiated the founding of the JFB at the International Women's Congress, expressed her dissatisfaction at the lack of mention of the Jewish religion as follows:

I do not know Mrs. Freudenberg personally, and therefore do not know what subjective factor might have caused her to be so nonobjective as to so undervalue the Jewish faith … As soon as the religious question is broached, however, it is unfair to treat Judaism the same way that many men today still believe that womankind should be treated, either as a necessary evil or a nonentity … The lofty principle of the congress … has been the appreciation of the individual woman regarding her achievements on behalf of the collective and in her pursuit of what is good … And these uplifting appeals should be valid for all women, even Jewish women, who have stalwartly worked for the success of the Congress and struggled so long for women's issues, both using their special unique characteristics, and partially in spite of them."[78]

Bertha Pappenheim also took offense that it was called a “curiosity” (Kuriosum) that

" ... Jewish women wish to see their religious views validated and esteemed just as Catholic and Protestant women do theirs. – Therefore also the reproach of separatism (Sonderbündelei) with regard to the founding of the Jewish Women's League. – A strange reproach given at the Congress of the International Council of Women, the League of Leagues!"[79]

Apparently, some members of the women's movement were left with the impression that the JFB had come into existence as a reaction to Ida Freudenberg's lecture.[80] At this point, Henriette Goldschmidt, the vice chairwoman of the ADF, entered the dispute. She tried to eliminate discord by quoting a phrase of Louise Otto-Peters from 1883:

"We have no religious aspirations; we want to bring about a human ideal and every man and woman of whatever faith is welcome to join us."[81]

She then continued:

“Auguste Schmidt and the board of directors worked with the same outlook, and only thus has it been possible for me to be active on the board up until now ... But in our stormy times, so tossed by political and religious partisanship, it may have become more difficult for the contemporary generation to abide by this viewpoint, than it has been to us, who matured in our mission in the clear and pure atmosphere of our humanistic poets and philosophers, in an atmosphere unpoisened by antisemitism. The current representatives of the women's movement have also seen their task as a humanitarian question rather than a racial or religious one. Due to this fact, women of Jewish religion participated in the work in such a way that the history of the German women's movement cannot be written without mentioning them."[82]

Convinced that the women's movement was about humanity, rather than race or religion, Henriette Goldschmidt then also explained the foundation of the JFB:

"The Jewish Women's League owes its existence above all to the realization that it is necessary to bring a large number of well-off women, who wish to give charitably out of social conscience, into the world of social work. Social misery, mostly suffered by Jews who emigrated from Galicia, Romania and Russia to settle in Germany, is indescribable. These families live in a social ghetto even after the 2nd and 3rd generation. Bringing them into German culture will be a primary task of the League. It [the League] will not introduce any religious opposition into our women's movement: it takes up a task which the Federation of German Women's Organizations cannot perform … I hope I have succeeded in settling this matter. I would regard it as an achievement in the struggle for the human ideal."[83]

Henriette Goldschmidt's reasoning derives from her efforts to emphasize what unites and connects women in the women's movement, namely bringing about the human ideal. To this end, she obviously bases her ideas on those of the French Revolution and the Revolution of 1848.[84] Moreover, she alludes to antisemitism, which in her opinion had poisoned the pure and clear atmosphere of the humanist thinkers and poets, and “like a foreign bumpkin” had even forced its way into the women's movement.[85] The controversy was finally ended by the editors of Neue Bahnen, as they declared Henriette Goldschmidt's contribution to the final point of the dispute:

"In conclusion, we give the final word to the esteemed vice-chairwoman of the General German Women's Association, as the most expert arbiter of this matter, and regard this matter as closed. The Editors."[86]

In 1915, the 28th General Assembly of the ADF in Leipzig, a similar event occurred in which Jewish women were once again overlooked. The main focus of the assembly was the 50th anniversary of the association's existence. At the time of this celebration, Helene Lange, who had been chairperson since 1902,[87] gave a lecture in which she dwelt on the development of the women's movement and the long-time relationship between the Federation of German Women's Associations (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine, BDF) and the religious women's leagues. In her speech she did not mention the JFB whereupon the members of the JFB sent a letter to Helene Lange on October 12, 1915, which was never answered by Helene Lange. Their letter reads as follows:

“The Jewish Women's League, which includes a total of 43,000 Jewish women, is writing to ask why, my Dear Mrs. Lange, in speaking of the Protestant and Catholic women's leagues at the convention in Leipzig, we were not mentioned."[88]

Until June 1916, a tense and excited correspondence took place, in which various board members of different organizations participated.[89] Its peak occurred in the statement of Helene Lange to Eva von Roy of the National Women's Service (Nationaler Frauendienst, NFD) and to Alice Bensheimer, the secretary of the BDF. She wrote to Eva Von Roy on February 11th, 1916 that the “inappropriate behavior” of the JFB did not please her and that she would not answer the JFB's letter, because it included "the suspicion of antisemitic opinions."[90] To Alice Bensheimer, she once again repeated that she categorically refused to be reprimanded by the JFB. Her letter to Alice Bensheimer ended with a reproach to the members of the JFB that “a kind of persecution complex” had spread among them.[91]

In the sharp words of the first chairperson, all right to criticism was denied to Jewish women. Their request to be mentioned equally with the two other large religious unions in the German women's movement was pathologized. Jewish women were defined as mentally ill.

d) Silence in the Face of Anti-Jewish Attacks

Henriette Goldschmidt had been – as already mentioned – a member of the ADF board for almost 40 years and had held the office of vice-president for many years. In Leipzig, she brought into existence many social institutions, such as kindergartens and a women's university.[92] In light of the position she held in the ADF, and of her very active and fruitful cooperation in the women's movement, it is simply astonishing that the ADF board members remained silent when she was publicly attacked in the press.

On November 5th 1913, the Staatsbürger Zeitung, a Berlin daily, published the following item:

"The education of children and women in Leipzig in the hands of a rabbi's wife. The L.N.N. [ Leipziger Neue Nachrichten ] announced: 'The Organization for Families and People's Education, founded in Leipzig in 1871 (chairwoman is the Jewess Henriette Goldschmidt) gives us in its report at hand, of 1910-12, a delightful picture of the development and growth of the facilities'.”[93]

In the news item, the institutions belonging to this education organization are then named, as well as the number of children, schoolgirls, students, etc. who had attended them. To which the brief commentary concludes:

"So Jewry succeeds, even in a city like Leipzig, in subjecting all education, to the extent it is in the hands of women, to Jewish influence and decision-making authority! Yet another reason that the time has urgently come to organize antisemitic women's leagues."[94]

The JFB, of which Henriette Goldschmidt was an honorary member, addressed the board of the BDF shortly afterward, and asked its members to publish a rebuttal:

“My Dear Dr. [Bäumer; H.W.] !

The board meeting of the Jewish Women's League, on the 23rd of this month, discussed the enclosed item from the 'Staatsbürger Zeitung'. We are of the opinion, along with many persons associated with the history of the German women's movement, that the 'Jewess and rabbi's wife', Henriette Goldschmidt, has so advanced the lives of women and German culture, and has so enriched them even into her old age, that an unqualified statement as the aforementioned should not remain uncontradicted.

We are also bringing this item to your attention because we have learned that this token of the ingratitude of the German nation, whose true servant 'the Jewess' Mrs. Goldschmidt has always been, has come to the attention of this elderly lady and has caused her understandable pain. Trusting in your sense of fairness, we leave it to your discretion to take some official stance on the matter."[95]

Gertrud Bäumer tried, in her letter of December 4th, 1913, to play down the meaning of this news item. In her letter, she wrote:

"She [Henriette Goldschmidt, H. W.] must not confuse the Staatsbürger Zeitung with the 'nation' and speak, in cases of attack from this quarter, of the ingratitude of the 'nation'.”[96]

On December 12th of the same year, another short notice was published in the Frankfurt Israelitisches Familienblatt:

“[At the board meeting of the JFB; H.W.] an item from the Staatsbürger Zeitung was read aloud in which the fact that the rabbi's wife and Jewess, Henriette Goldschmidt, had acquired such great influence on the young women of Leipzig was ominously and spitefully discussed; and that this was another reason to organize antisemitic women's leagues. It was decided to inform Miss Gertrud Bäumer, the chairwoman of the Federation of German Women's Organizations, of this item."[97]

Whether and how this incident was resolved cannot be found in the sources, nor can it be determined if the members of the ADF did perhaps take a stand. What Irmgard Maya Fassmann has already shown in her research on Jewish women in the German women's movement is clearly confirmed in here: there were polite to friendly relations between Jewish and non-Jewish feminists. But in times of crisis there was no effective partisan support or official solidarity.[98]

However, there was one case of official support in 1901. Else Hasse, who wrote many articles in Neue Bahnen in the years 1900-1902, called for readers, under the headline “Women Against Antisemitism,” not to take part in the anti-Jewish harassment campaigns and spitefulness.[99] This article deserves particular attention because of its rarity. In looking through several women's magazines, I was able to find only one other stance against antisemitism by Clara Zetkin, in Die Gleichheit (The Equality).[100] Elsewhere, as mentioned before, official support was absent. The silence prevailed.

But although the appeal "Women Against Antisemitism" was notable because of its public support , it also contained anti-Jewish stereotypes and thinking. The writer praised the Jewish philosophers, thinkers and poets, as well as the “Jewish Intellects” and the Jewish feminists in the German women's movement. But with all her positive emphasis, Else Hasse apparently made use of anti-Jewish metaphors as well. She spoke of the “international banking”, of the “Jewish mercantile spirit” and of the good fortune of Jewish entrepreneurs in business, which “stirs up antisemitism.”[101] According to Else Hasse's statements, antisemitism is an injustice, “which for millennia has made an entire people responsible and punishable for the crimes of a few”.[102] By crime she referred to the crucifixion of Jesus. This can clearly be concluded by a short story, which she had added to her article. Although it was her intention to fight antisemitism, she passed on anti-Jewish thinking in its clearest form, connected with the well-known anti-Jewish, anti-Judaistic stereotypes prevalent at the time.

e) The Humanistic Ideal as a Christian Value?

The “humanization of women", humanistic thinking, independence from any political and religious partisanship - these were the ideals and goals of the founders of the ADF.[103] But in practice, things were often quite different.

At the time of the founding of the Catholic Women's League (Katholischer Frauenbund, KFB) in 1903, Elsbeth Krukenberg wrote in Neue Bahnen:

“What does the recent establishment mean for us, the members of secular groups? There seems to be a certain similarity between this Catholic Women's League and the Protestant Women's League, which also seems to be of the opinion, repeatedly contested by us, that they are the only representative of Christian women.”[104]

In the following lines, the fear is expressed that the KFB, supported by the Catholic press and “serious-minded Catholic men,” could achieve size and significance. She refers to the existence and growth of the interconfessional[105] women's movement (interkonfessionelle Frauenbewegung) and to the upcoming convention of the International Council of Women in June 1904.

“It is hardly possible to put an additional women's world organization at the side of the International Council of Women, which reaches across all countries . But the ideas which drive this International Council of Women are rooted in what we have learned to recognize as fundamental Christian views: the struggle against what is base, tolerance and righteous appreciation of that which strives toward light. We women have joined together, in order to make the following words come true: 'Love your neighbor as yourself' and 'Peace on Earth.' - Our sisters who are members of the Catholic Women's League can have no other aspirations ... But that is not the goal of women, to constantly stir up struggle and strife, but rather to bring about true love of one's neighbor, to introduce an internalization and recovery of the life of our people – for that reason they come together. For that purpose, all, who think seriously and truthfully, are welcome to join us.”[106]

The members of the KFB were accepted as "sisters" and thereby as belonging to the German women's movement, although their faith was an important, perhaps the most important, factor in their identity. For religious and secular feminists, a Christian outlook generally provided the common foundation. But when the JFB was established, Elsbeth Krukenberg spoke of a “special club" (Sonderbund) and feared religious factionalism.[107] Her Jewish collaborators could not be considered benevolent like the Catholic women, who founded their work on a Christian mind-set. If Christianity formed the link between members of the bourgeois women's movement, where did Jewish feminists find their place and recognition within the movement?

Henriette Goldschmidt, who had tried to mediate in the conflict which arose at the convention of the ICW, spoke of a realization of the human ideal as the foundation and aim of the women's movement. She emphasized that the JFB would not introduce any religious opposition into the movement, but rather would strive to introduce Jewish fringe groups into German culture.[108] Henriette Goldschmidt worked on the assumption that all political and religious questions were subordinate to the realization of the human ideal. But her position was probably not shared by her Christian co-activists.

As early as 1849, Louise Otto-Peters defined, in a lecture, the principle of general equality as a Christian value.[109] It is quite apparent in her speech that she gave before the democratic women's association in Oederan how rooted Louise Otto-Peters was in Protestant tradition and thinking. She addressed her listeners as “my Christian sisters,”[110] deprecated the Roman Catholic Church,[111] praised Martin Luther and the Reformation,[112] and professed the conviction that the “heathenish republics” of Greece and Rome required the Christian mind-set in order to be perfected.[113]

Helene Lange too, despite aspiring to religious neutrality, used Christian values as a standard. This is clear in a memorial she wrote on the death of Jeanette Schwerin. Jeanette Schwerin had hoped -- like many Jewish women who worked in interconfessional feminist organizations – to build a basis for achieving “the brotherhood of people” through ethical principles and social endeavors.[114] Helene Lange wrote of her:

“There was in all her human relationships something of Nathan's[115] mature world outlook, of his mildness, which stemmed from moral grandeur. And many, many people have learned to apply the friar's words to her: There never was a better Christian!”[116]

These expressions clearly demonstrate that the non-Jewish leaders of the ADF saw equality, freedom, democracy and philanthropy as Christian values, and claimed them as values which Christianity had brought to mankind. In light of this arrogant claim, Jewish women had only two options if they wanted their collaboration to be recognized: they had either to convert or to agree not to live their Jewish identity in public. But whenever they were active in the pursuit of equality, freedom and philanthropy, and at the same time emphasized their Jewishness, they brought the image of the superiority of Christian Protestant culture into question.

In summary, Jewish women were active in leading positions (chairpersons, vice-presidents, editors) of the association or in its affiliated local groups during the total length of the German Empire. In the 1880s and 1890s – that is during a time which was notorious for the public defamation of Jewish citizens (e.g. the Berlin Movement of 1879-1885), for the establishment of antisemitic interest groups and for the accession to the German parliament of antisemitic members (1893-1904)[117] – friendly relations and reciprocal private visits between Jewish and non-Jewish members are attested to. In 1901, Else Hasse sent a clear signal against the anti-Jewish instigation of her time with her article “Women Against Antisemitism”. However, the tradition of anti-Jewish metaphors in her article already shows to how great an extent the thought of German feminists were minted by centuries-old anti-Judaism.

Just after the turn of the 20th century, an increase in anti-Jewish attitudes can be observed in the available sources. In 1904, Elsbeth Krukenberg described the desire of Jewish feminists for visibility as a “curiosity”, a strange aspiration, and thus called the recently founded JFB a Jewish Sonderbund, a "Jewish special club."[118] These words made clear her lack of understanding and sensitivity to her Jewish co-activists' problems and circumstances. In 1913, the members of the ADF remained silent when the social activities of a long-standing member of the board, Henriette Goldschmidt, were attacked in the press. The controversies of 1915/1916 show a clear sharpening of the rejection of those Jewish women who wanted their Jewish religion and background to be mentioned within the women's movement. Silence turned into exclusion and denunciation during World War I.

2. German Teachers' Organizations

The ADF had – as described in the previous chapter – already committed itself to the increase of employment possibilities for middle-class women from 1865. One of their goals was to achieve better education for women school teachers. In order to concentrate on the promotion of those interests specific to their profession, teachers grouped together in subsequent years and decades in independent organizations. After the founding of the BDF, the umbrella organization of the German women's movement, some of these women teachers' groups became corporate members of it.

a) The Founding of Residences and Organizations for Women Teachers

Around the middle of the 19th century, the Woman Question began to play an important role among teachers. Due to social and economic changes, many daughters of the middle class were forced to seek employment. The acute shortage of teachers at this time, and the growing demand for education, had as a consequence that many unmarried women took on the profession of teacher or governess. For example, the number of women public primary school teachers (Volksschullehrerinnen) in Prussia in the second half of the 19th century rose dramatically. In 1886, 6,848 women teachers were employed at public primary schools; by 1891, their number had increased to 8,494 and by 1896 there were 10,000 women teaching at public primary schools.[119]

Their entrance into the public schools was not without tensions and difficulties for the women teachers. There male colleagues viewed the schools as their domain, and feared the new, female competition.[120] Very early on, women teachers recognized the need for an independent professional organization to represent their interests. And so by the beginning 1870s, the first women teachers associations had sprung up in various locations, with the goal of improving the legal, economic and educational position of this profession.[121] The oldest organization of this kind was the Association of German Women Teachers and Governesses (Verein Deutscher Lehrerinnen und Erzieherinnen), which was founded in Berlin in 1869. Its main concern was to set up and endow a home for retired women teachers.[122] Female teachers were not only at a substantial disadvantage to their male colleagues with respect to education, salary and professional position, but also state pensions were “pitiful.”[123] For these reasons, many women teachers' associations considered it an important task to provide retired colleagues with a place where they could find accommodation, care and companionship corresponding to their social position and financial means.[124] Several more female teachers' associations were founded at regional level, which united to form the General German Women Teachers' Association (Allgemeiner Deutscher Lehrerinnenverein, ADLV) under the guidance of Auguste Schmidt in 1890.[125]

At the fifth general assembly of the ADLV in Danzig in 1899, the opening of a home of the Women Teachers' Association of Hesse in Darmstadt, was announced, which had taken place in August 1898. It was pointed out that the establishment of such a home contributed to the material improvement of the teaching profession.[126] In 1900, the Bavarian Women Teachers' Association convened in Munich. At its first annual general meeting, the establishment of a rest and retirement home was discussed. A great part of the discussion was about the questions of sponsorship and finance.[127] In 1903, the Protestant Women's League (Deutscher Evangelischer Frauenbund, DEF ) advised the readers of its periodical Mitteilungen des DEF (Communications of the DEF), that they should concern themselves with their material necessities in old age, given the growing number of single, working women.[128] In the same year, the ADLV, on the occasion of its eighth general meeting in Dresden, published a list of residences for women teachers in Germany and abroad, in order to inform its members of the names and addresses of rest and retirement facilities.[129]

b) The Israelite Women Teachers' Home Association

Until World War I, Jewish women teachers remained disadvantaged with respect to their Christian colleagues. A detectable change first began when, due to numerous military call-ups, there was a shortage of teachers, and Prussian school authorities were forced to make use of Jewish women teachers.[130] In 1910, the Israelitisches Familienblatt declared: “No one could be more without rights than the Jewish woman teacher in Prussia.[131]

Hence, Jewish teachers and governesses joined together to represent their interests. They also strove to set up residences for women teachers.[132] In 1891, Pauline Münchhausen suggested in the magazine Die Lehrerin (The Woman Teacher), the establishment of a Jewish retirement home. Inspired by her own experiences as a Jewish private tutor and governess, she sought out interested parties and benefactors for her plan. Eight years later, on February 27th, 1899, the Israelite Women Teachers' Home Association (Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim) was established, and on November 5th, 1899, the dedication of a temporary residence in a rented apartment in Berlin's Steglitz district took place. In March 1903, a new building for the Israelite Women Teachers' Home in the Lichterfelde neighborhood was completed and occupied.[133]

The lifestyle in this residence corresponded to that of a “respectable middle-class family pension”, with regular meals, heat, bathing facilities and lighting”.[134] The residence offered religious Jewish women the opportunity to live in accordance with Jewish tradition, and to observe ceremonial and ritual laws.[135] In case of illness, the Protestant welfare organization provided free nurses, and the Jewish community hospital took on the treatment of patients from the Teacher's Home. Lectures and celebrations brought excitement and variety to the residents, and strengthened their Jewish consciousness.[136]

More than fifteen local groups from all over Germany belonged to the Israelite Women Teachers' Home Association. They supported its goals both ideologically and professionally.[137] The local group in Hanover, for example, gave two thirds of its donations for the maintenance of the home in Berlin-Lichterfelde. From 1899 to 1929, the home was occupied by a total of 53 women teachers. In addition, teachers needing rest and still active in the profession found temporary accommodation there.[138]

When Pauline Münchhausen designed and promoted the plan for an old age home for Jewish women teachers, she was thinking not only about the economic disadvantages they suffered because of their gender, but also about the discrimination against them because they were Jewish. This is apparent from a lecture she gave in March 1900 at the general assembly of the local group in Stettin:

"All the paths to a long-term, secure position in public schools and institutes are open in general to Christian women teachers. They can exercise their professions, well-paid and without care, for they can expect a legally sanctioned and adequate pension in the case of old age or illness. On the other hand, we all know what the situation is regarding permanent positions for Jewish women teachers ... How insecure and inadequate is their existence ..., how little the recompense for their work! The numerous existing retirement homes and women teachers' homes provide no opportunities for Jewish teachers. Often, the establishment of these institutions is partially funded with the assistance of Jewish money, and they are labeled as 'interconfessional', but they have a Christian character and corresponding statutes. Can we, for example, consider ... a retirement home as truly “interconfessional” when it has a single Jewish woman among its 32 residents? Almost all homes offer only a free, unfurnished apartment, light, heat, and at best medical assistance. The applicants must have put by, therefore, an amount of money sufficient to live on, which a Jewish private woman teacher could never even earn, much less save. If a few are able, through family help or by a lucky coincidence, to have a small income, these institutions are close for the majority of them, first because of their religion, and then because of their penury."[139]

Aside from the fact that the speaker puts the material situation of the non-Jewish women teachers in rather too positive light, these lines clearly express that there were tensions and exclusions among teachers because of religious differences and affiliations. Also in Der Gemeindebote (Community Herald),[140] it is repeatedly mentioned that Jewish women teachers were banned from specifically Christian retirement homes and that interconfessional homes accepted Jewish candidates only rarely.[141] Various reasons were provided to explain this discrimination – from the strong demand for places by non-Jewish teachers on the one hand, to the bad financial situation of Jewish women teachers on the other, which made it impossible for them to pay the fees at such a home. Again and again, “religious quarrels and disputes” were mentioned in the reports in Der Gemeindebote.[142] The words of Rabbi Weiße at the dedication of the Israelite Women Teachers' Home also confirm this:

"We don't want to practice charity; we only want to exercise equal rights, and to forget those sins of religious conflict."[143]

What appearance did this religious conflict take? Do statutes and reports of non-Jewish women teachers' associations provide information about it? How was the socio-political context for Jewish women teachers in the Kaiserreich comprised, and how far can it answer the question of religious discrimination among German teachers?

c) Institutional and Religious Exclusion of Jewish Women Teachers?

As a result of the Prussian Emancipation Edict of 1812, which was supposed to give male and female Jewish citizens equality regardless of their religious creed, Judaism was no longer regarded as a religion, but rather as a Konfession (denomination), like the Protestant and Catholic creeds.[144] This term was also adopted by the women's movement, whose representatives often called the Jewish religion a Konfession and sometimes spoke about "drei Konfessionen" (three denominations: Protestant, Catholic and Jewish).[145] A women's organization, defined as independent of the Jewish and Christian institutionalized religions and open to women of all faiths, was often called and described as "interkonfessionell" (interconfessional).[146] If one researches the articles of various women teachers' organizations and investigates associations which called themselves interconfessional, the German concept of Konfession at that time must be taken into account.

The statutes of the Frankfurt Women Teachers' Home, Inc. state in paragraphs 1 and 4 that teachers in Frankfurt in need of recuperation can be accepted, and that “anyone” can become a member.[147] The Leipzig Association of Women Teachers, founded in 1888, had established a teachers' home for the benefit of its members, and paragraph 4 of its statutes declared that any qualified woman teacher or governess could become a regular member.[148] The statutes of the Pension Association for Unmarried Women Teachers (Pensionsverein unverheirateter Lehrerinnen), founded in 1863 in Hamburg, state in the first paragraph that:

“Any unmarried lady whose profession is teacher or governess can become a member of the Pension Association for Unmarried Women Teachers, without regard to their Christian or Mosaic faith."[149]

In a special issue of the Lehrerinnenhort (Women Teacher's Shelter), an advertisement was published on June 22, 1905 which announced the creation of a new kind of annuity insurance for women teachers who did not already have a pension, especially private teachers. This pension plan was open to all teachers without regard to denomination.[150] Further investigation into the articles of women teachers' organizations also reveals that there was no statutory exclusion or discrimination against persons by reason of their religious affiliation.[151] Yet some associations established certain regulations in regard to the acceptance of members which gave the board of directors, or some other responsible committee, broad freedom of action to choose applicants. This is confirmed, for example, in the membership of the aforementioned Leipzig Association of Women Teachers: “In cases of doubt, the board of directors decides concerning admission."[152] And in the regulations of the Frankfurt Women Teachers' Home, Inc., it is stated:

“Frankfurt women teachers or governesses requiring recuperation can be admitted to the home in accordance with the house rules. The administrative council of the association decides on admission in every single case. It also decides whether an applicant is to be regarded as meeting the conditions of being a Frankfurt teacher or governess."[153]

Whether the statutory limitations were used in order to exclude Jewish women because of their religion cannot be determined in the available documents from non-Jewish associations. However, an article in Der Gemeindebote provides a closer idea of the reality to which Jewish women were subjected. In the section for Correspondence and News, it was announced that a sanatorium had opened in Ems for women teachers without regard to “denomination and nationality.” Furthermore, it was clearly pointed out to the readers that:

“Teachers of the Jewish faith … will be regarded in all matters, for example in admission, exactly like all others.”[154]

This citation makes it clear that in reality, there were boards of associations and homes which applied differential admissions criteria for Jewish and non-Jewish applicants, even when their official stated goal was to support teachers without regard to religion.

Moreover, it can be determined that the interconfessional associations and homes had a strongly Christian atmosphere. Pauline Münchhausen criticized in here lecture in Stettin the fact that the institutions, retirement homes and women teachers' homes, may have been called interconfessional, but had a thoroughly Christian character.[155] The dominant Christian (i.e. Protestant) character was also felt and complained about by Catholic women teachers. In a letter from the board of the Association of Catholic German Women Teachers (Verein katholischer deutscher Lehrerinnen), founded in 1885, the urgency to establish their own teachers' home was based on the fact that although Catholic women teachers could be admitted to existing Protestant and secular associations, they ran the risk of “having their religious and church sensibilities hurt”, because of the preponderantly Protestant orientation of these institutions.[156]

As sources from the research context (e.g. financial and annual reports) show, the Christian nature of an association was expressed in the cycle of holidays (St. Nicholas Day, Christmas, New Year's Eve etc.), which ignored the Jewish holidays. And it was visible in the far higher number of Protestant residents compared to the number of Jewish ones.[157] It is easy to understand how this state of affairs led to a situation in which Jewish women admitted to such a home found themselves a visible and palpable minority.

d) Reactions to Legal Discrimination Against Jewish Teaching Staff

The constitutional charter for Prussia of December 5th, 1848 declared the rights of state and civil rights of citizens to be independent of religious affiliation. As a result, Jews gained the right to work as teachers in public schools. But in the constitutional charter of 1850, it was added that at public primary schools, “the religious conditions should be factored in as much as possible.”[158] The preservation of the religious orientation in public schools provided, from that point on, the administrative guidelines in the Prussian regime when hiring Jewish public primary school teachers. This demand was reflected in various official regulations in the 1890s, which made the employment of Jewish teachers at public elementary schools dependent on the Jewish students attending the school in question.[159] The consequences of such a decree were that Jewish teachers lost their eligibility for positions or were transferred to a different school.[160] The boards of the Jewish community in Berlin and of the JFB as well as various Jewish newspapers protested and complained about this legal discrimination for many years to come.[161] But from the non-Jewish side, and in particular from the women teachers' associations, whose declared goal was to further the material and legal betterment of women teachers, official position statements were rare.

The Association of Berlin Public Primary School Teachers (Verein Berliner Volksschullehrerinnen) published a resolution in November 1895 expressing its deep regret concerning:

"The damage which Jewish women teachers must suffer to their professional activity, as a consequence of the government's position, as the government is increasingly trying to limit, or dispense with, the hiring of Jewish public primary school teachers.”[162]

From the 1898/99 annual report of the New Public Primary School Women Teachers' Association (Neuer Volksschullehrerinnen-Verein) in Berlin, one learns that in November 1898, the association drafted two petitions to the municipality and the Royal Provincial School Council in which they advocated the equal treatment of Jewish women teachers.[163] These proposals met with some success, since the following was published in the annual report:

“The petitions were drafted and submitted … Although we cannot hope for a satisfactory basic solution to the question at present, nevertheless, the proceedings between the municipal and royal authorities have resulted in the affected teachers being able to undertake an academic post.”[164]

These protests are remarkable, since antisemitism in party politics had reached a high water mark in the 1890s. Various organizations such as the Agrarian League (Bund der Landwirte) and the German National Association of Commercial Employees (Deutschnationale Handlungshilfenverband) were founded the same year, and were demonstrably antisemitic and increasingly racist. The Association of German Students (Verein Deutscher Studenten, VDSt) excluded Jews from membership. All the important student associations gradually followed this example. The change to an antisemitic association policy, i.e. the denial of membership to Jewish students, took place approximately between 1890 and 1895.[165] In June 1909, the VDSt invited the Berlin Association of Studying Women to a meeting, from which it explicitly excluded the Jewish members of that women's organization. Nevertheless, the invitation was accepted by the board of directors. Members of the Association of Studying Women protested so strongly that the board members resigned from their posts and founded an antisemitic organization, the German Academic Women's League with Christian national principles (Deutsch-akademischer Frauenbund auf christlich-nationaler Grundlage).[166]

In the antisemitic atmosphere towards Jewish teachers and students, described above, the Berlin women public primary school teachers' associations took a bold position. In light of the behavior of the organized teaching profession in general, however, they must be evaluated as exceptional. Biographical excerpts from Jewish and non-Jewish women teachers in Berlin and Hamburg indicate that antisemitism was strongly represented in the teaching profession as early as the 1880s and 1890s.[167] In other cities of the Kaiserreich too, many men and women teachers had openly antisemitic leanings, which became also evident in the following incident: In 1913, Marie Wegner, the first chairperson of the Silesian Women's League (Schlesischer Frauenverband), was looking for a speaker for a women's assembly in Cottbus. She asked Gertrud Bäumer from the BDF for help and expressed the following to her:

“I would ... not have turned to you if I were not convinced that someone, particularly in teaching circles, must be very well known in order to be of any help in Cottbus … In cities like Cottbus, a Jewish lady would of course be out of the question.“[168]

In summary, the secular women teachers' associations were, according to their statutes, open to both Jewish and non-Jewish teachers. Nowhere can one find the explicit exclusion of Jewish women. But expressions and complaints by Jews show that such discrimination did occur now and then. The various women teacher's organizations may have made reference to liberty and secularism, but their residences and organizations often had a pronounced Christian character, so that Jewish teachers did not feel comfortable there. In other words, on the theoretical, legal level the non-religious women teachers' organizations were open to those of all faiths, but in practice they had a Christian orientation which led to the marginalization of Jewish women.

Worthy of note are the protests of non-Jews against the legally sanctioned limitations of the ability of Jewish women teachers to practice their profession. But – as far as the sources show – only the Association of Berlin Public Primary School Women Teachers and the New Public Primary School Women Teachers' Association were active in these protests. Other larger and smaller teachers' organizations took no position, but rather were silent in the face of this discrimination – a stance which we will often encounter also in the nursing sisterhoods, which will be explored in the next chapter.

3. Nurses' Associations

a) A Short Overview of the History and Development of the Nursing Profession

Until the 1870s, nursing was carried out mostly by Catholic nuns and Protestant deaconesses. Becoming a nurse was, for educated girls and women at this time, synonymous with entry into a Catholic religious order or a Protestant deaconess motherhouse. But the shortage of nurses during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 led to the transformation of this profession and to the establishment of new religious and non-religious nurses' organizations. These offered women the possibility to learn and practice the nursing profession outside of church institutions. The first associations of this kind were the sisterhoods of the Red Cross.[169]

The structure of these new nurses' associations was always, however, reminiscent of the forms adopted from the religious orders and deaconess motherhouses. For example, the Red Cross demanded that its nurses be unconditionally obedient, that they give up an individual life-style, and that they live separately from their families.[170] This discouraged many women and girls from becoming active in nursing, with the result that the need for nursing personnel, in spite of the reorganization, could not be fully met.

The development of more new and independent organizational structures in the profession was necessary: At the turn of the 20th century, women who wanted to keep their independence, and to whom a private life was important, joined either state or municipal nursing sisterhoods, or associations for nurses.[171] One of these new groups was the Professional Organization of German Nurses (Berufsorganisation der Krankenpflegerinnen Deutschlands, BOKD). It was founded by Agnes Karll on January 11th, 1903 with an initial membership of thirty persons.

Agnes Karll (1868-1927), a former nurse of the Red Cross in Hanover, had worked as a freelance nurse in private homes from 1891-1901. In 1894, when she accompanied a patient to the United States, she got an insight into the American nursing situation. This inspired her to establish an independent professional organization for professional nurses in Germany to improve their financial, material situation. Despite strong opposition by German physicians and politicians, she pursued the founding of a nation-wide organization for nurses. Her efforts were supported by representatives of the women's movement. At the inaugural meeting of the BOKD, Agnes Karll was assigned its chairperson.[172]

In November 1905, 840 members belonged to the new organization. Its chairperson Agnes Karll advanced the transformation and improvement of the profession with a great deal of passion and talent.[173] It was the goal and task of the new professional organization to give its members social support and to further their interests in the areas of education, working conditions and care in their old age.[174] The organization had at its disposal an office which helped them find both training opportunities and positions in domestic, clinical and hospital nursing. As early as 1903, the BOKD was a corporate member of the BDF, which at its meetings addressed the educational and employment issues of this profession.[175]

In 1904, the BOKD joined the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Agnes Karll was one of its co-founders. In 1909, she was elected president of the ICN, and in 1912, she even organized a congress of the ICN in Cologne. Agnes Karll was convinced that international contacts would help the BODK gain more support and acknowledgement by German officials. Furthermore, she thought that nursing for the sick could serve the goal of world peace. Nevertheless, when World War I broke out, Agnes Karll welcomed the war enthusiastically as many other Germans did. International relationships came to a halt. When the German ministry of war rejected the BODK nurses for military service, her enthusiasm gradually ceased. BODK nurses were sent to Austria instead. In 1925, Agnes Karll described the war as a destroyer of the German nursing practice. In 1926, relations with the ICN were renewed and remained active until the rise of the Nazi regime. Towards the end of the 1920s, the BODK numbered approximately 4,000 members.[176]

b) The German Union of Jewish Nurses' Associations

Although a transformation of the nursing profession took place from the second half of the 19th century onward, and the professional had developed into a recognized, secular occupation for women, the religious principles and ties were still overwhelmingly binding for the new nursing sisterhoods. The state and municipal nurses, who were willing to commit themselves for a specified period of time to nursing in a provincial or city hospital, had to prove membership in the Protestant or Catholic Church in order to be hired. Interconfessional institutions for the ill were rare. Even institutions associated with the Red Cross, such as the Sisterhood of the St. John Order (Johanniter-Schwesternschaft)[177], accepted only unmarried women and widows of the Christian faith. Religious support was important to Catholic nurses as well; they joined the Association for Catholic Lay Nurses (Verein für katholische weltliche Krankenpflegerinnen), which was founded in 1905 in Breslau.[178] For Jewish women, only very few possibilities were available at this time to find a training position as a nurse. They therefore had recourse to their own positions and nurses' associations.

There were associations for Jewish nurses from 1893 onward. The first of its kind was founded in Frankfurt am Main. Further facilities followed, among others those in Berlin (1894), Cologne (1898) and Breslau (1899). At the beginning of the 20th century, there were already eleven Jewish nurses' associations, which in 1905 joined together to form the German Union of Jewish Nurses' Associations (Deutscher Verband Jüdischer Krankenpflegerinnenvereine). Its aim was to advance the education of Jewish nurses, and to raise their social and financial standing, as well as providing them with care in their old age. Statutes and guidelines from 1906 confirm that the organization expected nursing without regard to religion, which corresponded to the principles of Judaism.[179]

With the founding of the Jewish nurses' associations, the main goal was not the fulfilling a need for religious solidarity, but rather the necessity of finding or creating training opportunities for Jewish women. In the Women's Movement Handbook (Handbuch der Frauenbewegung), one can read concerning the history and development of the nursing profession that Jewish girls were not accepted into Christian organizations and that the interconfessional ones often did not grant them admission.[180] At the third convention of delegates of the JFB in Munich in 1911, Mrs. Frankl spoke about the situation of Jewish nurses and expressed the opinion that the creation of Jewish nurses' associations was necessary, because Jewish women would not be accepted in the existing church-based groups.[181] Professor Breuer, who has researched on Orthodox Judaism in the German Empire, comes to the conclusion that Jewish girls only seldom chose the nursing profession because there were not enough doctors and hospitals which were prepared to take into consideration the requirements of religiously observant trainee nurses.[182]

Testimonies show that Jewish women at the time of the Kaiserreich did not find acceptance and support. Faith-based Christian facilities refused to admit them as trainee nurses by reason of their religious affiliation. Secular institutions and associations were often unwilling to accept Jewish girls and women for training. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were as the Handbook of the Women's Movement (1906) shows, only two large interconfessional organizations for nurses: the Red Cross, with about 3,200 members (as of 1906) and the BOKD, with 840 members (as of November 1905).[183] Both these organizations will therefore serve as subjects of the following investigation.

c) The Red Cross: Friendly or Hostile to Jews?

An inspection of the sources presents the attitude of members of the Red Cross toward Jewish men and women in a somewhat ambiguous light. Publications from the general German women's movement and the German Protestant Women's League ( DEF) show that Jewish women could join the Red Cross.[184] The memoirs of Ida Jauffron-Frank and Frieda Düwell also confirm this. Both women put themselves at the service of the Red Cross during World War I, and received training as nurses there.[185] Further texts attest to the fact that Jewish women participated in the women's associations of the Red Cross, and that there was – particularly between 1914 and 1918 – an active cooperation between the Red Cross and the associations for Jewish nurses.[186]

In the Frankfurt Union for the Care of Infants (Verband für Säuglingsfürsorge), Jewish nurses and nurses from the Red Cross worked side by side. In February 1915, the Union of Jewish Nurses (Verein für jüdische Krankenpflegerinnen) and several other Frankfurt Jewish women's associations, collected together with the Red Cross donations for soldiers at the front.[187] At the assembly of delegates of the Union of Jewish Nurses, it was announced that:

“A great part of the nurses, active in war duties, has been awarded the Red Cross medal.”[188]

These words present a very friendly picture. Jewish women in the sisterhoods and associations of the Red Cross won acceptance, membership, influence in decision-making, and recognition for their services. But there are also other sources and research results: the historian Claudia Prestel points out in her study on the education of Jewish nurses that the JFB was able to achieve admission into the headquarters of Red Cross only during World War I.[189] Indeed, the majority of Germans initially saw the war as a unifying factor. The words of the Kaiser "I only know Germans"[190] seemed also to be corroborated in the women's movement. It made women of all religious and political outlooks join their forces to support the fatherland on the home front.[191] However, in the case of the Red Cross, further events from this time period (1914-1918) clearly indicate antisemitic attitudes within this organization: The Association for the Abolition of Antisemitism (Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus) received a letter in October 1914 from the acting military inspector of volunteer nursing with a request for access into material sent to the Association about antisemitic tendencies within the Red Cross. His letter ends with the words: “I would greatly regret … if antisemitic attitude were present in the Red Cross”[192]


[1] Bussemer 1985, 40-42, 48-50.; Baumann 1992, 16; Greven-Aschoff 1981, 45-46; Weiland 1983, 86-87.

[2] Weiland 1983, 55-56; Obschernitzki 1987, 1-3, 19-20.

[3] Geiss 1988, 271-273.; Fassmann 1996, 30-34.

[4] Fassmann 1996, 52; see also Segall 1914, 17-23.

[5] Kaplan 1981, 103-105, 122-125; Kaplan 1984, 181-183, 185-187.

[6] Kaplan 1984, 186-189; Fassmann 1996, 297.

[7] Heidemarie Wawrzyn, Fatherland versus Human Rights. Forms of Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement in Imperial Germany. PhD diss., University of Bremen, published by Diagonal Verlag, Marburg, 1999.

[8] For example: Rürup/Nipperdey 1975, 107, 111; Rürup 1975, 89-90; Rürup 1984, 95-96; Jochmann 1984, 134; Poliakov 1988, 42. See also Heinsohn 2006, 17-18.

[9] Greive 1982, 165-166; Bereswill/Wagner 1998, 8-9; Volkov 1990, 23; Volkov 2006, 100-118. See also Kulka vs. Volkov in Kulka 2005, 70-72.

[10] Kulka 2005, 71, note 12 which includes references to Ulrich Herbert 1996 and Saul Friedländer 1997.

[11] In the historiography of the first women's movement, the year 1848 is generally considered the beginning of the feminist movement which was banned by the Vereinsgesetze (Laws Restricting Associations) in 1850. The foundation of the Allgemeiner Deutscher Frauenbund (General German Women's Association) in 1865 is generally presented as the restart or "revival" of the women's movement. See chapter "The Moderate Liberal Women's Movement."

[12] The adjective "Christian" is not understood exclusively as "religiously Christian," but rather in the sense of those values, norms and outlooks which were originally inherited from Christianity. These values and norms became part of German culture, even if their bearers do not consider themselves associated with the institution of the Church.

[13] E.g. Gertrud Bäumer and Minna Cauer.

[14] E. g. Anita Augspurg, Lida Gustava Heymann, Gertrud Bäumer, Helene Stöcker, Lily Braun.

[15] Mosse 2006, 64-74; Poliakov 1987, 106-116.

[16] Hillerbrand 2002, 455-472; Schoeps 2006, 18-32; Johann 2008, 9; Mosse 2006, 64-70; Poliakov 1987, 106-116.

[17] Wistrich 1992: The Longest Hatred; Wistrich 1994: Antisemitism in the New Europe.

[18] Wistrich 1992, XVIII-XIX, XX ff, 12

[19] Wistrich 1994, 5.

[20] Evans 1976: The Feminist Movement in Germany 1894-1933.

[21] Evans' thesis has been discussed controversially for years. Nevertheless, his early indication of nationalist theories and practice within the feminist movement set the course for further researches in the 1980s and 1990s. Evans 1976, 273-274; Streubel 2006, 57-58; Reagin 1995, 253-254; Gehmacher 1994, 138.

[22] Mitscherlich 1983; Stoehr 1983; Schmidt-Waldherr 1984.

[23] For more details on the debate over the victim or perpetrator role of women in the Third Reich, see Gehmacher 1994, 138-140; Reagin 1995, 253-254 and Evans 1987, 171-174.

[24] Kaplan 1984: Sisterhood under Siege: Feminism and Anti-Semitism in Germany, 1904-1938; Dürkop 1984: Erscheinungsformen des Antisemitismus im Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine. See also Kaplan 1981: Die jüdische Frauenbewegung in Deutschland. Organisation und Ziele des Jüdischen Frauenbundes 1904-1938.

[25] Mechthild Bereswill, Leonie Wagner, Helga Krohn, Susanne Omran, Dagmar Herze and Johanna Gehmacher.

[26] Bereswill/Wagner 1998: Bürgerliche Frauenbewegung und Antisemitismus..

[27] Wawrzyn 1999: Vaterland statt Menschenrecht. Formen der Judenfeindschaft in den Frauenbewegungen des Kaiserreiches

[28] Examples: An anthology, published in 2000 by Ute Planert, about women's movements and nationalism in the modern age; Andrea Süchting-Hänger's study on women's organizations in the conservative Protestant milieu (2002); Raffael Scheck's work about women in German people's political parties (2004); and Christiane Streubel's research about the National Women's Ring (Ring Nationaler Frauen) (2006). Lora Wildenthal in 2001 and Anette Dietrich in 2007 devoted themselves to the subject of women and 'race' in German colonialism.

[29] Ute Planert 2000; Süchting-Hänger 2002; Scheck 2004; Omran 2000; Braukmann 2007.

[30] Dürkop 1984, 140; Fassmann 1996, 16.

[31] Omran 2000, 15.

[32] Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums ( General Newspaper of Jewry ), Israelitisches Familienblatt ( Israelite Family Newsletter ), and Blätter des Jüdischen Frauenbundes ( Newsletter of the Jewish Women's League, 1924-1936).

[33] The work at hand does not present the events of anti-Jewish behavior in a chronological order, since each chapter focuses on certain women's organizations including their goals, works and concepts. Some antisemitic incidents are mentioned a few times in different chapters of this work. This is due to the fact that every analysis of a certain women's group raises again the question of anti-Jewish attitudes of its members, and that often several women's groups participated in the same antisemitic incident. However, in order to simplify for the readers the overview of events, I presented the chronological compilation.

[34] Silvia Lange 1998.

[35] Out of linguistic convention, in the text itself I mainly use the singular form "women's movement," but in the title and the classification scheme, I think that the diversity and variety should be highlighted through the use of the plural "women's movements."

[36] German feminists from the (upper) middle class called their emancipation movement: the bourgeois German women's movement. The term "bourgeois" (bürgerlich) has a double meaning in German. According to Marxist theory, it is a social class term and a synonym for capitalist and exploiter. Historically, "bourgeois" refers to the middle classes in modern societies, based on the principles of enlightenment (Gerhard 2004, 114-115, Schaser 2006, 10).

[37] German Protestant Women's League 1899, Catholic Women's League 1903, and Jewish Women's League 1904.

[38] Schaser 2006, 9-10. – The Revolution of 1848 was a series of loosely coordinated protests and revolts, which emphasized discontent with the largely autocratic political structure of the German Confederation and demonstrated the desire for political and social freedom, democracy, and national unity.

[39] Otto-Peters 1890, p1; Gerhard et al. 1980, 7, 12-13, 14-15, 20; Gerhard 1991, 63-66; Weiland 1983, 190-191; Evans 1977, 103-104.

[40] These were educational associations which adopted the pedagogical concept of Friedrich Fröbel, the founder of the idea of kindergarten. In 1851, Fröbel's kindergartens were banned by the Prussian Ministry of Culture because of their "destructive" tendencies with regard to religion and politics (Gerhard 1991, 69).

[41] Gerhard 1991, 65-69; Gerhard 2004, 106-108; Fredriksen 1981, 485-488; Frevert 1986, 72 -75; Weiland 1983, 65-68; 228-230.

[42] Cf. Archiv des ungarischen Ministeriums und Landesvertheidigungsausschusses, Altenburg 1851, Vol. 1, 219-221.

[43] Bäumer/Lange 1901, Handbuch I, 49; Otto-Peters 1890, 5; Twellmann 1972, 34-35. 38-39; Fassmann 1996, 163; Evans 1976, 24; Obschernitzki 1987, 18; Weiland 1983, 14-19; Schaser 2006, 41; StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896].

[44] StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896]; Otto 1876, 155, 244.

[45] Greven-Aschoff 1981, 84; StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896]; Evans works on the assumption of approximately 14,000 members in 1914 (Evans 1976, 30).

[46] Bäumer/Lange 1901, Handbuch I, 53.

[47] Otto-Peters 1890, 4; Bäumer/Lange 1901, Handbuch I, 52.

[48] StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896].

[49] StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896}, 1-8; Otto-Peters 1890, 10,35; Bäumer/Lange 1901, Handbuch I, 54-56. Evans 1976, 25-26; Fassmann 1996, 163; Frandsen 1974, 26; cf. Twellmann 1972, 41.

[50] Weiland 1983, 17-18.

[51] Evans 1976, 24

[52] Bussemer 1985, 124-128; 170-171, 185-189, 241-245; Bussemer 1988, 199-202; cf. Gerhard 1991, 123-125 and Hervé 1983, 28.

[53] Weiland 1983, 16.

[54] Schaser 2006, 119.

[55] Die Frau, November 1904, 98; StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896], 2.

[56] Otto-Peters 1890, 15, 98-99; Siebe and Prüfer 1922, 75-80; Neue Bahnen, Nov. 15, 1904, 184; Fassmann 1996, 177¸ StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des ADF" [1896]; Leipziger Tagesblatt, Jan. 8, 1900; Hallesche Allgemeine Zeitung, Oct. 1, 1905.

[57] The Lette-Verein was founded in 1866 in Berlin by Wilhelm Adolf Lette. The goal of the association was to advance the employment capacities and activity of the unmarried daughters of the middle class. For more information about this institution, see Obschernitzki 1987, 1, 20-31, 250-251.

[58] Otto-Peters 1890, 13; Neue Bahnen, Aug. 1, 1899, 179; Neue Bahnen, April 1, 1902, 83; Obschernitzki 1987, 221; Fassmann 1996, 96.

[59] Fassmann 1996, 236-238; StdA Frankfurt a. M:, S3/T 6.720, "Programm der 18. Generalversammlung des ADF in Frankfurt a. M., 30.9.-3.10. 1895".

[60] Die Frau, Nov. 1899, 94.

[61] Neue Bahnen, Nov. 15, 1900, 258; Jan. 1, 1910, 6-7; Fassmann 1996, 191-194; Kaplan 1991, 206-207.

[62] Dick and Sassenberg 1993, 21; Fassmann 1996, 303; Neue Bahnen, March 15, 1911, 46.

[63] Weiland 1983, 248.

[64] ALBI/NY, ME 889, Braun-Vogelstein [1965], 98-99; Kaplan 1991, 204-206.

[65] ALBI/NY, ME 441, Meyring [1933], 8-9.

[66] ALBI/NY, ME 889, Braun-Vogelstein [1965], 26-27, 98; Neue Bahnen, April 1, 1902, 83.

[67] Kaplan 1988, 169-170; Fassmann 1996, 221-222.

[68] Neue Bahnen, Nov. 15, 1900, 257-258; April 1, 1902, 82-83; Nov. 15, 1904, 184-185; Neue Bahnen (Berlin), Jan. 1, 1910, 6-7.

[69] Nipperdey 1988, 155.

[70] Nipperdey 1988, 137-138.

[71] The International Council of Women was founded in Washington in 1888. In 1904 it comprised representatives from more than 19 countries. The goal of this organization was to gather together women of all nations, races, religions and classes under a politically and religiously neutral umbrella organization. At the International Women's Congress the exchange of thoughts and experiences among women was to be encouraged, and questions important to the “well-being of families and peoples” were to be addressed. (Groeben 1904, 74; Gerhard 1991, 210); Lexikon der Frau [1953], vol. 1, 1123-1124.

[72] AZJ, June 3, 1904, 1-2, June 24, 1904, 302; Jüdische Rundschau, June 24, 1904; 263; Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15, 1904, 138.

[73] AZJ, June 24, 1904, 302; Groeben 1904, 77; Feitelberg 1904, 4-5; See also Dürkop 1984, 141; Bereswill and Wagner 1997, 16; Schröder 2001, 162-163.

[74] Neue Bahnen,, July 1, 1904, 108.

[75] According to the historical context, the term "interconfessional" refers to Christian (Protestant, Catholic) and Jewish religions and can therefore be understood as secular and interreligious, i.e. open to members of different religious creeds.

[76] CBDF, July 15, 1904.

[77] CBDF, July 1904.

[78] Neue Bahnen, July 15, 1904, 122.

[79] Neue Bahnen, July 15, 1904, 122.

[80] Neue Bahnen, July 15, 1904, 122, footnote; Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15. 1904, 138.

[81] Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15. 1904, 137; see also StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896], 5.

[82] Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15, 1904, 137-138.

[83] Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15. 1904, 138.

[84] Cf. Bereswill and Wagner 1997, 19-20.

[85] Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15, 1904, 138.

[86] Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15, 1904, 137.

[87] Frandsen 1974, 53; Greven-Aschoff 1981, 85-86; Weiland 1983, 150.

[88] HLA-BDF, Abt. 3, MF 12-402, Henriette May (JFB) to Helene Lange, Oct. 12, 1915.

[89] Bereswill and Wagner 1997, 10-11; Bereswill and Wagner 1998, 47-49.

[90] HLA-BDF, Abt. 3, MF 12-402, Helene Lange to Eva von Roy, Feb. 11, 1916.

[91] HLA-BDF, Abt. 3, MF12-402, Helene Lange to Alice Bensheimer, Feb. 11, 1916.

[92] For more details on Henriette Goldschmidt's founding activities, see Gosche 1904, 100-101 and Fassmann 1996, 170-175.

[93] Staatsbürger-Zeitung, Nov. 5, 1913.

[94] Staatsbürger-Zeitung, Nov. 5, 1913.

[95] HLA-BDF, Abt. 3, MF 12-401: Pappenheim and May (JFB) to Gertrud Bäumer (BDF), Nov. 25, 1913.

[96] HLA-BDF, Abt. 3, MF 12-401: Gertrud Bäumer to the JFB board, Dec. 4, 1913.

[97] Frankfurter Israelitisches Familienblatt, Dec. 12, 1913, 4.

[98] Fassmann 1996, 222, 296-297.

[99] Neue Bahnen, May 1, 901, 112.

[100] Die Gleichheit, Nov. 16, 1892, 185-186.

[101] Neue Bahnen, May 1, 1901, 111.

[102] Neue Bahnen, May 1, 1901, 110.

[103] StA Leipzig, PP-V 2658, "Gründung und Entwicklung des Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenvereins" [1896], 1; PP-V 2659, "Programm des ADL" [1895-1901], 5; Bäumer/Lange 1901, Handbuch I, 38; Lion 1926, 16.

[104] Neue Bahnen, Dec. 15, 1903, 298.

[105] See footnote 75.

[106] Neue Bahnen, Dec. 15, 1903, 298.

[107] Neue Bahnen, July 1, 1904, 108; July 15, 1904, footnote on 122.

[108] Neue Bahnen, Aug. 15, 1904, 138.

[109] Frauen-Zeitung, June 30, 1849, 99; July 7, 1849, 106; July 21, 1849, 114.

[110] Frauen-Zeitung), June 30, 1849, 100.

[111] Frauen-Zeitung, July 7, 1849, 107.

[112] Frauen-Zeitung, July 21, 1849, 114-115.

[113] Frauen-Zeitung, June 30,1849, 99-100.

[114] Fassmann 1996, 237, 291.

[115] Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise) is a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, published in 1779. Set in Jerusalem during the Third Crusade, it describes how the wise Jewish merchant Nathan, the enlightened Sultan Saladin and the Templar Crusader bridge their gaps between Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Its major themes are friendship, tolerance and a need for communication (

[116] Quoted in Fassmann 1996, 249.

[117] Geiss 1988, 272-274.

[118] Neue Bahnen, July 15, 1904, 122.

[119] Bäumer/Lange 1902, Handbuch IV, 318-320; Kall 1983, 173-175. For more details on the history and development of Volksschulen (public primary schools), see Kraus 2008, 41-47.

[120] Evans 1978, 197; Kall 1983, 174-175, 177; Weiland 1983, 168-169; Enzelberger 2001, 123.

[121] Bäumer/Lange 1902, Handbuch IV, 319.

[122] Kall 1983, 175-176.

[123] Calm 1870, 3-4, 31; Lange 1906, 6-7; Braun 1901, 329.

[124] Kaiser 1985, 267; Kall 1983, 176-177, 188.

[125] Schaser 2006, 29-32; Enzelberger 2001, 82-83; Weiland 1983; 168, 244.

[126] Centralblatt des Bundes Deutscher Frauenvereine (CBDF), July 1, 1899, 51.

[127] ADStV, Mb 68, "Bericht über die erste Hauptversammlung des Bayerischen Lehrerinnenvereins in München, 1.-4. Aug. 1900", 25-29, 84-86.

[128] Mitteilungen des DEF, July 1903, 78.

[129] ADStV, Mb 53/8, "Verhandlungen der 8. Generalversammlung des ADLV in Dresden, 31. Mai bis 2.Juni 1903".

[130] Der Gemeindebote, June 19, 1914, 2; June 25, 1915, 2.

[131] Israelitisches Familienblatt Hamburg, April 28, 1910, 13.

[132] Frankfurter Israelitisches Familienlatt, April 1, 1910, 2; Israelitisches Familienblatt Hamburg, April 28, 1910, 13; Guttmann, Beate 1928, 14; Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People (CAHJP), TD/112, TD/980; StdA Frankfurt a. M, KS 1074, "Verzeichnis der Frankfurter Jüdischen Vereine", March 1911, 21.

[133] CAHJP, TD/112, "Dreißig Jahre Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim 1899-1929", 4-6.

[134] Ibid., 7.

[135] Der Gemeindebote, June 30, 1899, 1; Nov. 1, 1899, 2.

[136] CAHJP, TD/112, "Dreißig Jahre Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim 1899-1929", 2, 7.

[137] Ibid., 7.

[138] Der Gemeindebote, June 22, 1917, 3; CAHJP, TD/112, "Dreißig Jahre Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim 1899-1929", 7.

[139] Quotation in: "Dreißig Jahre Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim 1899-1929", 4-6 (CAHJP, TD/112).

[140] A supplement of the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums (General Newspaper of Jewry).

[141] Der Gemeindebote, March 3, 1899, 1; June 30, 1899, 1; Nov. 10, 1899, 2.

[142] Ibid.

[143] Quotation in: "Dreißig Jahre Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim 1899-1929", 7 (CAHJP, TD/112).

[144] Katz 1982, 166-168; Rürup 1985, 85-87, 112-115; Hubatsch 1977, 174-175; Debus 1974, 232-234. See alsoüdische_Emanzipation.

In 1869, Otto von Bismarck issued a law in the North German Federation which made Judaism equal with all other faiths. It eventually became national law upon German unification in 1871.

[145] Wolff 1928, VIII; Mitteilungen des DEF, Feb. 1903, 35.

[146] Die Frau, Jan. 1904, 228-230; June 1905, 554; Neue Bahnen, July 1, 1899, 146; Wolff 1928, 14.

[147] StdA Frankfurt a. M, S3/P 345.

[148] Saxon StA Leipzig, AG Leipzig, GnR 280.

[149] StA Hamburg, Senat Cl. VII Lit. Qd Nr. 39.

[150] HLA, L 000 327, Lehrerinnenhorst. Stellen-Anzeiger für Lehrerinnen und Erzieherinnen, June 22, 1905, 1-2.

[151] Cf. HLA, L 000 306, L 000 094 , L 000 095, articles of different women teachers' associations.

[152] Saxon StA Leipzig, AG Leipzig, GnR 280, § 4, Satzung des Leipziger Lehrerinnenvereins.

[153] StdA Frankfurt a. M., S3/P 345: § 6, Satzung des Frankfurter Lehrerinnenheims e. V., 1903.

[154] Der Gemeindebote, April 26, 1901, 3.

[155] CAHJP, TD/112, "Dreißig Jahre Verein Israelitisches Lehrerinnenheim 1899-1929".

[156] Kall 1983, 184, 188.

[157] See financial and annual reports of various women teachers' and women's charity associations, 1900-1915, in StdA Frankfurt a. M., V 426, V532; CAHJP, TD/112.

[158] Segall 1912, 57; Lamberti 1978, 124-128.

[159] Segall 1912, 57.

[160] Der Gemeindebote, Se 29, 1899, 1; HLA, L 000 094: "Jahresbericht des Neuen Volksschullehrerinnen-Vereins 4/1898-4/1899", 2.

[161] Der Gemeindebote, Sep. 29, 1899, 1; Israelitisches Familienblatt. Die Laubhütte, March 16, 1899, 162; Israelitisches Familienblatt, Sep. 25, 1902, 13; Oct. 13, 1904, 3; April 28, 1910, 13; Frankfurter Israelitisches Familienblatt, April 1, 1910, 2; Jüdische Rundschau, March 28, 1913, 129.

[162] Der Gemeindebote, Nov. 8, 1895, 2.

[163] HLA, L 000 094: "Jahresbericht des Neuen Volksschullehrerinnen-Vereins 4/1898-4/1899," 2.

[164] Ibid., 4.

[165] Geiss 1988, 273-274; Kampe 1988, 13, 209-210; Rürup 1984, 95-96.

[166] Im deutschen Reich, July 1909, 447-448.

[167] Lüders 1925, 50, Schwab 1956, 8; ALBI/Jer., LBI/8, "Erinnerungen einer deutschen Jüdin" (Doris Davidsohn), 9; ALBI/Jer, LBI 14: "Lebenserinnerungen von Marianne Joseph", 3.

[168] HLA-BDF, MF 12-414, Marie Wegner (Breslau) to Gertrud Bäumer (BDF), Dec. 20, 1913; Bereswill and Wagner 1997, 22.

[169] Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 116, 122; Mitteilungen des DEF, Feb. 1903, 35, Sep. 1904, 91-92; Neue Bahnen, April 1, 1902, front page.

[170] Mitteilungen des DEF, Sep. 1904, 92.; Süchting-Hänger 2002, 43-43.

Red Cross: The International Red Cross was founded in 1864, with 16 nations participating. Each member nation established national associations to nurse sick and injured soldiers. The Central Committee of German Associations of the Red Cross was formed in April 1869 (Süchting-Hänger 2002, 28).

[171] Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 116, 126-128; Mitteilungen des DEF, Se 1904, 94; Stewart and Austin 1962, 305.

[172]; Förster 2007, 18-20.

[173] Karll 1903, 57-60; Stewart and Austin 1962, 305; Nutting and Dock 1974, 10; Förster 2007, 9, 20.

[174] Neue Bahnen, March 1, 1903, 57-60.

[175] Leipziger Tageblatt, Oct. 4, 1902; CBDF, Nov. 1, 1912; Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine 1912, 147-166; HLA-BDF, Abt. 5, V, MF 18-742: Gertrud Bäumer to BDF board, Aug. 3, 1915; Stewart and Austin 1962, 306.

[176]; Förster 2007, 12-14.

[177] The Chivalric Order of St. John founded the Johanniter-Schwesternschaft in 1885-1886 (Johanniterorden, Sep. 2006, 20). Cf. Staehle 1998, 224-290.

[178] Bäumer/Lange 1902, Handbuch IV, 308-309; Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 127; Dammer 1988, 55-56; Guttmann 1989, 85-8; Der Katholische Frauenbund, Feb. 16, 1907, 73.

[179] Breuer 1986, 251; Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 128; Prestel 1992, 44-45, 58; Israelitisches Familienblatt, April 24, 1913, 14; Beilage zum Frankfurter Israelitischen Familienblatt, Jan. 10, 1913, 9; Der Gemeindebote, Oct. 6, 1905, 1, Nov. 10, 1905, 1; CAHJP, TD/157, "Delegiertenversammlung der Vereinigungen zur Ausbildung jüdischer Krankenpflegerinnen in Deutschland 1904"; CAHJP, TD/77, "Jahresbericht des Vereins für jüdische Krankenpflege in Westfalen e. V., 1909/1910."

[180] Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 128.

[181] Frankfurter Israelitisches Familienblatt, Jan. 20, 1911, 3.

[182] Breuer 1986, 251.

[183] Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 117, 121-123.

[184] Mitteilungen des DEF, Feb. 1903, 35; Bäumer/Lange 1906, Handbuch V, 122.

[185] ALBI/Jer, LBI/50, "Lebenserinnerungen von Ida Jauffron-Frank," 17; ALBI/NY, ME 859, II, "Erinnerungen von Frieda Düwell", 12.

[186] Der Gemeindebote, May 18, 1917, 3.

[187] StdA Frankfurt a. M., StVV 1-751, "Erster Jahresbericht des Frankfurter Verbandes für Säuglingsfürsorge, 1911"; StdA Frankfurt a. M., S2/153, "Spendenaufruf der Frauenvereinigung der Frankfurt-Loge und der Weiblichen Fürsorge, Februar 1915".

[188] Der Gemeindebote, Dec. 10, 1915, 1; ALBI/NY, AR 7167, Julius and Margarete Goldstein Collection.

[189] Prestel 1992, 44, footnote 15; see also Wildenthal 1994, 28.

[190] Speech from the throne by Kaiser Wilhelm II on Aug. 4, 1914.

[191] Bäumer 1914, 26-27; Lüders, Marie-Elisabetz 1936, 12; Süchting-Hänger 2002, 93-96; Ev. Frauenzeitung, Jan. 1, 1915, 52.

[192] Mitteilungen aus dem Verein zur Abwehr des Antisemitismus, Oct. 24, 1914, 131.

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Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement 1865-1933
erg International School - Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel  (Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism)
Religious Studies
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This English edition is a translated, updated and extended version of the author's dissertation "Vaterland statt Menschenrecht". "Formen der Judenfeindschaft in den Frauenbewegungen des Deutschen Kaiserreiches", submitted to the University of Bremen in 1998 and first published in German in 1999.
feminism, antisemitism, Jewish Women's League, German women's movement, women's suffrage, Bertha Pappenheim, Gertrud Bäumer, Helene Lange, Henriette Goldschmidt, Imperial Germany, Weimar Republic, National Socialism, Clara Zetkin
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Dr. Heidemarie Wawrzyn (Author), 2011, Antisemitism in the German Women's Movement 1865-1933, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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