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Writing Lives

A Female German Jewish Perspective on the Early Twentieth Century

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Corinne Painter

This book introduces the works of a German Jewish female author and provides a detailed analysis of the early twentieth century as she witnessed it. Although a prolific writer and leader in the women’s movement, Clementine Krämer (1873–1942) is relatively unknown today. Krämer’s life and works offer a fascinating insight into a challenging period for this community, as she experienced at first hand moments of enormous significance for Germany’s history: the First World War, the German Revolution of 1918, the polarisation of German political life and
the growth of the far right, and the rise to power of the National Socialists in the 1930s. Rather than focusing on one period, this book examines the full range of Krämer’s writings to uncover continuities and changes over her lifetime.

The book explores the following questions: how did Krämer understand herself and her role in light of her German Jewish identity? How did she challenge societal expectations for women and what limits did she perceive? How did she respond to the violence facing German Jews during this time? This important contribution to the scholarship reveals a fresh perspective on this tumultuous time in German history.

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Chapter 4 Motherhood and Education

Extract

Chapter 4

Motherhood and Education

As German society experienced dramatic changes during the first half of the twentieth century, so the attitudes towards women and Jewish women changed and these changes are visible in Krämer’s work. However, not all the female characters Krämer wrote about experienced threats. This chapter explores the experiences of women as wives, mothers and educators, and the importance that Krämer placed on these roles. Women in these roles are still moving in the public sphere but Krämer has identified these as roles for women which she can portray as ‘appropriate’ and so these women do not experience the kinds of threats examined in the previous chapter. Krämer returns to consider the role of women in education repeatedly throughout her writings, in both fiction and reportage. As with so much of her work, many of her writings were unpublished and undated so it is hard to gain an accurate idea of whether her responses to this theme changed over time. However, we can examine how her stories portray women and, when combined with her articles for the women’s movement, the different roles she ascribed to women and how she saw her own role in society.

The works which form the centre of the analysis in this chapter offer an alternative perspective on women’s experiences and reflect how women can fit into society and make vital contributions. This chapter will explore two of her short stories: Getauft...

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