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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 5 The First World War

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Chapter 5

The First World War

The First World War marked a turning point in German self-understanding; there was not a single region or social group which was unaffected by the war. Due to the nature of wartime censorship and the complexities of reliably establishing public opinion, it is difficult to ascertain how Germans as a whole felt about the war.1 For German Jews, in particular German Jewish women, who faced greater difficulties in expressing opinions publicly, understanding their responses is even more complicated. Through a detailed study of an individual, responses to the war, which are hidden from the historical narrative, can be brought to light. Throughout the war, Krämer continued to be involved in public campaigns and social work and was well-connected with prominent Munich figures. As someone in a leadership position, how she responded to the war helped to shape the responses of her community. Analysing her experiences and the experiences of women like her, contribute to our understanding of the German Home Front. As the war ended with a revolution, which overthrew the Kaiser and established a new democratic system, understanding the effects of the war at home sheds light on the events which led up to this key historical moment. The war had different effects in different regions in Germany and Krämer’s writing provides a Munich perspective. It gave her new roles to perform and forced her to reconsider her position in German society as a German Jewish woman....

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