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Writing Lives

A Female German Jewish Perspective on the Early Twentieth Century


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 6 Legacies of War


Chapter 6

Legacies of War

After such long engagement with war work and anti-war ideas, it is no wonder that the First World War continued to cast a long shadow over the rest of Krämer’s life, work, and literary output. Krämer had also witnessed the violence of the end of the war first hand; Munich had been a centre of anti-war activism during the war and in April and May 1919 the revolution reached its bloody conclusion in the heart of the city when government troops fought revolutionaries on the streets. Even when the Weimar Republic reached a level of economic security towards the latter part of the 1920s, fears of a return to widespread street violence and the potential for civil war remained. Krämer’s literary career reached new heights when she published her novella Die Rauferei [The Brawl] in 1927. Her branch of the League of Jewish Women had also flourished under her leadership, and they opened a girls’ school in 1926. Yet despite this outward appearance of stability, Krämer’s novella is marked by themes of violence and turmoil. She sets out pacifist ideas and yet the events in the novella conspire to undermine the protagonist and prevent him from following a pacifist ideology. Does this mimic a turmoil within herself about her identity and role in this new, post-war world? When creating the world of the novella, she has chosen to incorporate the confusion and complexity of her reality, and...

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