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Anna Haag and her Secret Diary of the Second World War

A Democratic German Feminist’s Response to the Catastrophe of National Socialism


Edward Timms

How was it possible for a well-educated nation to support a regime that made it a crime to think for yourself? This was the key question for the Stuttgart-based author Anna Haag (1888–1982), the democratic feminist whose anti-Nazi diaries are analysed in this book. Like Victor Klemperer, she deconstructed German political propaganda day by day, giving her critique a gendered focus by challenging the ethos of masculinity that sustained the Nazi regime. This pioneering study interprets her diaries, secretly written in twenty notebooks now preserved at the Stuttgart City Archive, as a fascinating source for the study of everyday life in the Third Reich. The opening sections sketch the paradigms that shaped Haag’s creativity, analysing the impact of the First World War and the feminist and pacifist commitments that influenced her literary and journalistic writings. Extensive quotations from the diaries are provided, with English translations, to illustrate her responses to the cataclysms that followed the rise of Hitler, from the military conquests and Jewish deportations to the devastation of strategic bombing. The book concludes with a chapter that traces the links between Haag’s critique of military tyranny and her contribution to post-war reconstruction.
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Chapter 1: Paradigms of Creativity and Marriage with an Educational Mission


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Paradigms of Creativity and Marriage with an Educational Mission

To define the core values underlying Anna Haag’s achievements, we must return to the schoolhouse in the village of Althütte in Swabia where she was born on 10 July 1888. Looking back, she was to attribute her interest in public affairs to her upbringing as a schoolmaster’s daughter, and this social matrix is indeed significant. Teachers in rural areas made a decisive contribution to the high literacy levels of late nineteenth-century Germany, educationally the most advanced nation in Europe. As head of the village school, Anna’s father Jakob Schaich was able to provide a stable home for his wife Karoline (née Mergenthaler), who also came from a schoolteaching family. This same educational background helped to inspire her brother Ottmar Mergenthaler, who emigrated as a young man to the United States. He made his name as a pioneer in printing technology by inventing the Linotype Machine, used to print the world’s newspapers right up to the digital revolution.1

Jakob and Karoline Schaich had six children, three boys and three girls. A group photograph taken at a time when Anna was in primary school shows them as a well-turned-out family (see Figure 2). From left to right we see Emil (born 1885), Adolf (born 1889), Jakob Schaich, Eugen (Emil’s twin brother) with Gertrud (born 1893) in the foreground, Karoline with Helene (born 1894) on her lap, and finally Anna. Emotionally...

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