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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

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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 3: Republican Values, Female Agency and the International Peace Campaign

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CHAPTER 3

Republican Values, Female Agency and the International Peace Campaign

It was the spring of 1919 by the time the Haags had completed the arduous journey home from Bucharest. As a young couple with an educational mission they now faced new challenges, for there was no consensus about the lessons to be learnt from the war. In Württemberg, fortunately, the outbreak of peace proved less chaotic than in other regions, although there were food shortages accompanied by civil strife. Revolution in Berlin, leading to the proclamation of the Republic, forced Kaiser Wilhelm II to flee to his estate in the Netherlands on 9 November 1918, leaving the other German crowned heads with no option but to abdicate. In Stuttgart, too, the red flag was raised over the royal palace, but it was not until 30 November that King Wilhelm II of Württemberg renounced his throne. Having been a respected constitutional monarch he received a state pension, living out his days in rural seclusion until his death in October 1921.

The new Württemberg constitution approved in April 1919 created relative stability at a time when neighbouring Bavaria was gripped by revolution and counter-revolution. In Stuttgart, under the leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which the Haags supported, the situation remained calm. Reform of the suffrage meant that women were now entitled to vote, and Württemberg benefitted from having a democratically elected regional government, the Landtag. A...

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