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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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Epilogue: The Legacy of a Swabian Internationalist


When the Stuttgart branch of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom met on 30 September 1946, their guest speaker was Luise Rinser. Her ordeal in prison had brought about a revival of her religious faith together with a political reorientation. Putting her involvement with National Socialism behind her, Luise Rinser had become a fervent supporter of western democracy.1 Her lecture, ‘An den Frieden glauben’ (To Believe in Peace), included a critique of the concepts ‘love of homeland’ (‘Heimatliebe’) and ‘love of the Fatherland’ (‘Vaterlandsliebe’) and a commitment to ‘world citizenship’ (‘Weltbürgertum’). During the Third Reich, she argued, nationalistic slogans had been exploited to prepare people for war, confusing patriotism with ‘arrogance’ (‘Überheblichkeit’).2

This must have been music to the ears of Anna Haag, who probably chaired the meeting. But for her there was nothing new about the arguments of ‘An den Frieden glauben’, for her love of homeland had never precluded a peaceful commitment to the wider world. Her membership of the Women’s International League dated back to the 1920s, and during the Nazi period her faith in democracy had never wavered. Indeed, her legacy can best be defined as that of a Swabian Internationalist – ‘eine schwäbische Weltbürgerin’.3

Earlier chapters of this book have shown how Anna’s creativity was shaped by her schooling in rural Swabia and her marriage to a progressively minded Württemberg teacher. She never lost touch with her regional ← 233 | 234 → heritage (even writing...

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