The Wiener Library

For the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide

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Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York

'Beyond our wildest ambitions' - German women's organisations 1914-1918

Dr Ingrid Sharp

Wed 10 Sep 2014

Time: 6.30pm-8pm

As the first of a series of three lectures marking the centenary of the First World War, this public talk by Dr Ingrid Sharp will examine the role played by middle class German women in supporting the war effort. The exploration of this topic aims to provide a counterpart to the Library's current temporary exhibition 'The Kaiser's Jewish Soldiers' which tells the story from the perspective of Jewish men who fought in the First World War on the German side.

Before 1914, the bourgeois German women's movement had been viewed with suspicion by left and right alike, and largely discounted by the government. All this changed with the outbreak of war in August 1914, when the Federation of German Women (BDF) was ready with a plan to coordinate the patriotic war work of organised German women. The BDF and its member organisations, including the League of Jewish Women under the leadership of Bertha Pappenheim, hoped to demonstrate the qualities of patriotism and civic responsibility that would lead to greater inclusion in the life of the state once war was over. The national women's service brought the women's movement to the heart of the state, overcame divisions of class and religion in ways that. as Alice Salomon put it 'if these hadn't been times of war would have been beyond our wildest ambitions'. In this paper Dr Sharp explores the response of the organised German women's movement to the outbreak of war and considers the challenges to their position of patriotic support for the war from within their own ranks.

Admission is free but booking is essential as space is limited.

To see the other lectures in our First World War series please visit the Library's What's On page.

Location: The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London - click for map

How to book: