Jewish Daily Life in Germany, 1618-1945

By Marion A. Kaplan | Go to book overview

20
Family Life

" 'No more corset, no long dresses, short hair, much more freedom'—with these words an emigrant from Berlin summed up what the change from the Imperial era to the Weimar Republic meant for women."1 Owing to the war, the sudden end of the authoritarian state, and the subsequent inflation that shattered the economic foundation of especially the Jewish lower middle class and middle class, the options for Jewish girls expanded in professional as well as private spheres. This was especially the case in the cities. And so traditional and modern lifestyles existed side by side. However, Nazi persecution resulted in a return to the family and to Jewish life, further influencing women's status.


Marriage, Childbearing, and Children

Many Jewish couples had gotten married during the Imperial period, but widespread matchmaking by friends and relatives did not always have favorable outcomes. Outward appearances were nevertheless maintained. "I discovered very late how unhappy my mother was when she was forced to marry my father," wrote a woman born in 1913.2 The ideal of a love match did not correspond to such marriage arrangements, so seemingly chance encounters of future spouses were arranged. This practice from the German Empire continued into the Weimar period.3 It corresponded to the marriage strategies of the middle class in general, though it is virtually impossible to determine how widespread this form of marriage brokering was. In 1918 a woman broke off her engagement two days before the wedding, which had only been agreed on under pressure in order to legitimize the couple's friendship. The woman was later more judiciously married off:

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