The Feminism and Socialism of Lily Braun

The Feminism and Socialism of Lily Braun

The Feminism and Socialism of Lily Braun

The Feminism and Socialism of Lily Braun


"... a warm, interesting, intellectual biography... " -- German Studies Review

"... thoughtful analysis... fine book... " -- Slavic Review

The remarkable life of the maverick German socialist feminist Lily Braun (1865--1916) and the relevance of her ideas to the women's movement of our own day emerge with strength and sensitivity.


Lily Braun (1865-1916) was one of those pioneers of feminism who because of the radical nature of her ideas was notorious in her lifetime, but, because no existing social movement cared to claim her as its own, was thereafter quickly forgotten. That is to be regretted, because she anticipated by several generations many of the ideas which constitute today's feminist ideology. At the same time, students of the contemporary American women's movement might also be interested to find out how the concerns and demands of a Marxist feminist in the Germany of William II differ from those raised by people who wage a similar struggle in America today.

I discovered Braun some years ago while doing research for an essay on the relationship between Marxism and feminism, and I have been studying her life and contributions ever since.

Her life and her ideas can be treated separately only at the risk of tearing asunder an organic whole, or of dissecting in the way a cadaver is cut up in the laboratory. To separate life from ideology is an altogether artificial separation, particularly in the case of Lily Braun, who very self-consciously sought to live out her philosophic and political convictions, which, in turn, she very self-consciously derived from her own personal experiences. Feminist theory, after all, derives much of its force from the tension between women's private and public roles. All the more reason, then, to write about Braun in such a fashion as to treat her private and her public persons as a whole.

The groundwork for my research was laid in I979/80 during a year's sabbatical leave granted me by the University of Michigan. I gratefully acknowledge not only this help, but also repeated small allocations for research and clerical assistance granted me by the Center for Russian and East European Studies of the University of Michigan. My special thanks go to the Director and the archival staff of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York, which allowed me to read the voluminous unpublished correspondence of Braun and her family . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.