German Women in the Nineteenth Century: A Social History

By John C. Fout | Go to book overview

German Women Writers and the Revolution of 1848

LIA SECCI

We already have some understanding of certain German women writers who were directly committed to the cause of the Revolution of 1848, but a further examination of their work still has to be done to complete the picture. In general, the part played by German women in 1848 has been ignored, partly because of the lack of attention given them in traditional histories and partly because of the intrinsic difficulty of finding original sources, many of which were destroyed by the censors or kept in secret police archives. A first attempt, only partially successful, to re-evaluate the female contribution was made by Leo Busch in a 1926 study done on women in the Rhineland. 1 In 1928 Anna Blos wrote Die Frauen der deutschen Revolution von 1848. Zehn Lebensbilder (Women in the Gernwn Revolution of 1848. Ten Biographical Portraits), which was a onevolume study. The book dealt with Louise Otto-Peters, Mathilde Franziska Anneke, Louise Aston, Malvida von Meysenbug, Johanna Kinkel, jenny Marx, Emma Herwegh, Amalie Struve, Wilhelmine SchröderDevrient, and Maria Kurz. But the portraits were more hagiography than reliable sources because precise chronological and bibliographical references were lacking. 2

Veit Valentin, in his history of the 1848 German revolution, written in 1930-31, but still indispensable (it was in fact reprinted in 1977), gave some accounts of women's participation, particularly intellectuals like Malvida von Meysenbug, Emilie Wistenfels, and Louise Otto. 3 Louise Aston was mentioned briefly but only in a footnote. 4 Valentin dealt only a little with the revolutionary activities of working-class women. According to him, the six unknown women who fell on the Berlin barricades were

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