On the Occasion of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Alice Salomon: The Forgotten Citizen – Culture

In May 1933, Alice Salomon received a letter from the Reich Ministry of the Interior as Director of the German Academy for Women’s Social and Pedagogical Work, which she had founded eight years earlier. She was asked to dismiss Jewish teacher and economist Hilda Lyon, who had been the director of the Academy since 1929. The educational institution was, as it was said in the justification, “a breeding ground for communism.” Salomon later commented: “Of course this was ridiculous, if any, the students and teachers tended to be conservative. (…) I explained that we had Dr. Assad because she was the best at the job and one of the brightest women of her generation; she also had a life contract.”

In fact, Lyon was a member of the liberal German Democratic Party (DDP) before the Nazis came to power, and in 1924 he presented a thesis of sociologist Leopold von Wise on “Class Struggle and the German Catholic Women’s Movement”, which already contained a space in the expressed title towards socialist feminism, which she shares with the more conservative Salomon.

In Salomon’s retrospective account, the totalitarianism that shaped her attitude to the “woman question” and Judaism is recorded. Born in Berlin on April 19, 1872, the fourth of eight children of an upper-middle-class Jewish family – her father was a merchant, her mother came from a family of bankers in Breslau – from a young age she had experienced the gap that existed in various ways for women and Jews between the civil promise Freedom and reality. In contrast to socialist feminism, bourgeois feminism, which Salomon joined, responded not to this gap by calling for a revolution in society, but by changing it according to its own ideals.

The civic promise of freedom and equality as a moral duty

At the age of 21, she joined Girls and Women’s Welfare Groups, a charitable organization dedicated to encouraging middle-class women to work in the poor and improving their career prospects. The Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine (BDF), the umbrella organization of the bourgeois women’s movement, of which Salomon was vice president until 1920, was also dedicated to promoting women’s employment and welfare work.

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The fact that Salomon responded to the demand for the segregation of lions by referring to their accomplishments rather than their gender or origin was in keeping with their generosity. It was of no use. The National Socialists pushed Assad out of office, and Salomon thwarted the academy’s closure in 1933 by dissolving it. As early as 1929, in light of the electoral successes of the NSDAP, the International Association of Schools for Social Work founded the International Association of Schools for Social Work with chapters in Great Britain and the United States in order to secure the functioning of the Academy and Women’s Social School. It was founded in Berlin in 1908. Although it converted to Christianity in 1914 and viewed its Jewish origins as a background to spiritual experience rather than a cultural identity, the National Socialists considered it “alien to the people”. In 1937 she emigrated to New York via England.

imbued with individual experience

Salomon was denied a second job in America. Her research programme, Consistency and Family Disorder in the Present Day, which she began in 1928 with Gertrude Bommer, Chief of the Bahrain Defense Force, in the context of case studies on changes in the German family since the First World War. It was published until 1933, and did not continue. Her publications in social and economic history, such as Handbook of Feminism published in 1901, Representation of the Working Women’s Movement in Germany and Study of Social Therapy, a seminal work on social work, written in 1926 with Jewish teacher Siddy Wronsky, did not He did not have much of the positivism of the American social sciences to resonate in the United States.

Salomon’s attempts to print her autobiography, written in the 1940s, also failed. Her view of women’s professional and emotional history was too imbued with individual experience to be accepted in functional American sociology, but she was also too skeptical of the reliability of subjective experiences to gain popularity in the factual book market. In Germany, forgotten by the Nazi regime and largely unknown in the United States, she died on August 30, 1948 in New York.

Gender research based on critical theory and that of authors such as Ulrike Prokop, Sylvia Bovenchen, and Ute Frevert did not remember the origins of women’s research until the 1970s in the Federal Republic of Germany where Salomon was read again, although rarely reprinted. Her “Memoirs” were published 60 years after her death by Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin (ASH), the name of the successor institution to the women’s school she founded in 1991.

The fact that vocational schools, grammar schools, ICE, the park and countless streets are named after Salomon today, while there is still no complete version of her writing and ASH in the context of her adaptation to gender ideology – in stark contrast to Salomon’s emancipation – in January 2018, The fact that Eugene Gommeringer’s poem, accused of sexism, has been temporarily removed from its facade does not contradict the objectivity of Salomon’s work, but against the present.

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