Anita Augspurg

Article

December 8, 2021

Anita Theodora Johanna Sophie Augspurg (1857–1943) was Germany's first woman with a doctorate in law, and worked towards the end of the 19th century for women's social and political rights. The introduction of suffrage for women was her main goal, and this was introduced in Germany in 1918. In 1915, she participated in the founding of the International Women's League for Peace and Freedom, and was subsequently banned from publishing and speaking for the rest of the war. Together with, among others, her life partner Lida Gustava Heymann, in 1923 she requested in vain that Adolf Hitler be expelled from Germany. After taking power in 1933, she was listed by the National Socialists (Nazis) on a liquidation list. She then lived with Heymann in exile in Switzerland, for life.

Biography

Augspurg was born in Verden an der Aller in Lower Saxony, as the fifth and last child in a politically interested, liberal and well-educated family. His father had participated in the revolution of 1848 and was imprisoned for it. On both the mother's and father's side, there had been lawyers and medics for generations. Nevertheless, as a girl, she was not allowed to get a higher education, in order to then be able to study. After completing the higher girls' school, called daughter school, in German: Töchterschule, she began working in her father's law firm. There she was only allowed to perform simple tasks, and was dissatisfied with it. She attended a private teacher's seminar, and in 1879 took the teacher's and gymnastics teacher's exam. During the 1880s she worked as an actress in Meiningen, Augsburg and Amsterdam. In 1887, together with her then-girlfriend Sophie Goudstikker, she opened the photo studio Elvira in Munich. In 1899, she participated in the founding of the Verband Fortschrittlicher Frauenvereine (VFF). Along with her were, among others, women's advocates such as Minna Cauer, Helene Stöcker, Maria Lischnewska and Lida Gustava Heymann. society. This meant that the married woman would still lack the right to dispose of the financial means she brought into the marriage, and that she also had no right to make decisions in the upbringing of children. Augspurg campaigned against the proposal, and the press characterized it as a women's storm. The campaign did not lead to any change in the bill. The only change that Augspurg stood for was the fact that the campaign was actually held. Such a campaign was something completely new in a country where it was forbidden for women to participate in politics. For Augspurg's part, the proposal for a new law book led her to begin her law studies in 1893. In Germany, women were not allowed to study law, so she had to go to Zurich, Switzerland, to eventually graduate there. She combined this with her work as a photographer. In 1897 she returned to Berlin, as the first German woman with a law doctorate. Her doctoral dissertation was about parliamentarism in England.

Fight for equality and the right to vote

For the radical, bourgeois women, equality with men was a central theme. The most important single issue was the struggle for female suffrage. The movement's legal policy concept was based on gender equality, but also on criticism of the patriarchal, capitalist society. It went far beyond the struggle for formal equality. In September 1896, she attended the first International Congress of Women in Germany, the International Congress for Frauenwerke und Frauenbestrebungen. There she got to know the ten-year-younger women's rights activist Lida Gustava Heymann. From 1903, Heymann was her life partner and collaborator. Together with the millionaire heym Heymann, she became central in the bourgeois-radical women's movement in the 1890s. She worked in Minna Cauer's magazine Die Frauenbewegung (Women's Movement), and founded a number of radical women's associations that stood in

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