October 17, 2021
Marie Juchacz born Gohlke, (1879–1956) was a German social reformer, social democrat and feminist. Under her leadership, the social aid organization Arbeiterwohlfart (AWO) was founded on December 13, 1919. After the introduction of women's suffrage in Germany, she was the first woman to speak in the Weimar Assembly on February 19, 1919. Juhacz grew up in poor conditions and worked from she was 14 years old. Through her brother, she got in touch with the SPD. In 1905, after a short marriage, she divorced as a single mother. She went with her sister Elisabeth Kirschmann-Röhl to Berlin, where she became politically active. When the ban on women doing political work was lifted in 1908, she joined the SPD. There she became involved in welfare work. Friedrich Ebert recruited her to the party's board, and in 1917 she succeeded Clara Zetkin as women's secretary. Social issues were her central area of interest and she worked in the Riksdag for a minimum social standard. She founded the aid organization Arbeiterwohlfahrt (AWO), which still existed in 2021. The association quickly grew to 100,000 volunteer helpers and thousands of subgroups. The central idea was that working women should be able to help themselves, without being dependent on bourgeois welfare organizations. When the National Socialists took power in 1933, she had to flee, first to Alsace and then to New York. In 1949, she returned to Germany (West Germany), to rebuild the AWO. Juhacz is considered by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Orte der Demokratiegeschichte to be one of 100 people who have been most important to German democracy over the past 200 years.