Today in women’s history: Lida Gustava Heymann born

Lida Gustava Heymann was born in Hamburg, Germany on March 15, 1868.

Heymann, along with her life partner, Anita Augspurg, was a leading figure in the women’s rights movement in Germany.

Heymann was one of the founders of the Verband Fortschrittlicher Frauenveriene (the Association of Women’s Groups).

She was also a founder of the abolitionist movement in Germany. In the German context of the time “abolitionist” meant the abolition of prostitution. Prostitution in Germany, in the late 19th century and early 20th century was officially allowed but “regulated” by state and local governments.

This brought Heymann in conflict, of course, with the law. Heymann argued passionately that an end to state regulation of prostitution, and then an end to prostitution altogether, were key if women were ever to “free themselves from male domination.”

Heymann inherited a large fortune and spent much of it setting up women’s centers at which prostitutes and other economically suppressed women could come for free meals, lodging and counseling.

She also established one of the first co-educational high schools and numerous professional associations for female clerks and theatre workers.

In the beginning of the 20th century she turned her attention to the right to vote. In 1902 she co-founded, with Augspurg, the Verein fur Frauenstimmrecht (Society for Women’s Suffrage.)

She then began to campaign hard for many pacifist, feminist and democratic positions on a number of issues. This approach to issues was presented in Frau im Staat, a newspaper she published from 1919 to 1933.

In 1923 Heymann and Augspurg called for Adolf Hitler to be expelled from Germany.

When Hitler seized power in 1933 they were luckily both in Switzerland and never returned to Germany.

The Nazis confiscated their newspaper and all the rest of their property.

Heymann died in 1923 in Switzerland.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons



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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.