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Bertha Pappenheim. (Born 1859 in Vienna, Austria; Died 1936 in Iselberg, Germany). Social worker, author, and leader of the German feminist movement.

Pappenheim devoted her life to improving the social and economic position of Jewish women and children in Germany and successfully enlisted nationwide and international support for her causes as founder and leader of the Juedischer Frauenbund.

The third daughter of four children born to a wealthy Viennese Orthodox family, Pappenheim envied the attention and opportunities given to her younger brother Wilhelm and lamented her traditional upbringing as "only a girl." Pappenheim graduated from a Catholic school in Vienna with fluency in French, Italian, and English, though her intellectual potential was stifled as she dutifully awaited marriage and the leisured womanhood expected of her by family members. She engaged in occasional charity work at this time, and she would later encourage idled women of privilege to embrace charity and social justice campaigns.

After nursing her dying father, Pappenheim suffered debilitating psychological problems then classified as "severe hysteria." Eminent psychoanalyst Josef Breuer treated Pappenheim in Vienna from 1880-1882, documented her case, and made it known to Sigmund Freud, who referred to her in his own writings as "Anna O." Her symptoms (paralysis, hallucinations, inability to eat and drink, and suicidal tendencies), were relieved through hypnosis and explication of her memories, therapy that Pappenheim referred to as "chimney sweeping" and "talking cure." Eventually trained by Breuer to treat herself, Pappenheim was hailed by a later commentator as "the real discoverer of the cathartic method." Pappenheim suffered relapses and occasionally entered sanitarium during several years following her treatment by Breuer, until her relocation to Frankfurt in 1889.

With the help of concerned relatives, Pappenheim cultivated her growing interest in social justice, and in Frankfurt she was attracted to German feminism, particularly influenced by the work of activists like Helen Lange. In 1890, under the pseudonym of Paul Berthold, Pappenheim expressed her concern for children and the poor in a book of short stories entitled In the Second Hand Shop. Pappenheim committed herself to integrating her new passion for feminism with her concerns for social justice and her identity as a Jew. These interests formed the theme of her 1899 play, "Women's Rights," and spurred her to publish a German translation of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Women. After a series of jobs as a soup kitchen volunteer, nursery school administrator, and a headmistress of a Frankfort orphanage, Pappenheim published two pamphlets in 1910 that correlated poor educational opportunities with poverty among Jewish girls: "The Jewish problem in Galicia" and "On the Condition of the Jewish Population in Galicia." In 1902, Pappenheim founded the Care for Women Society (Weibliche Fuersorge), designed to place orphans in foster homes, educate mothers in child care, and provide vocational counseling and employment opportunities for women. As a representative of the Care for Women Society, Pappenheim traveled in the Middle East, Europe, and Russia and became greatly concerned with prostitution and white slavery, issues publicized in one of her most widely recognized publications, Sisyphus Work.

Pappenheim saw the need for a larger, nationwide organization devoted to Jewish social issues and women's concerns, independent of (and rival to) comparable institutions established by Jewish men. Along with several other activists, Pappenheim created the Juedischer Frauenbund in 1904, and she alone served as president for twenty years after its inception. The Frauenbund campaigned against the white slave trade, especially in Eastern Europe, and worked to enhance legal protection for women. Pappenheim characterized this aspect of her work as "Sysiphean" because the progress she made in awareness raising often brought about strong resistance from Jewish communities who denied the extent of social problems among their own ranks. Ironically, Pappenheim later witnessed the Nazis use her own reports of white slavery in Jewish circles as anti-Semitic propaganda. The Frauenbund also worked to establish women's equality with men in secular community matters: Pappenheim encouraged women to penetrate the ranks of the highly regulated Gemeinde, the German Jewish community. Career training, a third emphasis of the Frauenbund, was encouraged as a means to financial independence and personal fulfillment for women. Despite this, training was narrow and in fields traditionally associated with women, such as housekeeping, nursing and social work. Pappenheim ensured that knowledge of Jewish traditions concerning holiday and family observances was a central element this training.

In addition to editing and publication of the Frauenbund's periodicals, Pappenheim translated into modern German the Memoirs of Gluekl von Hameln, a distant relative (1910). In 1913 and 1916, respectively, Pappenheim published a play, "Tragic Moments," and several short stories sharing the themes of the status of women in Judaism, anti-Semitism, and assimilationism. Pappenheim criticized Zionism harshly in her writings, considering it divisive to families and neglectful of women's issues. After leaving the presidency of the Frauenbund, during a period of declining health, Pappenheim translated the Maaseh Buch (a collection of traditional Jewish narratives), the Ze'enah u-Re'enah (an 16th century women's bible), the Five Megillot, and the Haftarot. Toward the end of her life, Pappenheim patriotically spoke out against emigration of Jews from German, despite rising anti-Jewish legislation. She died shortly after an interview with the Gestapo in 1936 concerning an anti-Hitler remark made by one of her former wards. Her death was commemorated with a small funeral, and she penned the obituary for herself: "In 1904, she founded the Juedischer Frauenbund-its importance is not yet fully understood. The Jews of the entire world-men and women-owe her thanks for this social achievement. But they withhold it. What a pity!"

Selected Bibliography:

Dresner, Ruth Rapp. "The Work of Bertha Pappenheim". Judaism 30 (1981): 204-11.
Edinger, Dora. Bertha Pappenheim: Freud's Anna O. Highland Park, Illinois: Congregation Solel, 1968.
Edinger, Dora. Bertha Pappenheim, Leben und Schriften. Frankfurt/M: Ner Tamid Verlag, 1963.
Ellenberger, Henri F. "The Story of Anna O: A Critical Review with New Data." Journal of the History of Behavioral Sciences (July, 1972): 267-79.
Jensen, Ellen. "Anna O-A Study of Her Later Life." The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 39 (1970): 269-93.
Kaplan, Marion A. "Bertha Pappenheim: Founder of German-Jewish Feminism." In The Jewish Women: New Perspectives, edited by Elizabeth Koltun, 149-63. New York: Schocken Books, 1976.
Kaplan, Marion A. The Jewish Feminist Movement in Germany: The Campaigns of the Judsicher Frauenbund, 1904-1938. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979.

--Melissa Aubin

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