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Walther von Hollander, Women’s Issues – Women’s Worries (1946)

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Fourth letter: I am neither ugly nor pretty, and since I have calculated that now there are about 100 men for every 150 women, I gave up from the start. It was not very difficult for me. Given the sorts of marriages I see among my acquaintances, it’s not like one should go to great lengths to be married. And the men, they way they generally are . . . no thank you! I want to study, then. I am very much interested in medicine. But it will be very difficult there, too. Men do not want women to study medicine. They would like it best if women as such were prohibited from studying. I am thus supposed to have neither a husband, nor, if men had their way, a profession. That is really unfair. [ . . . ]

[ . . . ]

I could go on quoting for an hour and present you with a vast number of women’s portraits and women’s fates. Women who on their own fight for the hearts of men, women who are fighting for men to conquer the world through them, women who had given up, and, above all, women who deplore the fate they believe men have created for them. Add to this the women who are determined henceforth to increase the womanly influence on world history, and to gain, through the establishment of women’s organizations and women’s parties, a power that will allow them to save the world from the disastrous, unilateral decisions by men.

[ . . . ]

And the women who have lost their husbands and cannot forget, the women who are waiting for the missing and for whom life seems to pass by without any apparent meaning? – Many women will be and remain alone. Many hearts will hold a vigil at unknown graves, before rubble, and at horrible execution sites. Endless is the number of victims, and very large the mass of those one must honestly mourn for! The women will be alone, and no one can spare them this curse. They must make a home in this loneliness, and it is an inhospitable home. And many will also have to mourn a lost homeland, made poorer by memories than those who never had anything. A great wave of sadness and loneliness will wash over the world. The only thing one can tell these women as consolation is that they should try to understand their fate as an example that should be given to many women. As an example, namely, that women, regardless of what men think, are capable of being and living alone and can still make something of their lives. That will not be possible without tears and without pain. But what could come out of this would be something very beautiful. Namely, the first step toward genuine independence for women, the proof that woman is a self-contained being even without a man, just as a man can lead a self-contained life without a woman.

[ . . . ]

Source: Walther von Hollander, Nordwestdeutsche Hefte, 2 (1946), p. 21 ff; reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann, Die doppelte Staatsgründung: Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1955 [The Founding of Two German States: German History, 1945-1955]. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986, pp. 367-69.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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