Anna Lindemann to Jane Addams, April 16, 1921

Württemberg, Germany
April 16th 1921

Dear Miss Addams,

I hear from Mrs Chapman Catt, that she has sent you a copy of an appeal I addressed to her for help in a [matter] I have very much at heart. I had myself intended to write to you, but my time is so entirely taken up by my ↑official↓ work and my duties as house mother that at this time I was not able to do more than write to Mrs Catt, whom I needed not tell much about the objects I wanted help for, as at the recent Board meeting of the I.W.S.A. in London I had told her a great deal about them. Mrs Catt's answer -- full of kindness and affectionate interest -- has been some what of a disappointment. We women here who are fighting against hopeless odds, know of course that the greater part of the civilized world is economically in a difficult position at present, and yet we cannot help feeling that what to a country like the U.S.A. is a passing inconvenience, [means] for our own country a constantly accelerated sliding into an abyss of whom nobody yet knows whether there will be a way out for [illegible] future generations. When I wrote to Mrs Catt, what I had at heart was something like the following: During the war we German women, especially those trained by the women's movement, took -- as women in all belligerent countries have done -- on our own initiative an active part in fighting the disastrous effects that the war from the beginning had exercised on the home, on the women wage-earners, on the children. With the blockade and our more and more perfected isolation, the task grew [heavier?]. The more it [became] difficult, the more we learned. I was glad to say, our "Women's National Service" has given its services only to home needs and distress, and had carefully avoided any participation in war propaganda and the like. When the catastrophical down-break after the war, called the [illegible], suddenly brought us political rights, we did [page 2] -- and have ever since continued to do -- our best to continue in the [discussion?] so successfully taken up in war-time. Here in our former kingdom of [Württemberg], [illegible] a serious, hard-working, intelligent population, the "Women's National Service" of which I had been the chief organizer, had started a number of undertakings that had proved a great blessing. We decided to [lay?] [illegible] as hard as could be to carry some of them on into what is technically called the time of peace. So far we have succeeded. But now I am becoming rather hopeless. The horrible poverty which is our present lot, is only slowly [working] its way. [Every things?] work together to veil and dissimulate it at first. But with a horrible rate of progression it is eating itself into the bones and the marrows of our people. Not alone that, [with?] the exception of a comparatively very small section of the population, the whole nation is rapidly exhausting its entire resource in clothes, furniture etc. and is sinking to a level left centuries ago, -- the public [funds] -- in spite of the quite incredibly hard taxation and the almost unbelievable rise in all kinds of dues -- are utterly unable to even keep up what we had in social welfare institutions before the war. There can therefore be no hope whatever for us women to find financial assistance for our ↑new↓ work in our own country, [if women's] work, it is work not built on the basis of [illegible], we have never appealed to any ↑special↓ [charity?] or class or religious set of feelings. The work we are trying to keep going is entirely grounded on the desire to help the women who wish to help themselves. The object is always to make them stronger for the fight with life, to enable them to do their work better and more efficiently. The institutions I am at present appealing for are three. ↑One of these↓ I have started [illegible] without any other financial help [than] what we in the Women's National Service earned by our business undertakings in which we employed the women whom the war had thrown out of work. That is our School for Mothers. I do not known if there is anywhere else something exactly like it. In Germany it is the first, and I hear that the English Schools for Mothers are not quite the same. Our School has been going on for more than 4 years now and has proved an enormous blessing. It consists of the School itself, in which [illegible] women doctors, trained nurses and excellent pedagogical teachers teach the women -- women expecting their first child, newly married women, women who have lost babies etc. etc. -- how to [page 3] prepare for the coming child, how to nurse it, feed it, clothe it; the women doctor teaches how to treat it in cases of illness, ↑at what [times?] to call a doctor↓ what to do till the doctor arrives, how to carry out the doctor's precepts and so forth. The women pedagogue teaches how to educate the child, from the first day of its life (and before!). The chief part of the teaching of course teach the small child; but the whole course follows the child till it leaves school; the dangers of the [illegible] borderland between childhood and youth, physical and psychical, are specially [and] fully treated. The School possesses a ↑[illegible]↓ lovingly brought together of everything you can think of to help the purpose, down to [collection?] of good and bad toys, good and bad picture books and so forth. Every lesson is divided into a theoretical and a practical part. The women learn all that is to be done to the child by practicing it first on a big doll and later on live babies. They learn to prepare the food, to make suitable clothes [etc]. They also learn how to [occupy] the growing child to its own advantage. We have added a Crêche and a Kindergarten to the School, so that the women can see the practical application of all they have been taught. In the Kindergarten the Montessori-method is applied (combined with elements from Fröbel) and it is wonderful to see how the women are interested in these ideas. The School has also concern for elder sisters, for young nurse-maids, for unemployed women and so forth. The former pupils keep coming for advice, and as a system of Evenings for Mothers has developed, to which -- at the earnest desire of the women -- we have lately added evenings for parents, to which the husbands are brought, because the wives want them to learn more about education! --  I can only give you a very feeble impression of what is being done. There is life in the School, [earnest] endeavor and much love for the work. We have many friends for it -- but little money!

My second great one is our [holiday] Home for women ↑[workers?]↓. I started it in the last year of the war. The Minister of War had called me as a [councilor] on women's questions and it was my and my colleagues' work to protect the women doing war-work as well as possible against the bad effects of that work. We soon found that the few existing holiday homes were either too expensive or [took?] the women too late, when some definite [illegible] had already been acquired. With the help of funds given at that time talk by the [page 4] Empress Augusta Victoria and by the Imperial Government we started a Home, very well situated and in every way suited for the purpose. We have kept it going till now, but in a few months' time the available funds will be at an end. There we take women in all cases, where a stay of some weeks in the Home will enable the woman to go on with her work ↑and where no other Holiday Home is available↓. We also take exhausted mothers of large families. The price is so far as possible adapted to the economic position of the women. This Home is as far as I know the only one of its kind. We lay great [illegible] on the mental atmosphere of the place. The Matron is a kind of genius, who knows how to bring gladness and joy to the most overworked and downtrodden creature. She has from the beginning established kindly relations between our Home "Little Switzerland" and a neighboring Deaf and Dumb Asylum as well as an Institution for the Blind. Our downhearted women workers, as they gradually gain heart in the peace of the homely atmosphere of the Home, begin to [invent?] (gently led by the Matron) all sorts of amusements and pleasures for the inmates of those two homes. It is wonderful how this apparently very simple device helps to bring about the surprisingly good effects of the home. We have kept it free from every tinge of officialdom -- and we are very happy to see how much good can be worked in a comparatively very simple way. Since the end of the war I have been taken over ↑as [councilor] on question of women's work↓ by the Ministry of [Labor], and the Holiday Home is now being carried on under supervision of the Government, but we are given entirely free hand in its management. But though all the official places that have anything to do with the Home, value it quite as fully as we do, they are now and for the next few years, utterly unable to grant any means for it. These are heart-rending [illegible]; when one sees how much an institution is needed, how splendidly it works, and yet is forced to agree that the economic position of our country makes it impossible to get the necessary funds.

The third institution I am trying hard to keep up is also a child of the war. In order to be able to do the best we could for the women [page 5] [illegible], we established in the chief industrial places of the country what we call: Hilfostellen für [illegible], Welfare Centers for women workers. These do not give charity, their one object is to assist the woman workers in all difficulties that either arise out of her work or that her work prevents her from seeing to herself. They have at present a great deal to do with unemployed women, teaching them new professions, getting them special grants in cases of exceptional need & so forth. They assist the workers (of all classes of course) in getting a needed time of rest; it is they, and the factory welfare workers who work hand in hand with them, who send the guests to our Holiday Home, provide for the children in the meantime and so forth. They also help in providing clothing etc. if it is needed for undertaking a new job of work. They help to get young girls good places as apprentices and if necessary they assist in fitting them out. I cannot enumerate all they do, the cases coming to them for advice are many and very various. The one common feature is that they are all women struggling through life with their own strength, who by the exceptionally hard conditions that women even more than men now have to reckon with in Germany, need a friendly hand to help them over particularly steep and stony places. In the first years we have been able to do much work with comparatively little money, because we had honorary work nearly everywhere. But the [illegible] circumstances make honorary work more and more impossible especially for women. Those women who used to devote their spare time to [this] work, belong nearly all of them to the categories that suffer most heavily from our present economical position. If we want to keep the work going, we must pay the workers at least for the 5 or 6 chief individual places. It would be a [sad?] pity indeed if it could not be kept going for these sad times in our country are [saddest] for women; it is hard to know whether of these it [illegible] the women, who must work and want to work suffer most, or those who ought to work but are for some reason unable to. We can in our Hilfostellen only care for the first class. They need more assistance than in former period of special economic distress. [German services] at present are to [illegible] the women workers. [page 6] All the men who [illegible] used to find work in the colonies, in the provinces were taken from us, in [illegible] and so forth, some pressing into our smaller and poorer country, asking for work to maintain their families. That makes the competition in the [labor] market, which is bad enough owing to our lack of coal and [illegible], very bitter indeed, and it is chiefly the women who have to suffer the consequences. On the other hand it will take years before [illegible] men have found their equilibrium again after the war and its consequences. Our Hilfostellen have very much to do with assisting women who must do paid work because their husbands simply will not sufficiently provide for the family. It is one of the symptoms of a great [illegible], but one falling very hard on many very valuable women and workers.

I hope I have given you something of an adequate idea of these purposes for which I need funds (and need them soon!). It may seem curious that I address myself to the women of a country quite lately still formally at war with us. But -- apart from the fact that there are very many Americans of [illegible] origin who will perhaps be glad to help their old country -- I feel sure that the spirit of our work, the effort to help those who try hard to help themselves, must appeal especially to American women. The value of American money is high at present, and it goes very far in our Country. I cannot see any other hope to keep up the work I have spoken of beyond the end of the autumn, or [illegible] winter at the very utmost. That is why I appeal to you to help me. My letter has lain unfinished for almost a month. You know -- though nobody outside our Country can really and fully know -- how dark and sad these last weeks have been for us. It seemed impossible in those days to reach out one's hand for help. All strength was needed to bear up inwardly against the dark forces bearing down upon us. But time presses. I have waited too long already. I cannot tell you in words how thankful I shall be if you can be of help to me in the matter I have laid before you.

Yours very sincerely

Anne Lindemann
[illegible]. 6