Feminist, Pacifist, Provocateur

Hannelore Mabry and the Bavarian Archive of the Women’s Movement (Bayerisches Archiv der Frauenbewegung)

Hannelore Mabry, one of the most colorful personalities of the New German Women’s Movement of the 1970s and 1980s, would have turned 91 on August 27. She transferred her extensive estate, including the Bayerisches Archiv der Frauenbewegung (Bavarian Archive of the Women’s Movement) to the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ). Mabry’s materials provided a solid basis for the New Social Movements/Women’s Movement archive, which the IfZ has been expanding to create the largest collection of the sort in Southern Germany. The holdings offer a wide range of potential for research into gender studies within the field of contemporary history.

Hannelore Mabry was born as Hannelore Katz in Chemnitz on August 27, 1930. After graduating from Gymnasium (high school), she attended acting school in Bonn and appeared as Lorley Katz on the stages of Pforzheim, Karlsruhe, Rheydt, Essen, and Nuremberg. In July 1956, she married her second husband, the American Paul Michael Mabry, and lived in Boston until June 1958, where she presented the “German Radio Hour” on the radio. She returned with her daughter to Germany in 1958 and worked again to establish herself as an actress.

After moving to Munich, she decided to start over, now studying sociology, economics, political science, and psychology at the city’s Ludwig Maximilian University, beginning in Winter Semester 1966/1967. Her Diploma Thesis in February 1971 was titled “Die Relevanz weiblicher parlamentarischer Arbeit für die Emanzipation der Frau. Versuch einer politisch-soziologischen Studie über die weiblichen Abgeordneten des Bayerischen Landtages von 1946-1970” (“The Relevance of Female Parliamentary Work for Women’s Emancipation: An Attempt at a Political-Sociological Study of Female Members of the Bavarian Landtag, 1946-1970”). It was subsequently published in 1972 with the title “Unkraut ins Parlament” (“Weeds to Parliament”). For the title, Hannelore Mabry adopted the words of the former Bavarian Landtag president Michael Horlacher, who once stated: “Als Einzelne wirkt die Frau wie eine Blume im Parlament, aber in der Masse wie Unkraut” (“One woman in parliament has the effect of a flower but large numbers have the effect of weeds”).

„Frauenforum“ and „Der Feminist“

In 1971, Mabry began to dedicate all of her efforts to the women’s movement, founding “Frauenforum München e.V.” (FFM) in December of that year, which became the largest women’s political organization in West Germany at the time. In 1972, she began writing for the magazine Informationen des Frauenforum München e.V., the first transregional feminist magazine for the new women’s movement. It was renamed Frauenforum - Stimme der Feministen (“Women’s Forum – Voice of Feminists”) in 1974. Mabry’s political style was met with criticism both within the organization and in the public arena. She parted with the organization in winter 1975 to found the “Förderkreis zum Aufbau der Feministischen Partei” (“Supporters for the Creation of the Feminist Party”), which was renamed “Förderkreis Der Feminist” (“Supporters of Der Feminist”) in 1990, referring here to the magazine Der Feminist, which began to appear in 1976.

Mabry gained national recognition in the 1980s with a number of high-profile campaigns. In winter 1983, for example, she joined with a few other women (and one man) in a fast to “help mothers against violence”, inside Munich’s Cathedral. The church authorities called the police to stop this unannounced “occupation of the Munich Liebfrauendom and trespassing by H. Mabry”.

Bavarian Archive of the Women’s Movement (Bayerisches Archiv der Frauenbewegung)

The estate of Emilie Schurig, a long-term supporter and peace activist, laid the foundations for a new project that Mabry took on in 1988, the Bayerisches Archiv der Frauenbewegung. The contents of the archive, which is meant to support the academic study of the women’s movement and women’s political education, comprised several hundred books, printed matter, newspapers and journals, ranging from association documents to collected information on women’s events and project. Mabry connected with the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) to secure the material for academic research into the future. After Hannelore Mabry passed in 2013, the IfZ took on over 550 archival materials from her estate, including her personal documents, correspondence, a large press collection, pictures, and other objects. Ute Elbracht has been the driving force behind the process on the part of the IfZ Archive. More detailed information can be found in the finding aid with the title Findbuch zum Bestand SAMMLUNG MABRY, HANNELORE / BAYERISCHES ARCHIV DER FRAUENBEWEGUNG

Magazines available online

The IfZ Archive has now digitized the two periodicals Frauenforum and Der Feminist, which were both central to the development of German feminism and are now fully available on the IfZ website. Texts in English are available as well. It was Hannelore Mabry’s wish to further support research on women’s history. Therefore, the Hannelore Mabry Fellowship was established, for which the first call for applications is currently open.  



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