Biography of Hildegard Hamm-Brücher


When Hildegard Hamm-Brücher died in late 2016, she was seen as the grande dame and moral authority of the Federal Republic of Germany and its liberalism. Over the last few years of her life, she herself worked toward framing the interpretive narrative of her life and her political activity in a certain way. The aim of this project is to ascertain whether and to what end she contributed to an intentional construction of remembrance, for example, with regard to her membership in the “White Rose” resistance group. The project will focus in particular on the question of how she was able or unable to succeed as a woman in a political world dominated by men, and what sort of concept of women’s emancipation she developed. It will investigate the extent to which her understanding of democracy, parliamentarianism, and liberalism was formed by her experiences of National Socialism, and whether and in which way it changed under the influence of Western models. This will also take into account the close connection that Hildegard Hamm-Brücher made between democracy and education policy as well as the values of her youth that were rooted in the educated middle class. Another topic to be researched is her politics of remembrance, beginning in the 1980s, which was driven by her fear that issues that had been repressed since 1945 might return. The goal of the study is a biography in the classical sense, but one which focuses on the construction of people’s own self-image.

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