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Finding A Space In Schools:
Female Doctors and the Reform of Girls’ Physical Education in Weimar Germany

Focusing primarily on the discourse of those women doctors who were members of the League of German Female Physicians, this article demonstrates that women became involved in the reform of girls’ physical education programs in the Weimar Republic’s vocational schools by offering a unique expertise to aid young girls in matters of health. Female physicians claimed to be more disposed to answer questions about what types of exercise fit adolescent girls’ bodies and best prepared girls for their future roles as mothers. Through their reform efforts, women physicians also revealed their own class biases in school healthcare, which often aimed at aiding working-class students and guiding working-class mothers in matters of health. By fashioning themselves as indispensable to the new subject of girls’ physical education, and rationalizing their work through biopolitics, women doctors carved out a niche for themselves in a hostile, male-dominated work environment through their professional writing.

In a 1961 autobiographical essay for Berliner Medizin, Dr. Ilse Szagunn reflected on her part-time position as a school doctor during the Weimar Republic. “Vita von Ilse Szagunn. Ein Lebensbild in der Zeit” (“Ilse Szagunn’s Vita: A Life Portrait”) characterized her wide-ranging responsibilities at the Charlottenburg vocational school in terms that combined the professional with the maternal. Until the vocational school fired her in compliance with the Doppelverdiener (double-earner) law, Szagunn oversaw 3,000 female students, promoted health care for children, fought for child-workers’ rights, and taught women about sexual health.1 Szagunn wrote with evident pride about her work with working-class fourteen to seventeen year olds, a generation of students who faced considerable social and economic obstacles: “Looking back, I always admired how they overcame all these difficulties and how the girl’s approach—I always said ‘my’ girl in my mind—was healthy and brave vis-à-vis the duties of work and life.”2 Decades later, Szagunn presented herself as having served as a surrogate mother to her students, emphatically insisting that she silently claimed them as her own. Aptly titled, Szagunn’s essay is both a “vita” insofar as it enumerates her accomplishments as a path-breaking female [End Page 38] doctor as well as a “Lebensbild” (life portrait) that narrates her development as an individual shaped by and responding to her times.

In the “vita,” Szagunn frequently described how, faced with her students’ material suffering, she extended the scope of her responsibilities beyond routine medical exams and advice. She explained, for example, that following the 1929 stock market crash, her students’ suffering moved her to lead a relief effort, distributing forty to fifty packages of groceries per month to needy students. Szagunn presented herself going above and beyond the normal duties of a part-time school doctor with anecdotes of collecting shoes, coats, and money, even finding a job for a student in especially dire need.3 In this way, Szagunn’s “vita” collapsed an archetype of maternal care into a professional identity in order to valorize her work and that of others like her. Thirty-one years after the Doppelverdiner law compelled to leave her profession, Szagunn’s account of her career and the pressures of the times in which she pursued it retrospectively crystalized a rhetoric of medical, educational, and maternal care that women doctors used in response to efforts to marginalize their contributions to the medical profession in the Weimar era.

Szagunn’s “vita” echoed the kinds of claims that women doctors made in their professional journal, Die Ärztin (The Female Physician), in their efforts to preserve and expand their place in the medical profession. The first generation of female physicians started their careers after World War I when a growing number of women were finishing medical school and men were returning to their jobs after the service. The convergence of the two overcrowded the profession. Men, often resentful and emasculated by the growing presence of women in the professions and public life, feared losing their jobs and authority in medicine. As a result, male physicians discriminated against their female colleagues, pushing them to the margins of the medical profession where they primarily treated women and children in counseling centers and schools. Schools became one of the few places where women doctors could get jobs in the Weimar era; but women doctors also embraced this work, underscoring their importance to the field of girls’ health education in their professional discourse. Women physicians created a space for themselves in the medical profession—namely as school doctors—in the face of discrimination from their male colleagues. A discriminatory male-dominated medical profession may have marginalized these women, but they also used the opportunities that new Weimar social programs offered and advocated their importance in women and children’s healthcare. Through the use of a maternal rhetoric, women physicians constructed a space for their work and expanded their own professional opportunities as experts about and activists for adolescent women’s health.4 [End Page 39]

Women doctors tapped into a feminine niche by acknowledging their ability to serve the nation’s female youth and showcasing their expertise. In their professional discourse, they made women’s health education their calling, casting themselves as indispensable to this new subject by offering what they considered superior knowledge to that of their male colleagues. They saw schools as a particularly fruitful site where they could stress their gendered contributions to the profession and medical practice, and where they could make unique interventions to girls’ physical education. Women physicians suggested, for example, that they were best suited to answer questions about what type of gymnastic activity girls required in preparation for motherhood or how much young women could exercise while menstruating. In short, they offered something to adolescent girls that male doctors did not: professional training and personal experience. Their rhetoric highlighted how their femininity and maternal instincts benefitted their work in schools. Embracing maternalism was not a particularly new strategy among German women, but given the biopolitical importance of their work and the school as a site of biopolitical training, this became a savvy way for female doctors to articulate a professional identity.5

It was not only discrimination that led women to occupy and carve out these spaces; rather, the biopolitical infrastructure established by the Weimar state made those spaces available to them. Historians have drawn attention to the expansion of the Weimar welfare state, as it transformed from a loose group of associations in the nineteenth century to a rationalized and centralized system, enshrined in the Weimar Constitution.6 The historian Edward Ross Dickinson, drawing from the social theorist Michel Foucault, identifies school education as just one component of biopolitics: “ideas, practices, and institutions focused on the care, regulation, disciplining, improvement, and shaping of individual bodies and the collective ‘body’ of national populations.”7

Female doctors’ work in youth physical education—as a part of biopolitics—was central to the Weimar welfare state, and should be understood as serving critical political and social goals unique to the Weimar Republic. One aspect of what made efforts in Weimar physical education unique was that biopolitical expertise was initiated both by the German state from above and by private organizations and individuals from below. While “the German state deliberately recruited citizens … to help it formulate and implement welfare policy … the policy initiative came from the other direction”—in this case from female physicians—“working to mobilize the authority and resources of the state to achieve the ends they defined for themselves.”8 Although countries throughout Europe and the United States adopted “strategies of biopoliticial management,” it was particularly important in [End Page 40] this case because it created the conditions by which female physicians took control of health curricula in order to codify a professional identity commensurate with the space the medical profession allotted to them.9

Biopolitical management led to the passage of the National Youth Welfare Law (Reichsjugendwohlfahrtsgesetz; RJWG) and shaped concerns about fostering the family and providing comprehensive welfare for women, couched in the context of a national rebuilding campaign and the perceived chaos in the aftermath of the First World War. School healthcare—a field that female physicians claimed—was among a host of other public health programs initiated by the state during the Weimar Republic, including marriage counseling and campaigns against prostitution, alcohol, and venereal disease. While discussions of physical education and sport were not unique to Germany during the interwar era, the impetus for such social welfare programs arose in light of the devastating effects of the Great War on marriage, the family, and fertility rates as well as the increasing spread of alcohol usage and venereal disease.10 The Weimar era experienced rising sexual promiscuity among youth, increased illegitimate childbirths, higher divorce rates, and the growth of women in the workforce—all of which led to a perceived shift away from the home, breakdown of the family, and a growing population of neglected youth. In his social history of the Weimar Republic, the historian Detlev Peukert argues that the word Jugend (youth) itself implied the total breakdown of social control and traditional ties. Peukert shows that public concern regarding youth not only involved the individuals themselves, but also equated to a problem of control in all of society.11 Even the historian Richard Bessel, who highlights the hyperbolic character of the perceived moral collapse of society, underlines its importance in framing public debates during the first years of the Republic.12

Women doctors appropriated the rhetoric of the burgeoning welfare state and the institutions created by it in order to broaden female students’ basic rights. Women overwhelmingly labored in and benefited from the growing social welfare fields of the Republic.13 Female physicians were no exception to this rule, as they used their domestic experiences as mothers to argue for their superior ability to provide healthcare instruction in vocational schools. As the “entitlement to the services of the welfare state was declared a basic right of German citizens,” female physicians offered female students equal yet different physical education programs based on their maternal reasoning that they knew what was best for adolescent girls’ bodies.14 Often the maternal rhetoric women doctors employed in school health reform revealed their class biases (tinged with eugenics) against working-class students and their mothers, and they made professional advancements at the expense of these students. Their efforts in Weimar youth [End Page 41] health education became tied to the biopolitical goals of the state and linked to a national rebuilding campaign in the aftermath of First World War, which, according to the historian Elizabeth Harvey, included elements of “imposing … healthy and orderly norms of behavior on the working classes.”15 The historians Seth Koven and Sonya Michel emphasize the uniqueness of class in the Weimar welfare state, namely how women of different classes positioned themselves with regards to social policy.16 Middle-class female doctors fought to expand the scope of the welfare state’s physical education programs for lower-class women, but only by imposing their own class values on them and making professional gains at their expense. For women doctors, building biopolitics from below was liberating, as it provided them the opportunity to carve out a unique space of power in the medical profession, but it also had complex effects for their students.

Facilitating Weimar Youth Health Education

The RJWG was the state’s means for overseeing all youth-related concerns, and women doctors, newly professionalized in the first years of the Weimar Republic, facilitated youth health education as potential administrators of this new law. Beginning with the newly ratified 1919 Weimar Constitution, national legislation guaranteed the systematic and comprehensive provision of youth welfare.17 The Reich Ministry of the Interior circulated initial proposals for the RJWG in April of 1919 and discussion about the law began in the Reich Council one month later. The RJWG, which eventually passed in June 1922, was couched in the context of Germany’s national crisis, rationalized by “the unspeakable mental and physical sufferings of the war, the great crisis of the revolution and the harsh peace treaty.”18 After establishing the basic rights of children and the duties of the family, the law determined that the role of public welfare was to intervene in the interests of the child when the family could not adequately provide an education. This struck a similar chord as the Weimar Constitution. The RJWG, after much debate and compromise, became effective through an emergency decree in February 1924.19

These postwar concerns, justified through Germany’s perceived crisis, provided women doctors an opportunity to make girls’ physical education a central part of this youth welfare agenda. As nascent managers of new national policies, they used conferences and journal publications to demand the extension and modification of physical education curriculum for girls. This shows that they were also reacting to the conservatism of the RJWG, which gave more power to state and local authorities and made a number of the initially planned duties of state public welfare optional.20 Although [End Page 42] the RJWG initially provided for girls by petitioning for the inclusion of girls’ physical education in vocational schools, women doctors were reacting to a biopolitical discourse generated by the RJWG and taking things into their own hands by insisting on the expansion of public youth welfare.

Female physicians harnessed the progressive spirit of reform. Their demands for a school health curriculum to accommodate girls reflected a “time of exuberant pedagogical innovation and optimistic plans to reform the stratified educational system in the name of democracy and social justice,” which the historian Marjorie Lamberti argues characterized the Weimar Republic.21 Lamberti describes how elementary school teachers organized in the German Teachers’ Association and advocated to overturn Germany’s rigid school system, which, patterned after the stratified class structure of society, limited access to secondary and higher education for those students who were not of a particular economic class. In addition to the national attention towards youth welfare, this reformist atmosphere of the early 1920s significantly animated the campaign to change school health curriculum. The reformers’ modern schools, for one, provided a model for women doctors because they offered a gymnastics and sports curriculum that promoted physical fitness and self-confidence for both boys and girls.22 Women physicians’ attempts to fashion an identity through reforming girls’ physical education benefitted from the myriad reforms to the educational system that the German Teachers’ Association initiated alongside the German Democratic and Social Democratic Parties. Because educational reform was already an issue of controversy within domestic politics, this likely encouraged women doctors and left room for them to work their way onto the public scene. Following in the footsteps of their progressive pedagogical predecessors, they framed their arguments for girls’ access to suitable doctors and for their equal opportunities in school health as attributes of a democratic, welfare state. The possibilities suggested by Weimar democracy, whether real or imagined, gave female physicians a legitimate platform to make demands for the health education of women, and thereby forge a place in the profession for themselves.

After a long struggle gaining admission to universities at the end of the nineteenth century and recurring discrimination once in school, women began graduating with German medical degrees in 1901.23 During the Great War, the first generation of female doctors was still in medical school; but in the Weimar period, the professionalization of women in medicine intensified. In 1925, women made up 5.4 percent of all doctors (2,572 of 47,904). Women comprised 8.6 percent of the medical profession (or 4,367 of 51,067 total doctors) by 1933.24 They also founded a professional organization, the League of German Female Physicians (Bund Deutscher Ärztinnen, BDÄ), and [End Page 43] an accompanying journal. Three hundred women from Berlin founded the BDÄ in 1924; it had 600 members by the end of its first year in existence.25 They came from a variety of political and religious backgrounds; in the Weimar era, approximately one-third of them were Jewish. Die Ärztin did not necessarily include the voices of all women in the profession, but it became the organization’s main oratory platform. The journal also reflected prominent social welfare concerns among female physicians—abortion, birth control, marriage counseling, school health curriculum, prostitution, venereal disease, tobacco, alcohol, and other social welfare questions—and was the BDÄ’s way of tracking women’s position within the medical field.

While the Weimar Constitution guaranteed women’s full professional equality by removing all discrimination against them in public service (which included large numbers of teachers as well as doctors and lawyers), the promises made by the Constitution did not reflect reality in the medical field.26 Women often found it more difficult than their male colleagues to gain state positions, whether in hospitals, prisons, or courts. The elite health insurance funds also favored male doctors.27 Hoping to maintain the exclusivity of their profession, male doctors were fearful of and emasculated by professional competition from women, who they thought were threatening to replace them in the workforce.28 Weimar medical authorities often issued warnings regarding the overcrowded profession to medical students.29 The male medical profession pushed women into peripheral roles where they would primarily treat women and children, citing the need for their “feminine qualities of maternal empathy and warm-hearted kindness.”30 While male doctors excluded women on these grounds, women physicians seized this rhetoric and claimed that it was precisely these qualities that made them better doctors for female patients and students. In other words, they turned this marginalization into a special niche that enabled them to claim a position in the profession.

Because of the state and insurance prejudices against women doctors, they had limited options when it came to the type of medicine they could practice. Most women served as general practitioners in large cities or were confined to areas of medicine where they treated primarily women and children like pediatrics or gynecology. In the late 1920s, over half of women doctors were in general practice, and of those who specialized almost half were in pediatrics and another 15 percent were in women’s specialties.31 This trend was also the norm in the early 1930s, as nearly 60 percent of female physicians specialized in children’s illnesses or women’s ailments.32 The profession’s discrimination against women and the widespread belief that they should only treat women and children, which dated back to the nineteenth century, led women to appropriate the fields of public health [End Page 44] and welfare. Women often worked in spaces like schools and counseling centers in supplementary positions that were part time, that did not pay very well, and that their male colleagues eschewed.33 It was in these fields (like schools), however, that women physicians stressed their special gendered contributions to the profession, not only by treating female patients and students with more care and empathy than their male colleagues, but also by developing physical education programs that specifically targeted women’s bodies and abilities.

Justifying Female School Doctors in Vocational Schools

By the mid-1920s, the growing number of female physicians began to take advantage of the national focus on youth welfare as they rallied for female doctors to treat female students and for a separate gendered curriculum for these students in the nation’s vocational schools (Berufsschule). Their interests did not expand to the more academic Gymnasium, the most advanced of German secondary schools, nor did women doctors seem to be employed there. Female youth, in particular, became the concern of social reformers and female physicians in light of the biopolitical consequences that women’s health had for the future of the Volk since women were considered the guardians of the next generation.34 Health education already existed in German elementary schools, as was the case elsewhere in Europe, where school doctors provided children with a general introduction to physical education up to the age of fourteen.35 During World War I, however, members of the medical community voiced concerns that doctors also needed a presence in the higher schools, namely the vocational schools, as this was a crucial period (ages fourteen to eighteen) in the schooling of Germany’s working-class adolescents who learned a trade.36 During puberty, young girls and boys experienced new psychological and physical changes and were therefore most susceptible to peer pressures that could negatively affect their upbringing. The postwar period initiated a new sense of economic urgency to develop vocational education and it was also when the children of working-class families began to attend vocational schools en masse. State officials crafted a program to modernize German industry through technological and organizational innovation, which necessitated a mass of semi-skilled and unskilled labor, as well as highly-trained technical specialists and managerial staff. Vocational schools—now viewed as crucial to helping the economy and the industrialization process—became the topic of national debate in the early years of the Republic.37

Social Democrats, bourgeois feminists, socialist women, and organized housewives participated in this debate by deliberating how to prepare [End Page 45] young female workers for their future roles as housewives and mothers through vocational schooling.38 Women doctors similarly thought that the key task of vocational education was to prepare girls for domesticity, and they sought out ways to accomplish this in their positions as school doctors. Their vision of domesticity, however, was based on their own middle-class ideals where the vocational school served as a wholesome refuge from “the stresses of the workplace, the [perceived] unhealthy environment of the proletarian neighborhood, and the chaos of the working-class household.” It provided working-class female students with middle-class values based around “regular work and a rationally-organized lifestyle.”39 Female physicians argued for their employment in these schools precisely because schools were where adolescent girls developed their reproductive organs, constituted a population at risk, and ultimately needed health guidance as how best to prepare their bodies for housework and motherhood. Most of the discussion among women doctors in Die Ärztin revolved around the need for separate female doctors for female students in vocational schools, as well as a distinct physical education curriculum based upon girls’ differing needs and maturity during puberty.

The discourse about schools in their professional journal was not the only site where gender norms and the female body were a matter of debate during the Weimar Republic. In 1925, the League of German Women’s Associations (Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine; BDF), an organization in which female doctors were involved and the German National Committee for Physical Exercise (Deutscher Reichsausschuß für Leibesübungen; DRL), the umbrella-organization for sports in Germany, organized the First Public Conference on the Physical Education of Women.40 It was the first public forum to discuss the form and goals of girls’ physical education—a concern that would merit national consideration in the future.41 The organizers recognized the increasing urgency and significance of the physical education of girls, especially considering their responsibility as the bearers of future generations. The president of the DRL, in his opening remarks, noted the “enormous importance of the event in view of the weakening of national strength throughout the war and postwar years.”42 Organizers also insisted that women determine the direction and goals of girls’ physical education, based on their “precise knowledge of the physical and mental conditions for their development.”43 The large number of female participants preparing for and attending the conference, as well as the overwhelming majority of female voices in the conference report and subsequent publication, substantiate the organizers’ call for women to be involved in guiding the objectives of girls’ physical education.44 With their strong presence at the 1925 conference, this generation of “New Women” clearly included female doctors [End Page 46] who worked to mold the next generation of “New Women” in matters of health.45 As women, and especially doctors, became increasingly involved in sports associations and workplace health in the Weimar era, schools served as another location where female physicians presented themselves as reforming health education for Germany’s future generations.46

In general, women doctors agreed that it was acceptable for male and female doctors to care for male and female students in elementary schools. Hermine Heusler-Edenhuizen, a practicing doctor in Berlin and the first president of the BDÄ, did not see the necessity of starting a different physical education curriculum until the adolescent years, at which point, the objective of male physical education focused on potential performance and outwardly strength, whereas the priority for females was to strengthen them for activities “which nature has imposed on [their bodies]”—namely, childbearing and motherhood.47 Dr. Paula Heyman, a Jewish, socialist school doctor in Berlin, agreed that for students above the age of fourteen, boys should have a male doctor and girls should have a female doctor.48 The rationale behind providing female doctors for female students in the vocational schools was to teach older students about health matters and to provide suitable sex education, especially since women physicians assumed the mothers of their students often failed to educate their children adequately in matters of sex, health, and hygiene at home. This was a primary reason that Heusler-Edenhuizen and Susanne Altstaedt believed that staffing schools with doctors could solve these problems. Altstaedt, a school physician who took over the medical care of a few girls’ vocational schools in Lübeck in 1924, viewed school doctors as the most appropriate professional group to teach children about the dangers of venereal disease and other issues they did not learn about at home. She thought that doctors fit this role well because they understood the importance of tact and respected the appropriate boundaries of their patients when discussing sexual matters, and thus, would not harm the modesty of young girls.49 Heusler-Edenhuizen praised the important educational capacities of schools, particularly in light of problems that occurred at home. She targeted “poor” and “mentally endangered children” as worthy of special treatment.50 It was in these instances that Heusler-Edenhuizen’s class biases became tied to her eugenic leanings. Because teachers and doctors gave the most attention to “problem” children by intervening in the lives of working-class or mentally ill children, Heusler-Edenhuizen reveals how class-based eugenics and a confused sense of social justice tinged her reform efforts, as they aimed to minimize the risks these children posed to the rest of society. In other words, she claimed female physicians could care for female bodies to prevent further risk to the German national body. [End Page 47]

By criticizing the abilities of mothers to provide adequate sexual and health education for their own children in Die Ärztin, female physicians elevated the significance of school instruction and created a way to fit themselves within the educational system. Edith von Lölhöffel, a practicing doctor in Charlottenburg and a contributor to various physical education organizations and courses in Berlin, pointed out the “great ignorance” that existed among mothers and housewives of all classes—“the educators responsible for child-rearing”—as to how essential physical exercise was to the health of their children. She suggested a number of exercises mothers and housewives could do with their children at home. She also praised a workshop held in May 1929 by the German College for Physical Exercise, in which housewives gathered for six days to participate in daily exercise and hear affiliated lectures from doctors—a number of them by von Lölhöffel herself. Von Lölhöffel, thus, presented a desire to impart her knowledge about youth physical education to these mothers, but she also literally instructed mothers on how to do so giving lectures like “Physical Exercise for Infant and Small Children.”51 Practicing biopolitics, she fashioned a role for herself as a parent for these parents. Rather than being restrictive or creating a false sense of truth and freedom, biopolitics liberated von Lölhöffel, Heusler-Edenhuizen, and their colleagues who espoused classist and quasi-eugenic health policies as they created a new way to participate in health education, and thereby the medical profession.52

The BDÄ, which extensively discussed girls’ physical education programs in its journal, addressed the failure of German mothers with regard to health education and advocated health parenting in the home—an example of the state’s intrusion into the private sphere that became much more common under the Weimar welfare state. In 1925, the welfare office of Bautzen in Saxony asked the BDÄ to assist in producing a school leaflet to be distributed to mothers of school-aged children—an opportunity for female physicians to formulate welfare policy and contribute to a biopolitical discourse on the ground. This brochure, passed out to children on the first day of school and intended for them to take home to their mothers, offered very basic guidance on how a child should sleep, bathe, eat, play, and even when he or she should go to the bathroom. Dr. Lina Ramsauer, a practicing doctor in Oldenburg who wrote the medical portion of the brochure, described how school doctors assisted mothers in educating and caring for youth. The mother was accountable for ensuring the mental and physical development of her child; the doctor only provided additional information in undertaking this task. Ramsauer recognized, however, that thousands of mothers in Germany were either unable (based on their living or economic conditions) or unwilling to convey satisfactory advice and education to [End Page 48] their children.53 Having witnessed how these working-class mothers failed to provide basic care for their children, female physicians crafted a professional identity in which they assumed responsibility for the upbringing of other people’s children and imposed middle-class values of motherhood on working-class families. After all, the girls enrolled in vocational schools tended to come from working and lower middle-class families. Female doctors fashioned a rhetoric that elevated the significance of doctors in educating these vocational school students. Their professional journal accused working-class mothers of a failure to fulfill their responsibilities as parents, and presented women doctors as uniquely positioned to interfere in people’s domestic lives (at least discursively) to remedy this absence. This provides further evidence that the public-private dichotomy dissolved during the Weimar era. As the historian Atina Grossmann notes, “sex reform journals, advice books, and pamphlets carried their interventions straight into the home and bedroom,” as expert professionals gained insight into people’s private lives under the rubric of social welfare, marriage counseling, and now school health education.54 Through their rhetorical intervention into parenting principles, women doctors became a driving force behind the blurring of public-private boundaries in the Weimar welfare state.

Female physicians also claimed that issues of confidentiality and trust dictated that female doctors be employed in girls’ vocational schools. Dr. Ilse Szagunn asserted that it would be a “downright dereliction of duty” not to provide young girls, who were exposed to a variety of risks in their professional lives, education and words of warning, and “above all to give them the opportunity to turn to their female school doctor in full confidence with their needs.” Protecting the privacy of female students when it came to the taboo matters of sex and hygiene was reason enough for Szagunn to present the employment of female school doctors as “absolutely natural and self-evident.”55 Szagunn, who worked part-time from 1918 to 1931 as the nation’s first woman vocational school doctor, took the same approach in her discourse about school health care that she did in marriage counseling: young adolescent girls, she thought, trusted female school doctors with their intimate questions and problems, just as the female visitors to marriage counseling centers felt more confident speaking with female physicians there. According to Szagunn, it was not just women doctors who advocated this view; her membership in a health delegation showed that the majority of men also supported the employment of female doctors in girls’ vocational schools.56 Dr. Josephine Höber, an advocate for school health reform and a practicing Jewish physician in Kiel for over ten years before she immigrated to England and then to America, also confirmed that male authorities desired the cooperation of female doctors in evaluating adolescent girls during routine medical check-ups.57 [End Page 49]

Käte Gaebel, a representative for the BDF’s women’s professional office, defended the employment of female physicians in vocational schools because she feared that female students were not as honest with doctors of the opposite sex. She suggested that girls might withhold or exaggerate information in the presence of a male doctor, whereas they discussed the same information with a woman “without risk.”58 For Höber, the “erotic atmosphere” of school health classes, which addressed embarrassing subjects for girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen, merited the need for female school doctors who “[could] provide the most valuable and most comprehensive material” for girls experiencing menstruation, severe cramping, and other difficulties with the female genitalia during physical activity.59 These presumptions that working-class students were embarrassed or concerned with infringements upon their modesty might reflect doctors’ class biases or ignorance more than their female students’ actual inclinations. This was an era, after all, in which young women were inundated with information and witnessed charged debates about sex, health, and the body with political campaigns to abolish the statue that prohibited abortion; the use and marketing of birth control also dominated Weimar discourse.60 Nevertheless, by enticing female students with a trustworthy consultant and dependable source of information on taboo issues like menstruation, women doctors presented themselves as indispensable to the Weimar Republic’s schools—one of the few medical spaces open to them, but one that they solidified through their discourse, which emphasized their maternal abilities to help female students during a difficult time in their lives.

Expanding the Role of Women Doctors in Schools

Once employed in vocational schools, female doctors portrayed themselves as providing more than a feminine presence during school medical exams. They also linked birth control, eugenics, and childbearing to girls’ physical education and the nation’s future. In this sense, school healthcare generated an opportunity for female physicians to push professional boundaries, as they attempted to not only regulate their students’ mothers, but also their students’ bodies. Höber serves as one example of how female doctors engaged in elaborating these biopolitical discourses. She criticized the lack of female doctors available for school girls in Kiel, noting the demands for women to treat adolescent girls during their annual school medical exams. She also recommended recording the exam results in a health book that would accompany a child throughout her lifetime. The tracking of students’ individual medical histories in this health book could then, in Höber’s opinion, be used to determine who should and [End Page 50] should not receive birth control. Through the compulsory recording of students’ health conditions, she sought to prevent “never-ending misery” and maintain “the most desirable assets of people.”61 Höber hoped that encouraging the working classes to participate in a statewide birth control program, especially if they demonstrated a tainted family history, would counteract the mass distribution of birth control among the middle and upper classes. Using class structure or a history of disease as a qualifier for handing out birth control was a means to achieving this end. Through such proposals, Höber rationalized a plan of action through biopolitics and showed her disapproval of the current system in which birth control was distributed unscientifically and generally only to the educated, well-off classes. She presented herself as helping both her working-class students, who likely lacked access to birth control, and society at large, which would become burdened with supporting the growing working-class population. By suggesting that birth control be offered to students, Höber attempted to control women’s bodies in the name of the collective body and fashioned a way to expand her own duties as a school doctor. Höber’s motivations, then, can be connected to a class-biased eugenics ideology, what she perceived to be the practical needs of her students, and her own desire for improved status in the medical profession.

It is clear from this example that birth control was among the topics women doctors discussed (or at least suggested discussing) with their students—a heavily debated matter in the Weimar period, especially because of eugenicists’ overwhelming fears that “inferior” working-class individuals reproduced at a much faster rate than Germany’s “superior” middle- and upper-class individuals, thus weakening the nation overall. Historians have examined the blending of eugenic and social welfare-based health and family policies produced during the Weimar era. They have also looked at how biopolitically informed welfare discourses in interwar Germany combined eugenics, national rebuilding, and working-class welfare initiatives in a unique, seamless fashion.62 The Weimar Republic, following on the heels of a devastating war, centered its health agenda on rebuilding the nation, as it promoted vigorous, lasting marriages and healthy young girls among the most “fit” segments of the population.63 Rationalized through biopolitcs, this meant preparing girls to be “fit” mothers from a young age and educating them about proper hygiene through school physical education. This is perhaps also why middle- and upper-class doctors admonished working-class mothers for the lack of attention to their children’s health. Women physicians’ concerns about rebuilding and improving the national body clearly led them to make assumptions about which types of physical exercise best served women and to find it acceptable to advise [End Page 51] mothers about how to take care of their school children in the 1925 school brochure discussed above.64 Through writing this instructional pamphlet and holding workshops for mothers about proper childcare, they moved their work from the schoolhouses into the home.65 Relocating female physicians’ work in the home demonstrates how biopolitics produced “new degrees of freedom—new levers that increased people’s power to move their own worlds, to shape their own lives.”66 While liberating for women doctors, this had the potential to demean their students and their students’ mothers, especially because of the clear class divide between doctors and vocational school students. At the same time, by seeking scientific solutions to mothering, doctors believed they were doing what was in their students’ best interests. This type of radical intervention in their students’ lives meant they offered much more than routine medical exams and advice about physical exercise. Instead, they presented themselves as forging the fields of women’s physical and sex education. The professional identities they created proved to be a careful balancing act between their class biases, sympathies, opportunism, and activism.

In numerous essays advocating equal physical education curriculum for young girls, women doctors fashioned a professional identity as physician-activists committed to educational reform. Their demands for the employment of women doctors in vocational schools demonstrate their concerns that girls have access to doctors who they thought would make them feel comfortable. Their writings were also a veiled critique of the systematic discrimination against girls’ physical education and of their male colleagues predominately employed in these schools. Alice Profé, who worked at a Berlin girl’s vocational school and made health education for adolescent girls her life’s work, pushed for the equalization of funding in sports.67 Other doctors advocated the issue of equal gym time for boys and girls. Vocational schools in Görlitz, for instance, required a gym hour for boys, but lacked the funds to offer the same course for girls.68 While not many girls participated in physical exercise in vocational schools, this was certainly not for their lack of desire.69 Instead, female physicians thought most girls lacked the time, opportunities, and funds needed to participate in sports and pushed for their equal access to all three.

In their discourse, female physicians advocated modifying gym curricula in schools, thus offering female students an equal yet different health curriculum catered to women’s bodies and abilities. In this regard, they were no different than their counterparts working in women’s physical education in other western countries.70 Because the female body experienced different changes than a male body during puberty, Heusler-Edenhuizen and Clara Bender, a school doctor and practicing physician in Breslau, thought female [End Page 52] physical education should include exercises for strengthening the back, as well as running games and swimming to bolster the torso muscles. They considered it important to incorporate breathing techniques into the curriculum because the heart and lungs were often not developed enough to keep pace with the demands of such precipitous body growth.71 The strengthening of back, stomach, and chest muscles in women was not only important for supporting the pubescent maturation of their bodies, but it was also vital, according to Heusler-Edenhuizen, to make a woman stronger for “her specific reproductive activity, pregnancy and childbirth.” Because a pregnant woman required strong stomach muscles to restrain the forward-falling child and to push during childbirth, strong back muscles to counterbalance her baby weight, and strong chest muscles to replace breathing from her stomach with that of the chest, Heusler-Edenhuizen called for these areas to be the focus of physical education programs.72 Tailoring gym exercises to fit the new build of girls’ bodies during adolescence and to prepare them for pregnancy was one way in which female physicians claimed they could redesign current school physical education programs. The construction and disciplining of female bodies for childbirth furthermore could be justified through concerns about Germany’s future.73

Women physicians also wanted to accommodate girls’ menstrual cycles in their reconsiderations of physical education curriculum. They perceived that menstruation was an embarrassing issue for adolescent girls, and therefore, underscored that it was a normal, physical process that every girl underwent.74 It was for this reason that Heusler-Edenhuizen believed there was no excuse for healthy women not to carry on with their normal work and physical activities during menstruation. Schoolgirls should be exempt from jumping exercises, but in general, they could participate in most other sports and gym drills. Physical activity benefitted girls’ health because it stimulated blood flow; Heusler-Edenhuizen thus supported restrained exercise during menstruation.75 Based on her experience as a school doctor in Breslau, Bender agreed that swimming, riding, jumping, and all vibration of the body should be forbidden during menstruation, but she viewed moderate physical movement as harmless, and in fact, beneficial for blood loss or physical ailments.76 Heusler-Edenhuizen helped convince young girls, who were timid about bathing during menstruation, that hygiene was still important, and even more essential during this time because of the higher risk of infection. How much to expect of a healthy girl during her period, however, really depended on her and how ill or indisposed she was—a designation that, unfortunately, most adolescent girls came to believe while they were menstruating. Heusler-Edenuhuizen claimed that having a female doctor on hand to ease a girl’s embarrassment when asking [End Page 53] for an excuse from gym class, to empathize with her feelings, or to give explanations, in the way that only a mother could, really consoled a young girl during this time of crisis in her life. Such a special mother-daughter bond between doctors and their students moreover counteracted the tension between parents and their children at this age.77 Heusler-Edenhuizen highlighted her maternal abilities to empathize and provide comfort, even suggesting her relationship with her students could supplant the familial bond. In addition to portraying themselves as quite valuable in guiding young girls in matters of physical exercise during menstruation, female doctors’ maternal concerns may have coupled with their medical bona fides to motivate them to intervene in girls’ physical education and to chastise their students’ mothers.

In their discourse about schools, female physicians continuously tackled the question of whether girls should participate in gym or sports activities while menstruating, indicating that they thought school health curriculum should include this “feminine matter.” The women’s physical education curricula that female doctors proposed already included specific exercises to fit women’s bodies, and it now focused on how the natural bodily cycles of women might affect their physical abilities. This new curriculum concentrated on restricting and extending what was acceptable for the female body; the core of it was about control. The curricula and the concepts behind it were novel; physicians and schools previously overlooked a separate physical education program for girls, especially one that considered their needs. In the past, pedagogues and doctors believed that women could be physically and mentally educated in similar ways to men, albeit in a weaker form based on their weaker compositions.78 Female physicians asserted responsibility for this new curriculum, showing their gendered contribution to physical education and their expanded possibilities within the medical profession. They practiced biopolitics on their own terms as they sought to define what girls’ physical education entailed and determined the outcomes this had for their own professional prospects and for their students’ lives. In their efforts to influence and adjust the content of women’s health curriculum, they claimed to broaden the role of the female school doctor, who would become an educational activist for a new type of public health—one that aimed to bring their perceptions of women’s concerns (like reproduction and menstruation) to the forefront.


Female physicians worked in schools for the same reasons that they were employed in other fields of Weimar public health and social welfare: [End Page 54] these positions were some of the only jobs they could procure in the face of an overcrowded, male dominated, and unreceptive medical profession. Female physicians made the most of their marginalization, however. These positions offered them the flexibility to balance their domestic and professional lives as working mothers and allowed them to work primarily with women and children—something that both they and their male colleagues saw as suitable—thus enabling them to carve out and solidify a professional domain. They also claimed an ability to make unique contributions to women’s health. They could support their female students as they confronted menstruation, insisting that young girls with these embarrassing adolescent concerns would be more eager to turn to female school doctors because they offered both a scientific and personal approach. Women doctors, they argued, could develop trustworthy, maternal, and nurturing relationships with students, providing them advice on a wide breadth of issues and a source of solace during an uncomfortable time. Some of these doctors like Szagunn later reflected and synthesized their maternal and professional roles, proclaiming a significant non-medical influence over their students.79 Female physicians made marriage, motherhood, and women’s domestic lifestyles the foci of their new health rhetoric—an approach that allowed them to convey their experiences as mothers in their professional lives and one that afforded them entrance into medicine. They were living through a time in which they faced considerable discrimination in the medical field, and therefore, etched out a separate space for themselves within the profession by creating a new domain within school healthcare that they could claim as their own, as they assumed they knew which types of physical exercise best served women. While they generally followed the direction that male doctors channeled them into, they buttressed their roles as doctors through discourse.

Female medical practitioners also presented themselves as educational activists because they demanded separate yet equal physical education attention, funding, facilities, and curricula for girls in German vocational schools. They refused to have their students treated like second-class children in matters of health simply because their bodies were different. Rather, they argued that their dissimilar bodies merited a unique gym program for girls—one that was more important than boys’ because of the increased risks girls faced in adolescence and because of the crucial role women held as the mothers of Germany’s future generation. In other words, female physicians demanded educational equality for girls precisely because the nation needed healthy mothers after the losses suffered during World War I. These doctors placed their arguments in the context of German national interests, as they portrayed themselves as devotees to advancing the objectives [End Page 55] of Weimar youth welfare—now an issue of national concern. Dr. Heusler-Edenhuizen, for one, largely blamed World War I for the postwar deterioration of Germany’s youth and thought the issue of youth welfare merited national attention.80 “Health and fitness movements proliferated in Weimar Germany,” according to the historian Erik Jensen, and building girls’ physical education became an arena for women physicians to overhaul both the national body and individual bodies.81 The biopolitical nature of their work had complex effects. On the one hand, women doctors presented themselves as displaying authentic maternal concern for female students, arguing for their educational equality at a time when youth health was also in the interest of the nation. On the other hand, this was mixed with rhetoric about what was best for women and their bodies, as well as social interventions into their students’ lives, because it was deemed best for the national body.

Charting the narrative of female physicians also means recognizing that while they overcame discrimination in the medical field, they often did so at the expense of lower-class women. Female physicians issued advice to working-class students and working-class mothers based on their own middle-class values, and offered practical aid and advice to the less fortunate during times of financial need. For these women, class alongside gender became crucial categories for understanding their position vis-à-vis others in Weimar society.82 They took the path of least resistance by rarely entering conversations about male physical education, unless it was in relation or comparison to female physical education.83 Adopting a physical education curriculum that revolved around women’s traditional roles as mothers and housewives was a means for them to avoid drawing further attention to their threatening presence in medicine. This was a way for them to portray themselves as experts in a new field of women’s health because they could use their own domestic knowledge and experience in their classrooms. By regulating girls’ bodies and their physical education program, women doctors demonstrate one example of how biopolitics became “a multifaceted world of discourse and practice” in the Weimar era as they pushed the limits of school healthcare.84 By raising awareness and expanding the boundaries of what women’s health entailed (and where it could be practiced), female doctors founded a space for themselves in medicine.

Melissa Kravetz

MELISSA KRAVETZ is an assistant professor of history at Longwood University, where she teaches courses in European history and women’s and gender history. Her research interests include Weimar and Nazi Germany, the professionalization of women in science and medicine, eugenics, and women’s and children’s health. Her book manuscript, Molding Women’s and Children’s Medicine: Female Doctors in Weimar and Nazi Germany, is currently under contract with the University of Toronto Press.


1. The Law Governing the Legal Status of Female Civil Servants and Public Officials passed in 1932, stating that women who were second wage earners could be dismissed from public service. See Detlev J. K. Peukert, The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity, trans. Richard Deveson (New York: Hill and Wang, [End Page 56] 1992), 97; Isle Szagunn, “Vita von Ilse Szagunn. Ein Lebensbild in der Zeit,” Berliner Medizin 12, no. 11 (1961): 260–6, quotation on 261–2.

2. Szagunn, “Vita von Ilse Szagunn,” 262.

3. Ibid., 263.

4. Seth Koven and Sonya Michel define “maternalist discourses” as “ideologies and discourses that exalted women’s capacity to mother and applied to society as a whole the values they attached to that role: care, nurturance, and morality.” See Koven and Michel, eds., Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (New York: Routledge, 1993), 4.

5. Ann Taylor Allen, Feminism and Motherhood in Germany, 1800–1914 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1991); and Patricia M. Mazón, Gender and the Modern Research University: The Admission of Women to German Higher Education, 1865–1914 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003).

6. Young-Sun Hong, Welfare, Modernity, and the Weimar State, 1919–1933 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 5; and Peukert, The Weimar Republic, 130–1.

7. Edward Ross Dickinson, “Biopolitics, Facism, Democracy,” Central European History 37, no. 1 (2004): 1–48, quotation on 3; Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction (New York: Vintage Books, 1990).

8. Dickinson, “Biopolitics, Fascism, Democracy,” 44.

9. Ibid., 45.

10. On physical education discourse throughout Europe and the US, see Susan Grant, Physical Culture and Sport in Soviet Society: Propaganda Acculturation and Transformation in the 1920s and 1930s (New York: Routledge, 2013); J. A. Mangan and Roberta J. Park, eds., From “Fair Sex” to Feminism: Sport and the Socialization of Women in the Industrial and Post-Industrial Eras (London, UK: Frank Cass, 1987); Peter C. McIntosh, Physical Education in England Since 1800 (London, UK: G. Bell and Sons, 1968); and Heinrik Meinander, Towards a Bourgeois Manhood: Boys’ Physical Education in Nordic Secondary Schools, 1880–1940 (Helsinki: Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, 1994).

11. Peukert, The Weimar Republic, 89–90.

12. Richard Bessel, Germany After the First World War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 252.

13. David Crew, Germans on Welfare: From Weimar to Hitler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Elizabeth Harvey, Youth and the Welfare State in Weimar Germany (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1993); Hong, Welfare; Peukert, The Weimar Republic; and Eric D. Weitz, Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).

14. Peukert, The Weimar Republic, 130–1.

15. Harvey, Youth and the Welfare State, 7–8. [End Page 57]

16. Koven and Michel, Mothers of a New World, 8.

17. Harvey, Youth and the Welfare State, 165. The full description of Articles 120 and 122 of the Weimar Constitution can be found in “Die Verfassung des Deutschen Reichs,” 11 August 1919, Reichsgesetzblatt (1919), ii., 1383–418, 1406.

18. Ibid., 167–8.

19. Ibid., 171–2.

20. Ibid., 173.

21. Marjorie Lamberti, The Politics of Education: Teachers and School Reform in Weimar Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002), 1. Peukert agrees that the Weimar years were a time of great educational reform. See Peukert, The Weimar Republic, 142–3.

22. Lamberti, The Politics of Education, 7.

23. Mazón, Gender and the Modern Research University; Michael H. Kater, “Professionalization and Socialization of Physicians in Wilhelmine and Weimar Germany,” Journal of Contemporary History 20, no. 4 (1985): 677–701, quotation on 686–7.

24. “Berufszählung: Die berufliche und soziale Gliederung des deutschen Volkes. Textliche Darstellung der Ergebnisse,” in Statistik des Deutschen Reichs 408 (1925) (Berlin: Reimar Hobbing, 1931): 301–4; “Berufszählung: Die berufliche und soziale Gliederung der Bevölkerung des Deutschen Reichs. Die Erwerbstätigkeit der Reichsbevölkerung,” in Statistik des Deutschen Reich 453, no. 2 (Berlin: Verlag für Sozialpolitik, Wirtschaft und Statistik, Paul Smidt, 1936): 192; “Die Berufstätigkeit der Bevölkerung des Deutsche Reichs. Die Reichsbevölkerung nach Haupt- und Nebenberuf,” in Statistik des Deutschen Reichs 556, no. 1 (Berlin: Verlag für Sozialpolitik, Wirtschaft und Statistik, Paul Smidt, 1942): 162.

25. Cornelie Usborne, “Women Doctors and Gender Identity in Weimar Germany (1918–1933),” in Women and Modern Medicine, ed. Lawrence Conrad and Anne Hardy (New York: Editions Rodopi, 2001), 109–26, quotation on 112.

26. Jill Stephenson, “Women and the Professions in Germany, 1900–1945,” in German Professions, 1800–1950, ed. Geoffrey Cocks and Konrad H. Jarausch (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 270–88, quotation on 275–6.

27. Usborne, “Women Doctors,” 109.

28. In March 1917, women outnumbered men at work for the first time. See Renate Bridenthal, “Beyond Kinder, Küche, Kirche: Weimar Women at Work,” Central European History 6, no. 2 (1973): 148–66, quotation on 155.

29. “Warnung vor dem ärztlichem Studium,” Deutsche Tageszeitung, April 9, 1925, in Bundesarchiv-Berlin (hereafter BArch), NS/VI.7089.

30. See, for example, Dr. med. Max Grünewald, “Die Frau als Ärztin,” Frau und Gegenwart, September 4, 1928, in BArch, NS/VI.7089. [End Page 58]

31. Dr. med. Lucie Adelsberger, “Die Frau als Ärztin”, in Die Kultur der Frau. Eine Lebenssymphonie der Frau des XX. Jahrhunderts, ed. Ada Schmidt-Beil (Berlin: Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft, 1931), 198–205, quotation on 200.

32. “Zahl und Familienstand der Ärztinnen,” Die Ärztin 11, no. 9 (1935): 147–52, quotation on 150.

33. In Gender and the Modern Research University, Maźon shows that the idea that women should only treat women and children dates back to nineteenth-century demands for women to enter the university under the rubric of Frauenstudium (women’s studies), which primarily included the professions of medicine and teaching.

34. See, for example, Soziale Praxis 20, no. 19 (1911) and Dr. Agnes Bluhm, “Weibliche Jugendpflege und Volksgesundheit” (Zentralstelle für Volkswohlfahrt, Abteilung IV, 1913), in BArch, R 86/5671.

35. McIntosh, Physical Education in England, 216; and Catherine Manthorpe, “Science or Domestic Science? The Struggle to Define an Appropriate Science Education for Girls in Early Twentieth-Century England,” History of Education 15, no. 3 (1986): 195–213, quotation on 196.

36. The Munich Physician’s Organization, for example, wanted to expand the medical supervision of youth to all higher schools. See Dr. Eugen Doernberger, “Hebung der Volkskraft durch Kräftigung unserer Jugend,” Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift 64, no. 1 (1917): 10–11, in BArch, R 86/5675.

37. Harvey, Youth and the Welfare State, 62–64, 78–80.

38. Ibid., 82–83.

39. Ibid, 81.

40. Dr. Anne-Marie Durand-Wever served on the Committee for the Physical Education of Women for both the BDÄ and the BDF, and, in fact, the BDÄ chose her for this committee because of her analogous work in the BDF. See Landesarchiv Berlin (LAB hereafter) B Rep.235–01, MF 2158–2168.

41. Dr. Erna Corte, “Erste öffentliche Tagung für die körperliche Erziehung der Frau,” Nachrichtenblatt 5, no. 4 (1925): 25–27, in LAB B Rep.235–01, MF 3136–3143.

42. Ibid., quotation on 25.

43. Invitation in LAB B Rep.235–01, MF 3136–3143, quotation on MF 3136.

44. See correspondence, conference minutes, and subsequent publication in Ibid.

45. Bertha Sachs, “Die körperliche Erziehung der Frau vom ärztlichen Standpunkt” and Hermine Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Erfahrungen und Wünsche einer Frauenärztin,” in Die körperliche Ertüchtigung der Frau. Neun Vorträge gehalten auf der Ersten öffentlichen Tagung für die körperliche Ertüchtigung der Frau (Berlin: F. A. Herbig Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1925), 15–29, in LAB B Rep.235–01, MF 3136–3143. [End Page 59]

46. Laura Turnau, “Frauensport und Sportärztin,” Vierteljahrsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 1, no. 5 (1925): 146; and Dr. Gertrud Heckler, “Körperkultur der berufstätigen Frau,” Vierteljahrsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 2, no. 4 (1926): 106–8. For more on the increasing involvement of women in sports during the Weimar period, see Erik N. Jensen, Body by Weimar: Athletes, Gender, and German Modernity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).

47. Hermine Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die körperliche Erziehung der Frau vom ärztlichen Standpunkt” (Vortrag für die erste Magdeburger Fauenwoche, March 4, 1926), 9, in LAB E Rep. 300–52, Bd. 2, uncatalogued, copy, original collection in Niedersächsisches Landesarchiv (NLA)-Staatsarchiv Aurich, Rep. 220/30.

48. Dr. Paula Heyman, “Schularzt oder Schulärztin in den höheren Schulen?” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 4, no. 5 (1928): 84–85, quotation on 84.

49. Dr. Susanne Altstaedt, “Hygienische Volksaufklärung. Ueber sexuelle Aufklärung in der Berufsschule,” Vierteljahrsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 2, no. 3 (1926): 71–72, quotation on 71.

50. Hermine Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die sexuelle Not unserer Jugend,” Die Frau 35, no. 10 (1928): 605–11, quotation on 606.

51. Dr. Edith von Lölhöffel, “Körpererziehung in der Familie,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 5, no. 8 (1929): 157–8. Other lectures by von Lölhöffel included “Housewife Diseases and their Prevention,” “Importance and Technique of Air and Sun Baths,” and “First Aid in the Nursery.” Alice Profé gave a lecture entitled “Physical Exercise for School Aged Children.” Two other Berlin women physicians, Elisabeth Hoffa and Hedwig Bergmann, gave lectures on “Puberty” and “Physical Exercise and Motherhood,” respectively.

52. Foucault has argued this in his Collège de France lectures. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978–1979, ed. Michel Senellart, trans. Graham Burchell (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

53. “Ein Schulmerkblatt,” Vierteljahrsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 1, no. 5 (1925): 141–3.

54. Atina Grossmann, “The New Woman and the Rationalization of Sexuality in Weimar Germany,” in Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality, ed. Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell, and Sharon Thompson (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1983), 153–75, quotation on 165.

55. Dr. Ilse Szagunn, “Probleme der schulärztlichen Versorgung der Berufsschulen,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 5, no. 5 (1929): 90–92, quotation on 90–91.

56. Ibid.

57. Dr. med. Josephine Höber, “Aufgaben der Schulärztin einst, jetzt, und in Zukunft,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 5, no. 4 (1929): 63–65, quotation on 64.

58. Dr. Käte Gaebel, “Schulärzte für die Berufsschulen,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 4, no. 7 (1928): 119–23, quotation on 122. Szagunn provides further evidence [End Page 60] that female students preferred a female doctor. See Szagunn, “Untersuchung und Behandlung von Studentinnen durch Ärztinnen,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 6, no. 3 (1930): 53–56.

59. Höber, “Aufgaben,” 64.

60. Atina Grossmann, Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Michelle Mouton, From Nurturing the Nation to Purifying the Volk: Weimar and Nazi Family Policy, 1918–1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Cornelie Usborne, Cultures of Abortion in Weimar Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007); Cornelie Usborne, The Politics of the Body in Weimar Germany: Women’s Reproductive Rights and Duties (London: Macmillan Press, 1992); and Kristine von Soden, Sexualberatungsstellen der Weimarer Republik, 1919–1933 (Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1988).

61. Höber, “Aufgaben,” 63–65.

62. Grossmann, Reforming Sex; Mouton, From Nurturing the Nation; Usborne, Cultures of Abortion; Usborne, The Politics of the Body; and Paul Weindling, Health, Race and German Politics Between National Unification and Nazism, 1870–1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

63. For more on how physical activity became linked to German national identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, see Svenja Goltermann, Körper der Nation:Habitusformierung und die Politik des Turnens: 1860–1890 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1998).

64. “Ein Schulmerkblatt,” 141–3.

65. See von Lölhöffel, “Körpererziehung,” 157–8.

66. Dickinson, “Biopolitics,” 43.

67. Alice Profé, “Mädchen—Kinder zweiter Klasse? [1912],” in Frau und Sport, ed. Gertrud Pfister (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1980), 105–9.

68. Dr. E. Michaelsen, “Leibesübungen in den Berufsschulen,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 5, no. 5 (1929): 92–93, quotation on 92.

69. Between 45 and 50 percent of female students in Görlitz vocational schools vocalized their desire for physical education. See Ibid.

70. See Martha H. Verbrugge, Active Bodies: A History of Women’s Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

71. Dr. med. Clara Bender, “Aerztliches über weibliche Gymnastik und Körperkultur,” Vierteljahrsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 2, no. 4 (1926): 100–5, quotation on 101; and Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die körperliche Erziehung der Frau” 10–11.

72. Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die körperliche Erziehung der Frau,” 17.

73. For more on the discipline of female bodies prior to World War II, see Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Managing the Body: Beauty, Health, and Fitness in Britain, 1880–1939 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). [End Page 61]

74. On the history of menstruation, see Cathy McClive, Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2015); and Sara Read, Menstruation and the Female Body in Early-Modern England (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

75. Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die körperliche Erziehung der Frau,” 13–14.

76. Bender, “Aerztliches,” 101.

77. Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die körperliche Erziehung der Frau,” 15.

78. Bender, “Aerztliches,” 100.

79. Szagunn, “Vita,” 261–3.

80. Heusler-Edenhuizen, “Die sexuelle Not.”

81. Jensen, Body by Weimar, 6.

82. Benjamin Ziemann highlights gender and class as important, relational analytical categories of Germany in the 1920s. See Ziemann, “Weimar was Weimar: Politics, Culture, and the Emplotment of the German Republic,” German History 28, no. 4 (2010): 542–71.

83. The only notable exceptions in Die Ärztin were articles about the general problems of physical education and medical care in the schools. Males, however, wrote these articles, which focused on male and female physical education. See Theobald Fürst, “Probleme der schulärztlichen Versorgung der Berufsschulen,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 5, no. 8 (1929): 154–6 and Prof. Dr. Eugen Matthias, “Aufgaben und Probleme der Körpererziehung in der Schule,” Monatsschrift deutscher Ärztinnen 5, no. 9 (1929): 170–6.

84. Dickinson, “Biopolitics,” 42. [End Page 62]