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Hermine Berthold, née Brühning

(b. 22 March 1896 in Bremen; d. 2 June 1990 in Bremen)

Although Hermine Berthold shunned publicity, she was politically active throughout her life. From the time she was a teenager, she championed the cause of her class, especially that of working-class women, whose suffering she was personally acquainted with. During the fascist era, she even risked her life for them.

Hermine Auguste Berthold, née Brühning, was born in Hastedt on 22 March 1896 and grew up in a working-class family. After completing primary school she worked as a maid, then as an unskilled worker in a burlap spinning and weaving plant. When she was twenty-two she married a dockworker with whom she had three children.

Hermine was a member of the “Sozialistische Arbeiterjugend” (Socialist Workers Youth Party), was active in the textile union and the retail cooperative, and joined the USPD (Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany) in 1918 and the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) in 1922. In 1930 she became an SPD member of the Bremen parliament.

In 1934 she was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison on charges of preparing for political high treason. Beginning in May 1945 she was involved in the “Kampfgemeinschaft gegen den Faschismus” (association for combating fascism). From 1946 onwards she once again occupied a seat in the Bremen parliament, where she was particularly active in committees on nutrition and health. She died on 2 June 1990 in a retirement home in Bremen.

Romina Schmitter