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Josepha Erling, née Berentzen

(b. 16 December 1861 in Haselünne; d. 13 November 1948 in Bremen)

Josepha Erling was the founder of the Bremen chapter of the “Katholischer Fürsorgeverein für Mädchen, Frauen und Kinder” (Catholic welfare association for girls, women and children), which – now called the “Sozialdienst katholischer Frauen” (Catholic Women’s Welfare Service) – today operates kindergartens while continuing its work of caring for young single mothers.

Josepha Erling was born in Haselünne, daughter to the owner of the I. B. Berentzen distillery still in existence today. After her father’s death, Josepha managed the company until her marriage to Carl Erling. The latter had taken over several mills – among them the Herdentor Mill in the Bremen Wallanlage Park – from his grandfather. The couple had two sons and six daughters and lived in a big house in Osterdeich 59.

In the context of her involvement with the church, Josepha was confronted with the hardship suffered by single women. This was the target group of the “Katholischer Fürsorgeverein für Mädchen, Frauen und Kinder” founded by Agnes Neuhaus in Dortmund in 1899. On Josepha’s initiative, a chapter of this organization was established in Bremen; its meetings were held in the Erling residence. The members of the association helped women by visiting them in their homes, in hospitals and in prisons, as well as by cultivating contacts with the authorities.

Edith Laudowicz