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Mathilde Rupperti, formerly Haupt, née Richters

(b. 24 October 1895 in Lehe; d. 13 November 1986 in Bremerhaven)

Mathilde Rupperti’s life was shaped to a decisive degree by her untiring dedication to helping people in need. An avid Social Democrat from a politically active working-class family, she became involved in the resistance movement against the Nazi regime and dauntlessly condemned injustice – often at great risk to life and limb.

Mathilde Richters was born in Lehe on 24 October 1895 and grew up in a working-class family. At the age of fourteen she went to work in Bremerhaven as a maid and ironer. In 1919 she married the Social Democrat and labour unionist Anton Haupt. She joined the German Social Democratic party (SPD) and became active in the “Arbeiterhilfe” (workers’ aid). This was the organization from which the “Arbeiterwohlfahrt” (AWO; Workers’ Welfare Association) later emerged, with Mathilde Rupperti as one of its founding members in the seaside town.

When the SPD and the AWO were banned by the National Socialists, she and her family continued their involvement in social projects in the underground. Among other undertakings, they smuggled anti-Hitler-regime leaflets out of the harbour, covered up Nazi party posters with them in clandestine nocturnal posting campaigns, and risked arrest in conjunction with house searches by Nazi henchmen.

After the war, Mathilde Rupperti once again took up her activities in the newly refounded AWO, serving on its managing committee for fifteen years. She worked until her death in the sewing workshop and second-hand clothing distribution centre she herself had founded. “Tilly” died on 13 November 1986. Shortly afterwards, the AWO named a residential facility for the elderly in Stresemannstrasse in Bremerhaven – the “Mathilde-Rupperti-Haus” – after its founding member.

Martina Löwner