Ausstellung vom 3. bis 15. Juli 2011 in der Unteren Rathaushalle, Bremen

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Bardenheuer, Maria Elisabeth Hermine, called Rita, née Hoffmeister

(b. 5 June 1877 in Bremen; d. 15 February 1943 in Bremen)

Rita Bardenheuer was a co-founder of the “Bund für Mutterschutz und Sexualreform” (association for maternity protection and sexual reform). She consistently supported the cause of universal, equal and secret suffrage.

Growing up in the Bremen Neustadt, she attended the “Höhere Mädchenschule” (secondary school for girls), and then A. M. Janson’s teacher training college. After her marriage and the birth of her three children she stopped working as a teacher and joined the “Verein für Frauenstimmrecht” (women’s suffrage association).

In 1919, Rita Bardenheuer joined the Social Democratic Party and was elected to the provisional Bremen National Assembly – Bremen’s first democratically elected parliament – where she served as secretary. Despite her extensive party-political work, in 1919 she joined the Bremen chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and was its deputy chairwoman until 1925.

In 1921 she relinquished her seat in parliament on account of inner-party disputes and concentrated instead on her work in the women’s freedom and maternity protection movements. In 1922 she left the Social Democratic Party altogether since her membership was causing her husband increasing professional difficulties. When the National Socialists took power, Rita Bardenheuer withdrew from public life. She died of a stroke at the age of just sixty-six.

Edith Laudowicz