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Grete Henry-Hermann (b. 2 March 1901 in Bremen; d.15 April 1984 in Bremen)

Politically Minded Scientist
Physicist and Philosopher at Eye Level with the Greats

 


Film-Aufnahme und Schnitt: Monika B. Beyer

 

After the war, Dr Grete Henry-Hermann was active in establishing a democratic school system in the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, and had an impact on the German Federal Republic’s educational landscape. The lifework of this professor of mathematics, philosophy and physics left its mark on science, education and politics.


In 1921, Grete Hermann went to Göttingen to study mathematics, physics and philosophy; her years of study coincided with the transformation to modern mathematics and quantum physics. In 1925 she earned her doctorate under Emmy Noether, turned to philosophy and – in 1926 – became private assistant to the philosopher Leonard Nelson.
   
From 1932 onwards she worked as an editor of the daily newspaper of the “International Socialist Militant League” (ISK), Der Funke, and gave philosophy courses encouraging resistance against the Hitler regime. In 1938, threatened with arrest, she went into exile in London.

In 1946, Dr Grete Henry-Hermann returned to her native city, which lay in ruins. She wanted to help build a liberal, democratic Germany by becoming active in teacher education. She began as senior teacher of the “Pädagogisches Seminar” in Vegesacker Strasse and in 1947 took direction of the newly founded “Pädagogische Hochschule”, initially in a commissarial capacity. She worked there as a professor until her retirement in 1966.

From 1946 onwards, Dr Grete Henry-Hermann was a member of the Social Democratic party and involved in the establishment of the “Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft” (GEW; Education and Science Workers’ Union). As a member of the committee on the education system and Social Democratic committees for preparation of the Godesberg Programme, she had an impact on the development of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Friederike Kersting