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Ottilie Hoffmann (b. 14 July 1835 in Bremen; d. 20 December 1925 in Bremen)

Battling Alcohol Abuse with Milk and Coffee
Founder of the German Abstinence Movement

Film-Aufnahme und Schnitt: Monika B. Beyer


Ottilie Hoffmann was an active advocate of women’s rights. She campaigned for middle-class women’s right to participation in society. The cause to which she dedicated her life was the struggle against alcohol abuse. By founding a moderation and abstinence movement in the German Empire, she brought about lasting changes in drinking customs.

In 1867, Ottilie Hoffmann and the writer Marie Mindermann founded the “association for the expansion of women’s occupational scope”, later renamed the “Bremen association for women’s employment and vocational training”. It belonged to the “Bund Deutscher Frauenvereine” which – co-founded by Ottilie Hoffmann in 1894 – served as the umbrella organization of the middle-class women’s movement.

From 1891 onwards, under Ottilie Hoffmann’s direction, a number of eateries offering only non-alcoholic beverages were opened in working-class, factory and harbour districts and other neighbourhoods in Bremen. These establishments also functioned as centres of adult education, comprising reading rooms as well as resting and breastfeeding rooms. Hoffmann’s aim was to protect the poorer classes from alcohol consumption, accidents, unemployment, poverty and domestic violence.
In 1900, the sixty-five-year-old Ottilie Hoffman founded the German “league of abstinent women”. To this day, now under the name “German women’s league for an alcohol-free culture”, the association advocates a new drinking culture and carries out public education programmes on the safe consumption of alcohol. Ottilie Hoffmann gained worldwide recognition for her activities. Emperor Wilhelm II awarded her the Silver Cross of Merit for Women, and Empress Auguste Viktoria honoured her struggle against alcoholism in an audience granted in 1903.