Wolff, Jeanette

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WOLFF, JEANETTE (1888–1976), prominent German Jewish Socialist. Born in Bocholt, Westphalia, she qualified as a nurse, later became an educationist and, after moving to Belgium, joined the Socialist Party and became active in the Labor Youth Movement. She returned to Germany in 1910 where she continued her political activity, and after her marriage took an increasing interest in Jewish activities, joining the German Jewish Women's Organization, which she represented on the Council of the Red Cross during World War i. After the war she became a prominent member of, and public speaker for, the Society of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith. As a result of her fearless denunciation of Nazism, she was placed under protective custody when the Nazis came to power and, although released in 1935, was continually harassed by the Gestapo and was eventually deported to the Riga ghetto and other camps. Returning to Berlin in 1946 she rejoined the Socialist Party, was elected a deputy to the West Berlin House of Representatives, and from 1952 to 1961 was a member of the Bundestag. Wolff continued her Jewish activities. She was co-chairman of the Union of German Jewish Women, vice chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, and chairman of the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation.

She was awarded the Great Service Cross of the German Order of Merit of the West German Government and the Leo Baeck Prize of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in 1975.

Wolff wrote Sadism as Lunacy on her experiences in the concentration camps, in which she attempted to analyze objectively the reasons for Nazi barbarity. Her autobiography Mit Bibel und Bebel remained in fragments and was published in 1980.

add. bibliography:

W. Albrecht, "Jeanette Wolff – Jakob Altmaier – Peter Bachstein. Die drei Abgeordneten jüdischer Herkunft des Deutschen Bundestages in den 50er und zu Beginn der 60er Jahre," in: J. Schoeps (et al), Menora. Jahrbuch fuer deutsch-juedische Geschichte 1995 (1995), 267–99; G. Lange, Jeanette Wolff. 18881876. Eine Biographie (1988); C. Moss, "Verfolgung und Vernichtung in juedischen Selbstzeugnissen: Jeanette Wolff und Marga Spiegel," in. J.-P. Barbian, M. Brocke, L. Heid (eds.), Juden im Ruhrgebiet. Vom Zeitalter der Aufklaerung bis in die Gegenwart (1999); B. Seemann, Jeanette Wolff. Politikerin und engagierte Demokratin (18881976) (2000).