Bollmann, Minna (1876–1935)

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Bollmann, Minna (1876–1935)

German Social Democratic Reichstag and Landtag deputy who ardently represented her working-class constituents throughout the troubled history of the Weimar Republic. Born Minna Zacharias on January 31, 1876, in Halberstadt, Saxony, Germany; committed suicide in Halberstadt on December 9, 1935; married; children: Otto Bollmann (d. 1951).

A politically militant working-class woman, Minna Zacharias Bollmann gave much of her life to political struggle. Born into poverty in Halberstadt in the Harz mountain district of Saxony on January 31, 1876, she was drawn from her earliest years to the egalitarian ideals of the Social Democratic movement. By the time the German monarchy collapsed in November 1918, and women received the right to vote and sit in representative assemblies, she was well known to her fellow socialists, and the party leadership selected her to run for the Reichstag in January 1919. Winning the seat to represent the Magdeburg-Anhalt electoral district, she served until June 1920. Bollmann then ran successfully on the Social Democratic ticket for a seat in the Prussian Landtag (Provincial Assembly), serving from 1921 until 1933.

The onset of the Nazi dictatorship in 1933 led to the outlawing of the Social Democratic movement in Germany, and Bollmann lost her seat in the Prussian Landtag along with all of the other deputies. She made no attempts to accommodate to the new regime, and the people of Halberstadt knew that alongside the radical changes that were taking place in Germany Bollmann remained at heart a Social Democrat and a believer in human decency. Under the Nazis, daily life became difficult for Bollmann and countless other German anti-Fascists. To survive, she was employed in a working-class tavern. Her political past continued to provide excuses for Nazi harassment: her home was searched, and she was interrogated on several occasions by Gestapo agents. Her son Otto, who was also a committed Social Democrat, took increasingly great risks as a member of the local cell of the party. Memories of past terrors, and fears of a Germany in the grip of the Nazis, led Bollmann increasingly to despair, and she committed suicide on December 9, 1935. On January 21, 1936, Otto Bollmann was arrested as an anti-Nazi activist. First sentenced to 18 months in a penitentiary, at the end of his term he was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Although he survived the Nazi regime, his health was permanently impaired. He died in 1951, a delayed consequence of the years of brutal treatment by his Nazi captors.

sources:

Archiv der sozialen Demokratie, Bonn. Biographical file on Minna Bollmann.

Schumacher, Martin. M.d.R. Die Reichstagsabgeordneten der Weimarer Republik in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus: Politische Verfolgung, Emigration und Ausbürgerung 1933–1945: Eine biographische Dokumentation. Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1991.

Wickert, Christl. Unsere Erwählten: Sozialdemokratische Frauen im Deutschen Reichstag und im Preussischen Landtag 1919 bis 1933. 2 vols. Göttingen: SOVEC Verlag, 1986.

John Haag , Associate Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia