A doctor and military surgeon who smoked cigars and drank beer and whiskey, Käte Frankenthal refused to be limited to traditional women’s roles. Frankenthal resisted her family’s pressure to marry or pursue feminine hobbies, instead practicing martial arts. She earned her MD in Freiburg in 1914 and worked as a country doctor, inciting scandal with her horseback riding and her trips to the local tavern. Since the German army only accepted women as nurses, not doctors, she volunteered for the Austrian army and served on the Balkan Front before returning to work in various research institutions after the war. In 1928 she became the physician for the working-class district of Berlin-Neukölln. An active member of the Social Democratic Party, she lobbied for reforming Germany’s sex laws: creating sex education, access to birth control, and an end to the bans on homosexuality. When her political activities for the Social Democratic Party and the more radical Socialist Workers Party led to a warrant for her arrest in 1933, she was forced to flee Germany. She re-qualified as a doctor and trained as a psychoanalyst, opening a private practice in New York where she offered marital counseling and family therapy.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Käte Frankenthal ." (Viewed on June 13, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/frankenthal-k-te>.