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Socialism

Nora Platiel

The Russian revolution of 1917 had made a convinced socialist of Nora Block and she soon realized that studying law would provide a better context for her ideas of the ideal society. Nora Block was interned with many other emigrants in the Vélodrome D’Hiver in Paris, under terrible conditions. Despite all the attempts to prevent both contact with the outside world and communication among the interned women in the camp, Nora Block managed to establish an office to help women who were unable to help themselves by translating letters and documents for them. She was appointed the first woman director of a German district court in 1951. In 1954 she ran for the Hessian State Parliament and was elected for three successive terms and served for six years as a deputy party whip.She was also a member of the Hessian Supreme Court, the committee for electing the judges and numerous other committees.

Marion Phillips

Marion Phillips, who, as Chief Women’s Officer of the Labour Party was one of the most important figures in the campaign to free women from domestic drudgery at the beginning of the twentieth century and whose campaigning work brought a quarter of a million women into the Labour Party.

Modern Netherlands

Dutch Jews acquired full citizenship rights in 1796. Overnight the “Jewish Nation” as a legal corporation was transformed into a community of individual “Jewish Netherlanders.” In the nineteenth and twentieth century they had to secure a place for themselves in a society which sometimes welcomed them but which was nevertheless permeated with anti-Jewish sentiments and prejudices. Consequently, even fully integrated, “modern” Jews retained an ambivalent relationship with mainstream Dutch-Christian culture.

Theresa Serber Malkiel

Theresa Malkiel was an activist for labor, women’s rights, and especially socialism. In one of her many published articles, she wrote, “The socialist regime [is] the only true exponent of complete equality and political economic independence.” Theresa Serber Malkiel, one of four daughters, was born on May 1, 1874, in Bar, Russia. The Serber family immigrated to New York in 1891, and although she had been educated, Theresa worked in a garment factory. Within three years, she helped to found the Infant Cloak Makers’ Union.

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg was one of the great Marxist theorists of the twentieth century; her radical conception of socialist democracy stands in opposition to both bolshevik authoritarianism and technocratic reformism. Born in the Polish city of Zamosc (75 km SE of Lublin), she grew up in an assimilated, middle class Jewish family. She learned German at home and, undoubtedly, a certain affinity for enlightenment ideals. Luxemburg would never join the famous Jewish socialist organization known as the Bund, and she was basically unconcerned with issues of identity. It was during her high school years that she met Leo Jogiches (1867–1919), who would play a central role in the history of continental socialism. They became youthful lovers, but even after the end of their romantic relationship, they would continue to work together. Her engagement with political issues began while she was still in high school as a member first of the Proletariat, the first socialist organization in Poland. Internationalist in orientation, concerned with building a mass base, it was decimated by the government following the strike wave of the 1880s. Luxemburg fled her homeland in 1887 and later enrolled in the University of Zurich, where she completed a dissertation on “The Industrial Development of Poland” (1898).

Zivia Lubetkin

Zivia Lubetkin was born on November 9, 1914 to a well-to-do, traditional Jewish family in the town of Beten in eastern Poland, where in 1880 her father, Ya’akov-Yizhak, who ran a small business, had also been born. Her mother, Hayyah (née Zilberman), was born in 1882 in Useten. During the Holocaust Zivia’s parents went into hiding but were discovered in 1942 and shot on the spot.

Johanna Löwenherz

Even today it is difficult to reconstruct Johanna Löwenherz’s biography in full. She was born on March 12, 1857 in Rheinbrohl and according to her biographer, Wolfgang Dietz, was “the daughter of a well-to-do Jewish family and brought up in the Jewish faith” (Dietz 1989, 31). Her father, Hermann Löwenherz (1811–1897), was a businessman who owned a quarry. Her mother was Fanni, née Jacobsohn (1826–1902). Little is known about her education, though Cornelia Kunze claims that she studied piano and singing at the Conservatory in Stuttgart and was able to teach Esperanto. Although by upbringing she was closest to the middle-class women’s movement, she switched to the socialist women’s movement, on whose behalf she traveled widely in order to raise consciousness. According to Dietz, this change in her political allegiance led her to abandon Judaism. She was one of the most active representatives of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the Neuwied region and co-founder of the local Volksbildungsverein (Association for Popular Education). Although her political opinions made her a somewhat controversial figure in the SDP, she was nevertheless elected as a delegate to the regional party conferences in Duisburg (1895), Essen (1897) and Neuweid (1897).

Charlotte Lipsky

Charlotte Schacht Lipsky, interior decorator, was born in Riga, Latvia, in December 1879. The eldest of five children, she was the only girl. Lipsky immigrated to the United States in 1895, accompanied by her mother, who lived with Lipsky until her death. Upon arriving in the United States, Lipsky immediately involved herself in politics, specifically in the Jewish socialist movement, becoming one of “Emma Goldman’s girls” on the Lower East Side of New York.

Käthe Leichter

Käthe Leichter was undoubtedly the foremost socialist feminist in “Red Vienna” during the interwar years. A Social Democratic politician, labor organizer and author, with a doctorate in political economy, she directed women’s affairs for the Viennese Chamber of Workers (Arbeiterkammer). In May 1938, before she had a chance to escape from Austria, Käthe Leichter was arrested by the Gestapo for illegal socialist activities; she was never released from imprisonment.

Pearl Lang

In Pearl Lang’s socialist, working-class family, music, theater, and poetry were integral to the daily routine. Her father played piano, her mother wrote poetry, and both actively participated in Chicago’s Jewish cultural societies. Yiddish was the first language in the household. Pearl would be powerfully influenced not only by her family’s Jewish heritage but also by the cultural riches of Chicago. She learned English with her mother at night school and at Hibbard Elementary School, which offered classes integrating art, literature, history, and geography. Not surprisingly, her own interest in artistic activities began early.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Socialism." (Viewed on December 13, 2017) <https://jwa.org/topics/socialism>.

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