Lida Gustava Heymann

* 15.03.1868 (Hamburg) 31.07.1943 (Zürich) Germany
Fields of activity: women rights
Author: Erdmute Dietmann-Beckert

Augspurg Heymann

Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF) Congress, Zürich 1919 - Augspurg, Anita; Despard, Charlotte; Genoni, Rosa; Hamilton, Alice; Heymann, Lida Gustava; Kulka, Leopoldina

‘Women and mothers in Germany who have lived through this war, aren’t you ready to do what is in your power to protect the coming generations from equal catastrophes?’  (Schenk, Herrad. Stuttgart 1981.)

Why do I think these both women are important

Anita Augspurg and Lida Gustava Heymann belong to the radical wing of the early women’s movement. They objected the war and were engaged for the rights of women. They objected Hitler’s dictatorship because they recognized the danger to the peace in the world.

Activities in Society and Politics

In 1896, Lida Gustava initiated lunch restaurants for working women in Hamburg and opened an after-school care club for girls and boys. She bought a house in the center of the city and opened a women’s center with a library. Besides, she also opened a public bath and a secondary school.

Anita joined the women’s movement in 1891. She had met Rosa Luxemburg during her studies in Zuerich. At “The first congress for Women’s Interests” they voted for the women’s right to take part in elections, their right to have a professional training and the right to work outside the house.

In 1897 Augspurg and Heymann participated in the congress of the “Abolitionist Federation”, which opposed the state regulations of prostitution and sexual exploitation of women. About 1902 both women belonged to the board of the federation “Progressive women’s associations”.
From 1907 the “Magazine for Women’s Voting Rights” is published, later renamed to “The Woman in the State”.

At the Beginning of the First World War Anita and Lida Gustava travelled to Den Haag where they attended “The International Women’s Peace Congress”. In their paper they demand an immediate end to the war.

In 1918 Augspurg is a member of the interim parliament in Bayern, but does not get a mandate in the elections. In 1923 she and Lida ask the Bavarian Minister of Interior to expel the Austrian Hitler from the country, but their request is denied.

Families and Education

Anita’s parents both are academics. Her father is a lawyer. Their daughter is liberally brought up. She becomes a gymnastics teacher, besides this she attends acting lessons. Anita and a friend open a photo studio in Munich. She begins to reflect about the women’s legal position and decides to study law in Zurich. She receives a doctorate in law.

Lida Gustava comes from a bourgeois family. She is educated by private teachers at home until she visits a Girls’ High School in Hamburg. After a year in Dresden, she returns home. She starts teaching in a charity school und is the headmistress of a sewing school.

After the death of her father she is financially independent and engages herself in different social facilities. She joins the German Women’s Movement.
In Berlin she visits the “International Congress for Women’s Activities” and meets Anita Augspurg.

Henceforth the two women live and work together. In Bavaria they buy a farm. After Hitler’s coming to power they do not return to Germany from a holiday in Switzerland. Until their death they are poor and need support from wealthy friends in Zurich. The German government had confiscated their wealth.


Already in 1902 Anita Augspurg and Lida Gustava Heymann had demanded that women should be allowed to take part in elections. In 1918 this right was embodied in the Weimar Constitution. Until women reached equality with men hey had to wait further thirty years. Unfortunately it was not put into effect immediately but some years later.
That since 2005 Germany’s chancellor is a woman is certainly the merit of the early German women’s movement. Unfortunately for a woman it is still very difficult to reach the top of a large company.
I agree with Hiltrud Schroeder’s statement about the two women (Luxemburg and Heymann. EDB). ‘Their optimistic view that equal rights for women would mean also an equal position in society, we share no longer’.

Literature and Links

  • Grundgesetz und Verfassungsreform G 1994. München 1996.  Himmelsbach, Christiane. Verlaß ist nur auf unsere eigene Kraft Oldenburg 1996
  • Schenk, Herrad. Anita Augspurg. In: Hans Jürgen Schultz (Hrsg.) Stuttgart 1981.
  • Anita Augspurgs 14.2.14.
  • Women‘s Rights 14.2.14.
  •  L. G. Heymann and A. Augspurg 14.2.14.

Picture source

  • With the kind permission of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Records, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, U.S.A., and the friendly support of the FrauenMediaTurm, Köln, Germany,