- Category : 1885-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 5/2 - Heretical / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Upheaval 1
German politician in the Communist Party (KPD), trade unionist and women's rights activist.
She became seriously physically handicapped after an operation when she was 18, and between 1903 and 1910 she was restricted to working at home.
She joined the Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands / SPD) in 1906, and within it was responsible for "Women work" in Berlin between 1907 and 1916. In 1907 she also joined a trades union, also becoming a member of the precursor to the "Revolutionary Union Opposition" organisation. During the War (1914-1918) she accompanied Clara Zetkin to the International Women's Congress at Bern in 1915.
In the second national election of 1924 she was included on the Communist Party list which resulted in her being elected to the national parliament (Reichstag). She was re-elected in 1928.
During the 1920s Arendsee wrote for various Communist publications, notably between 1922 and 1924 when she was responsible for "Die Kommunistin" ("The [Female] Communist") and then between 1928 and 1933 when she edited "Proletarische Sozialpolitik" ("Proletarian Social Policy").
In January 1933 when the Nazis took power and converted Germany into a one-party dictatorship, political activity (except in support of the Nazi party) became illegal. Arendsee was arrested in April 1933 and held in "protective custody" at the Women's Prison on Barnimstraße in Berlin in till September 1933. In April or May 1934 she emigrated via Prague and Paris to Moscow, where she joined her partner (described in some sources as her husband) Paul Schwenk who had already escaped from Germany to Paris in April 1933, in the aftermath of the Reichstag fire. In Moscow she undertook a succession of party and welfare related jobs.
In 1943 she was one of the co-founders - according to one source the only female among them - of the Soviet sponsored National Committee for a Free Germany (Nationalkomitee Freies Deutschland / NKVD), an organisation for which she worked until 1945.
In August 1945 she became a member of the main Women's Committee with the Berlin city administration ("Berliner Magistrat"). Between 1945 and 1948 she headed up the Social Policy department of the Trades Union Federation (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund / FDGB).
Martha Arendee died in Berlin on 22 May 1953, aged 68. In 1975, on what would have been her ninetieth birthday, her face appeared on a celebratory postage stamp.