- Category : 1879-births
- Type : GE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Eden 1
German social reformer who joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1908, more than ten years before women acquired the right to vote, and pursued a career that included politics, becoming, in 1919, the first female Reichstag member to address a German parliament.
Marie was the daughter of a carpenter and his wife. Her childhood was marked by rural poverty, and she was obliged to leave school when aged 14. After finishing at the local school in Landsberg an der Warthe, Juchacz, whose beliefs were Protestant, began work in 1893, first as a maid, and then, briefly, in a factory that made curtains and fishing nets. From 1896 to 1898 she worked as a nurse in the local psychiatric institution.
She later completed an apprenticeship as a dressmaker, and took a job with a tailor called Bernhard Juchacz whom, in 1903, she married. Their daughter Lotte was born in the same year. Their second child, Paul, was born in 1905, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1906 and Marie Juchacz moved to Berlin, accompanied by her two children, her younger sister, Elisabeth Kirschmann-Röhl (1888–1930) and Elisabeth's children. The sisters set up house together in Berlin with their children, forming out of necessity what was seen as an unconventional family unit. Marie worked at dressmaking until 1913.
Marie Juchacz joined the SPD in 1908. As an active party member Juchacz quickly became a popular speaker at political meetings. In 1913 she was appointed to a paid position by the party as the Cologne women's secretary in what was then the Upper Rhine province. Her children remained in Berlin, looked after by her sister.
In November 1914 she gave a series of presentations to the "National Women's Association" (Nationale Frauengemeinschaft) entitled, "The Social obligations of Women in Wartime". During the First World War, Marie Juchacz worked, together with Anna Maria Schulte, Else Meerfeld and her sister Elisabeth Röhl, organising the "Home Work Centre" (Heimarbeitszentrale). This involved setting up sewing centres to give women the opportunity to work from home, along with other support for war widows and orphans.
In 1917 she returned to Berlin when she accepted an invitation to become the Women's Secretary in the Party's national leadership in succession to Luise Zietz. In the same year Juchacz was elected to the SPD's national executive committee. She also, in 1917, took over from Clara Zetkin the editorship of the women's newspaper "Die Gleichheit" ("Equality").
On 6 February 1919 Marie Juchacz and her sister were two of the 37 women elected to the Weimar National Assembly (which in June 1920 was superseded by the national Reichstag, to which Juchacz was also elected). On 19 February, exactly a month after the first national election in which women had been permitted to vote, Marie became the first woman to make a speech before that body, or indeed any German parliament.
Having made her mark with her first speech to the National Assembly, Juchacz's powerful oratory was again on display with her final contribution, in the turbulent Reichstag debate that followed the Presidential Election in April 1932. She was, again, the only woman to speak in the debate, and she was uncompromising in her attack on the Nazi Party.
Building on ideas of combining self-help with welfare provision that she had developed while organising wartime support organisations, on 13 December 1919 Marie Juchacz founded the Workers' Welfare Committee (AWO) committee.
On 30 January 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed Reichs Chancellor. The AWO continued to function for a few more months, but after the Reichstag fire at the end of February and the Reichstag election of 5 March 1933, political parties found themselves banned, with the SPD, second only to the Nazi party in the March elections, prominent in the firing line. SPD members were killed or arrested while others lost their jobs. The AWO, like other organisations that had opposed the Nazi tide, disintegrated. The SPD leadership fled to Prague while Juchacz, now aged 54, and together with her sister's widower, Emil Kirschmann, whom she had now married, fled to Saarbrücken, which at this stage was still under French military control. In Saarbrücken she continued to campaign against National Socialism, and also set up a lunch centre to provide some contact for refugees from Germany who suddenly found themselves stateless.
In 1941 she fled again, on an emergency visa, to New York City, via Martinique. In New York she was reunited with her sister's widower, Emil Kirschmann. She learned English and, in 1945, directly following the end of World War II, established a New York-based equivalent of the AWO with its focus on support for victims of Naziism, sending parcels of food and other essentials to a destroyed Germany. In 1949, Juchacz returned to Germany from exile in the United States and was made the AWO's honorary chairwoman.
She died on 28 January 1956, aged 76, in Düsseldorf, West Germany.