“What did Alice mean?” written on a banner in front of the Alice Salomon Hochschule (ASH) entrance to Hellersdorf. What did Alice mean? Next to another: “Giffey not Welcome”. Dozens of students are sitting on the floor around. It’s Monday morning and the start of a week of celebrations to mark Alice Salomon’s 150th birthday.
The descendants of the important social reformer are invited, as well as directors of various archives and foundations who are researching her personality and work historically. The mayor, Franziska Giffey (SPD), means a greeting and it can actually be a consensual and festive event. But Giffey’s appearance has met with student resistance.
After ASH Rector Bettina Völter opened the event in the university’s main auditorium, Giffey climbed the podium. Völter had been informed in advance by the students that they were against the visit of the SPD politician. A letter to the rector said: “Because of your policies, your racist statements and your actions, which exacerbate social inequality and severely harm marginalized groups, we feel compelled to ask you, as management, to withdraw the invitation again. Giffey “.
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They also explain that Giffey is seeking “hostile deportations to human rights in the countries of Syria and Afghanistan” and would fail to recognize the structural disadvantages of people with a migrant background.
Out of consideration for Solomon’s family, demonstrations are held only in front of the building
Völter was able to agree with the students that they would only protest in front of the building, not at Audimax, because of the consideration for Alice Salomon’s family, who had come from the UK and Israel for the ceremony. Also, immediately after their speech a meeting was organized between the student representatives and Giffey.
In her greeting, Giffey makes conflict a problem. She thinks it’s good to have critical students and hopes for a good conversation. She then addresses the banner. What did Alice mean? “Perhaps she would be pleased that after 800 years of the city’s history, a woman would be the ruling mayor.”
In fact, Solomon had fought for women’s rights all his life. In 1906 she received her doctorate with a dissertation on the unequal pay of women and men – even before women were formally admitted to Prussian universities. Born in Berlin in 1872 to an educated middle-class family, Solomon grew up at a time when women were not even allowed to vote, but instead increasingly rebelled against their social restrictions. She arrived at the university and, after completing her doctorate, first founded the Women’s Social School, which provided interfaith training in the social professions, and then in 1925 the German Academy for Women’s Social and Educational Work. The first social work research center in Germany.
Alice Salomon was a resilient woman
In 1933, the Nazi regime forced Solomon to resign from all its offices and close the academy. Under the National Socialists, she was considered “foreign to the people.” Also because of her Jewish origins, she was forced by the Gestapo in 1937 to leave the country within three weeks – otherwise she was threatened with a concentration camp. Solomon emigrated to New York via England. She remained largely unknown there and died alone in 1948.
What is certain is that Alice Salomon was a resilient woman who was simply not happy with the current situation. And he tried to turn it around for good from different angles. As a careful feminist, scholar, pioneer, overseer, and volunteer. On all sides.
After Giffey leaves the stage, she sits with five students in the “Frei_Raum” student café. The daily mirror can not be there. Later, Marc Skott, one of the participants, who studies social work at ASH, says: “It was not a big dialogue. You should not imagine it that way. “We have asked Giffey several times to resign as mayor.” Skott says he did not think he was taking Giffey too seriously.
“She does not know the realities of social workers. “He has no idea what it’s like to have to constantly disappoint the people you work with.” Because there is no living space, no money and, for many, very little to eat. As Giffey and students debate in the café, Alice Salomon’s descendants sit on the university podium.
Solomon’s great-great-great-grandson also came
Granddaughter Eva Jacobs recounts Solomon’s memories that have been passed down to her family for years. She was a devoted girl. An impressive person who “lovingly cared for her ailing mother and at the same time founded the first school for social workers and wrote her own books.” In the rows opposite Jacobs sit her grandchildren, twins, 19 – and applaud. At dinner, one of the two, Zoe Jacobs, says her great-great-great-aunt particularly impressed her as a young woman. As a model.
Do you also study social work? After all, her great-great-aunt, as the founder of social work, played a key role in transforming volunteer work, which especially women did in addition to housework, into the profession. Maybe she wanted to follow in their footsteps? No, says Zoe and laughs. She studies marketing communication. It may even be the complete opposite of what Solomon had done. And maybe she is able to do it only because women like her great-great-great-aunt, many years ago, stood up for other women to learn what they want.