Sunday, 11 March 2012

Clara Zetkin

Clara Zetkin (1857-1933), socialist, fighter for equal rights, women's suffrage and peace campaigner.  In 1910 she organised the first International Women's Day and this stamp celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the event.
It was not the first time China had celebrated Clara Zetkin,  for the 50th Anniversary of Women's Day they issued a set of four stamps. Born Clara Eissner in Saxony she studied at the Leipzig Teaching College for Women where was where she was politicised, and joined the Social Democratic Party in 1877, who won 12 seats in the elections. This turn of events worried Bismark and he introduced anti-socialist laws banning meetings and publications. In 1882 Clara  left Germany for Zurich and then to Paris where she married the Marxist Ossip Zetkin, a Russian revolutionary living in exile.
They had two children but sadly he died of tuberculosis in 1889.  In 1890 the anti-socialist laws ceased so Clara returned to Germany and campaigned against militarism and for women's suffrage, editing Die Gleichheit (Equality) from 1891-1917.  She opposed the First World War writing in November1914
"When the men kill, it is up to us women to fight for the preservation of life. When the men are silent, it is our duty to raise our voices in behalf of our ideals."
and in 1915 helped organised the International Women's Peace Conference in Switzerland. She did not agree with the Social Democratic Party suspending strikes and political activism for the war so continued her journey to the left joining the Sparticus League, and was arrested several times during this period for opposing the war.  In 1919 the Weimar republic included complete women's suffrage in the country's new constitution.
          Woman tractor driver
Clara was elected to the Reichstag in 1920 as a member of the KPD (German Communist Party) and continued her campaign for equality for all but  she was also a life-long anti-racist amongst other things
taking part in the international protests against the Jim Crow laws in the USA.  In 1932 as the oldest member of parliament she was entitled to open the parliament's first session. She took the opportunity to make a speech denouncing the policies of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.  With the burning of the Reichstag in February 1933 Hitler suspended all civil liberties and she went  into exile again, this time to the Soviet Union where she died in the June. She is buried by the wall of the Kremlin in Moscow. 

An entry to Viridian Postcard's Sunday Stamps


Bob Scotney said...

I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard of her. Thanks for explaining so much.

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

I have to admit, like Bob, I hadn't heard of her.

viridian said...

Goodness I am learning so much this Sunday. A number of of heroines today. thank you for participating.

VioletSky said...

She is a perfect choice for this international women's day stamps!

Little Nell said...

I hadn’t heard of her before either but I’m glad I have now, and what an unusual set if stamps.

Postcardy said...

Clara Zetkin is a perfect choice for today's theme, and I love all the Chinese stamps.

Marcie said...

Very interesting post!

Jocelyn said...

A very interesting and informative post. What a wonderful woman.