Audiowalk in the footsteps of the Jewish social activist – news from the Goethe University in Frankfurt

The aim of making Frankfurt’s Jewish history visible is the digital walks that result from a joint project by Jewish Studies professor Rebekka Voss at Goethe University, Bremen artist Elianna Renner and Frankfurt sociologist Dr. Marion Keller: The web app leads to the workplaces of the socially committed Jew, women’s rights activist and writer Bertha Pappenheim (1859-1936). On June 20, the app with the title “Bertha Pappenheim Map” goes officially online with an opening tour (

Bertha Pappenheim comes from Frankfurt’s upper Jewish bourgeoisie, which campaigned for better living conditions and education for the population in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although the militant activist was way ahead of her time with her fight, especially for women who were at risk from prostitution and trafficking in girls, she has so far hardly played a role in the city’s memory. Now scientists and artists have created a detailed portrait of Bertha Pappenheim and made it tangible in a bilingual app (German / English). The app gathers short stories, historical photos and videos about art events about current parallels. The audio walks make people aware that trafficking in women is an important part of the migration and urban history of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Anyone who goes on one of the three digital tours through Westend, Bahnhofsviertel and Ostend with their smartphone moves between everyday Jewish life, anti-Semitism, migration, human trafficking and the struggle for more rights for women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Pogroms in Eastern Europe had driven Jewish families, including women, alone or with their children, to flee westwards. Stranded in Frankfurt, destitute women were exposed to prostitution and girl trafficking. Bertha Pappenheim wanted to offer them a protective place: It is thanks to their hands-on, decisive manner that Frankfurt social institutions forged alliances in order to build a dormitory for single women and their children, among other things.

In order to protect women, Pappenheim was convinced, above all their legal and social position as well as their educational and professional situation had to be improved. The social activist and writer campaigned for this at congresses and in practice throughout her life – and thus snubbed a number of contemporaries. In her own obituary for various magazines, she puts it soberly: “She was a woman who stubbornly stood up for her ideas for decades. (…) It often did it in forms and ways that wanted to anticipate a development, just as they were not according to everyone’s custom and taste. Pity!”

At the opening of the Bertha Pappenheim Map, a specially prepared tour begins 14 o’clock on the forecourt of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt with a conversation by Prof. Dr. Rebekka Voss, Elianna Renner and Dr. Marion Keller with Linda Kagerbauer (Women’s Department of the City of Frankfurt) about the more than five-year development process of her art-science project, in which students from Goethe University were also involved. This is followed by a one-hour walk with the Bertha Pappenheim Map. It leads to selected stations on the three digital tours. Guests from Frankfurt social institutions supplement the city walk with reports from current work with people in difficult life situations. The tour ends on Bertha-Pappenheim-Platz.

The free tours can be accessed online as audio walks in German and English without prior download. A smartphone with internet is required for the digital city tour. Please register for the opening at: [email protected]

The event of the Jewish Museum Frankfurt takes place in cooperation with the women’s department of the city of Frankfurt and the Society for the Promotion of Judaic Studies in Frankfurt a. M.

Bertha Pappenheim Map online at