Käthe Kobuth

Käthe Koboth, photographed 1941 in Breslau. She was my father’s cousin’s mother.

Käthe came to North Rhine-Westphalia as a refugee from Silesia after World War II. This was during the last century’s largest wave of immigration when millions of German speaking refugees from East Prussia and Silesia immigrated to post-war Germany.

She was often harassed and looked down upon for being a ‘foreigner,’ and – on top of it – for being a fashionable woman from a big city who ended up in a small rural town near Bielefeld, Germany (Breslau was considered a metropolis before the war with a population of over 600,000). Despite regular confrontation, she wore a hat and pants around the village (in the late 1940s) and ignored the talk that went on behind her back.

I recently asked my grandmother when she got her first pair of pants and she admitted that it was a pair of skiing pants (!) that she bought for a trip in the mid-1960s.

On January 19th, 1919, women in Germany were finally able to vote in their first election. In order mark the centennial, I’ve decided to launch a series of women who should not be forgotten. This is my first entry.

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