Beatrix Mesmer

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Beatrix Mesmer-Strupp (born June 2, 1931 in Munich ; † September 24, 2015 in Bern ; resident in Muttenz ) was a Swiss historian of German origin. From 1973 to 1996 she taught as a full professor for Swiss history at the University of Bern . She was one of the first female Swiss professors there.

Live and act

Her family fled to Switzerland after the Reichspogromnacht in 1938 , where she became stateless in 1941 . The half-Jewish immigrant grew up in the Bernese Seeland and attended schools there until she graduated from high school . In her youth she was called "Sauschwob" because of her German accent, she later said. In 1952 she married a high school teacher and was naturalized in Switzerland . Their son was born in the same year. Mesmer studied history, art history and media studies at the University of Bern and the Free University of Berlin . In addition to his studies, Mesmer worked as an assistant editor at the Swiss dispatch agency .

In 1959 she became an assistant in Bern. In 1961 she received her doctorate there with a thesis on Arnold Ruge's plan for an intellectual alliance between the Germans and the French. In 1972 habilitated them with a history of ideas work on the fiscal policies of the early socialism . From 1973 to 1996 she was a full professor of Swiss history in connection with modern general history at the University of Bern. She was Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and History (1978/79) and from 1989 to 1992 she was the first Vice Rector and therefore the first woman on the University of Bern management. She was president of the Swiss Society for History .

Her research interests focused on social , mentality and gender history . As co-editor in the 1980s, Mesmer played a key role in the three-volume standard work History of Switzerland and the Swiss . In 1988 she published the book Ausklammert - Einklammert. Women and women organizations in Switzerland in the 19th century and 2007 with female citizens without voting rights. The Politics of the Swiss Women's Associations 1914–1971 two important works on Swiss women's history . Even if Mesmer had a fundamental impact on women's history, she never saw herself as a feminist or discriminated against as a woman. Because of her women's history issues, she was not disadvantaged at the university. On the other hand, there was resistance from her humanities colleagues when she promoted a habilitation in climate history and built a bridge to the natural sciences.

Mesmer participated in various functions in the development of the Historical Lexicon of Switzerland (HLS) . She worked on the foundation board and the foundation board committee of the HLS, was active in the development of the lexicographical concepts and examined individual articles as an expert.

Mesmer was a member of the Swiss Science Council and the Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation. She was also the first woman to preside over the Swiss History Society . In 1975 she was a founding member of the National Commission for the Publication of Diplomatic Documents in Switzerland.

In 2011, Beatrix Mesmer was awarded the human rights prize of the international society for human rights together with the Bern women's rights activist Marthe Gosteli, recognizing her for her commitment to women's rights. One of her doctoral students was the women's researcher and historian Brigitte Schnegg .

Fonts (selection)

  • Arnold Ruge's plan for an intellectual alliance between the Germans and the French. W. Duerrenmatt, Bern 1963 ( dissertation , University of Bern, 1961).
  • Tax reform as a transitional measure. The reception of the demand for progressive taxation in the early socialist programs. Herbert Lang, Bern / Frankfurt am Main 1976, ISBN 3-261-02027-X ( habilitation thesis , University of Bern).
  • Parenthesized - Parenthesized. Women and women organizations in 19th century Switzerland. Helbing and Lichtenhahn, Basel / Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-7190-1025-2 .
  • (Ed.) The scientification of everyday life. Instructions for the correct handling of the body in the popular Swiss press 1850–1900. Chronos, Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-905312-24-7 .
  • Citizens without voting rights. The policy of the Swiss women's associations 1914–1971. Chronos, Zurich 2007, ISBN 978-3-0340-0857-0 .



Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Urs Hafner: The stuff with which you pad your identity. In: Horizons. Swiss research magazine. No. 92, March 2012, accessed April 2, 2018.
  2. Short biography and reviews of works by Beatrix Mesmer at
  3. Urs Hafner: History as a cushion of identity. On the death of historian Beatrix Mesmer , Neue Zürcher Zeitung , October 2, 2015.
  4. Brigitte Studer: Beatrix Mesmer (June 2, 1931 - September 24, 2015). In: Swiss Journal for History 66 (2016), pp. 161–163, here: p. 163.
  5. Martine Brunschwig Graf : In memory of Beatrix Mesmer (1931-2015). Historical Lexicon of Switzerland , October 2015, accessed on April 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Obituary for Beatrix Mesmer in the Dodis database of Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland