Harriet Straub

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Waldemar Flaig : Harriet Straub , 1930

Maria Hedwig Luitgardis Straub (born January 20, 1872 in Emmendingen , † June 20, 1945 in Meersburg ) was a German doctor and writer. She published most of her literary works under the pseudonym Harriet Straub . Further works appeared under her married names Hedwig Silles-O'Cunningham and Hedwig Mauthner .


Hedwig Straub was the illegitimate daughter of a notary in Baden. She grew up in repressive religious conditions. After her mother's death, she got into a decisive spiritual and emotional relationship with a Freiburg catechist, got free in a one-day marriage, attended high school courses with Helene Lange in Berlin in 1891 and became acquainted with the bourgeois women's movement. After graduating from high school in Aarau, she seems to have studied in Zurich in 1895/96; but so far neither her move to the Sorbonne nor her medical studies there has been documented. Even a degree cannot be chronologically accommodated in your biography. According to Amina Boumaaiz , she was either awarded her doctorate pro forma, or she acquired it herself as a status indicator.


From 1898 she worked for a few years on behalf of the French government as a doctor in Algeria and the Sahara, where she was involved in health programs for Bedouin women. Stops of your stay are Tunis , Algiers , Timbuktu and Tamanrasset . Harriet Straub wrote down the experiences and impressions from her time in the Sahara in numerous stories.

Scandinavia and Freiburg im Breisgau

Her second marriage to the English nobleman O'Cunningham was also short. After stops in Stockholm and Copenhagen , Harriet Straub returned to Freiburg im Breisgau in 1904 to deepen her medical studies. There she met the writer and philosopher Fritz Mauthner , who would later become her third husband.

Glaserhäusle in Meersburg

Home of Fritz Mauthner and Harriet Straub, the so-called Glaserhäusle in Meersburg on Lake Constance
Gravestone of Fritz Mauthner and Hedwig Mauthner in the cemetery in Meersburg (inscription: Redeemed from being human )

In 1909, Harriet Straub and Fritz Mauthner moved to the "Glaserhäusle" in Meersburg , Glaserhäusleweg 7. There she helped her husband write the dictionary of philosophy and continued to write her own travel sketches, stories and women’s stories from an Alemannic village. Her narrow work is under the spell of female emancipation - initially in the style of native literature of the time ( Rupertsweiler Leut ); then in the sense of a radical questioning of gender relations and the sharpest criticism of civilization ( Torn Letters ).

In her second book, Straub evokes the transforming and melting power of the desert, from which she also drew impulses for a new spirituality. Apart from other literary works, which also include a fragment of a novel, an important influence on Mauthner remains to be recorded. He received from her the “mystical conclusion of his otherwise radical skepticism” (Wilhelm Restle).

Mauthner worked as a doctor during the First World War . Widow since 1923, she lived in the memory of Fritz Mauthner in the Glaserhäusle in Meersburg. The Meersburg parish priest and honorary citizen Wilhelm Restle, whom she met in 1928, acquired the Glaserhäusle and guaranteed her lifelong right of residence in it. In literary terms she was only little active. As the widow of a Jew, she was banned from writing in 1933; she no longer received a pension. She was supposed to wear the Jewish star and no longer dared to go into town. The postman and her housekeeper organized the shopping for them. Thanks to the help of Berlin friends and Wilhelm Restle, the Jew Lili Aschaffenburg survived under the false identity of Roggowski in the Glaserhäusle.

Isolated and withdrawn, Hedwig Mauthner died shortly after the Second World War. In her will, she had ordered a funeral outside the church and forbade all ceremonies - a final revolt against convention and outside regulation that concluded the story of her lifelong liberation ( Ludger Lütkehaus ). A large boulder on the Meersburg grave shared with Mauthner bears the inscription: “Redeemed from being human”. It is located in the Meersburg cemetery in the middle of the east-west axis, as seen from the Hochkreuz.


The author's rights were disputed in court.

  • Beutter booklet. Memories of our catechists . 1909 (published under Hedwig O'Cunningham)
  • Rupertsweiler Leut ': Women's stories from the village . 1912
  • Torn letters . 1914
  • Hot sun . 1914
  • Aisha . 1914
  • The black panther . 1916
  • Mrs. Unimportant . 1916
  • From Anette Droste's suffering . 1924
  • From the mystical way and the wrong way . 1925
  • The Arabs in Algeria . 1925
  • Fritz Mauthner's legacy . 1926 (published under Hedwig Mauthner)
  • The Droste in Meersburg . 1930
  • Did twam asi . 1931
  • Desert adventure . 1932
  • Umbrian legend . 1933
  • The miracle game . in Badische Zeitung 1992


  • Grete Gulbransson: I love that and my contemporaries . Velhagen & Klasings monthly books 1926, pp. 338-344.
  • Wilhelm Restle: Hedwig Mauthner . The Bodenseebuch 1946, p. 97 f.
  • Joachim Kühn: Failed language criticism . 1975
  • Ludger Lütkehaus: Between Emmendingen and Tamanrasset . Allmende 1990, H. 28/29, pp. 141-162
  • Gustav Landauer - Fritz Mauthner: Correspondence 1890-1919 . 1994
  • Manfred Bosch : I want to go outdoors - Harriet Straub / Hedwig Mauthner and the “ Glaserhäusle ”. Meersburg 1996.
  • Amina Boumaaiz: A Baden writer between the Black Forest and the Sahara . "Show its own". Yearbook of the district of Emmendingen 20. 2006, pp. 25–84.

Web links

Commons : Harriet Straub  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Meersburg City Museum. Prospectus, Meersburg, approx. 2000
  2. Stadtmuseum Meersburg, Mauthner / Straub area
  3. Museumsverein Meersburg (ed.): Meersburg under the swastika 1933-1945 . Robert Gessler Friedrichshafen, Meersburg 2011. ISBN 978-3-86136-164-0 , p. 52
  4. Hanno Kühnert : In the clutches of her "lover". Why the fascinating little work of Harriet Straub should be pulped. In: Die Zeit , 1991, No. 39.