Thursday, 15 December 2016

Henni Lehmann (1862 – 1937) – German artist, writer and social reformer.

With thanks to Debbie Cameron for finding this German artist.

"Fine art, in the strictest sense, is the first creative power in the world; it separates light and darkness, separates water and land; it creates animals and plants, the image of man, and the true artist Knows to breathe the breath of his soul into all, that it may live." (Henni Lehmann, 1914)

Henriette Straßmann was born on 10th October 1862 in Berlin. Her father, Wolfgang Straßmann (1821 - 1885), was a German physician, liberal politician and social reformer who was a Chairman of Berlin City Council.

In 1888 Henni married Karl Lehmann, a German legal scientist (1858 – 1918).  After their marriage they converted to Protestantism. The couple went to live in Rostock.

They had two children - Eva Fiesel (née Lehmann) (1891 - 1937) and Karl Leo Heinrich Lehmann, who became an archaeologist (1894 - 1960). From 1907 onwards, the family spent their holidays on the Island of Hiddensee. In 1909, Henni was one of the founding members of the Co-operative Shipping Company on the Island.  She was also very involved in the creation of better living conditions on the island.  In 1913 she gave the islanders a loan to build a house for the doctor and in 1914 she was one of the founders and first directors of Nature and Cultural Heritage of Federal Hiddensee.

Until the family moved to Göttingen in 1911, Henni Lehmann was chairman of Rostock Women's Association.   She campaigned for women to be allowed to have the same education as men and to be able to attend the most prestigious schools and universities.

During the First World War, Henni was director of the Göttingen Department of The National Women's Service (NFD) inside the Patriotic War Forum.

After her husband's death in 1918, Henni moved to Weimar.   During the Weimar Republic she joined the Socialist Democratic Party and became committed to helping the workers in their struggles.   Henni wrote socially motivated novels and gave lectures.  She was also a poet.

In 1919, Henni founded the artists group known as the Hiddensoer Künstlerinnenbund and also acquired a venue for holding exhibitions - the Kunstscheune, later called the Blaue Scheune - in Vitte.

From 1919 the Hiddensoer Artists met regularly in the Lehmann holiday home in Vitte.   Other members of the Group included Clara Arnheim , Elisabeth Büchsel and Käthe Loewenthal.

Diagnosed with Cancer, in order to spare her family – one of her children had died and the other had gone to live in America - Henni committed suicide on 18th February 1937.  Sources:  Debbie Cameron’s Facebook Page and

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