Fight for Recognition. The Portrait of the German Physician Paula TOBIAS (1886 – 1970). A Reconstructive Biographical Analysis


  • Wiebke Lohfeld Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz



biographical case study, reconstructive analysis, autobiography, recognition, misrecognition, German-Jewish emigration


In this article I intend to focus on one very crucial aspect of biography: the resources used to sustain identity under interfering—even depressing—historical and societal circumstances and how this identity is reconstructed from an autobiography. As an example, I reconstruct the biography of a German-Jewish physician, Paula TOBIAS, who fled Germany in 1935 as a result of the National Socialist’s politics of persecuting Jews. The reconstruction follows her auto­bio­graphy and integrates further data that was collected, includ­ing interviews with persons who had been ac­quainted with Paula TOBIAS, civil registrations, re­paration files and documents filed by those univer­sities where Paula TOBIAS had studied. The ana­lysis of the autobiography and the additional re­sources build the portrait of one of the first Jewish female physicians of the last century in Germany. Throughout her life she learned to fight for herself which is explicitly expressed in her auto­bio­graphi­cal writing. When the NS regime refused to recog­nize her as German, it was her ability to fight that helped her to sustain her German identity. By unfolding the whole biography I sketch her way of fighting as founded in the deep persuasions she developed as a young woman fighting for her edu­cation, as a young doctor fighting for recognition from other doctors and later as a German fighting for her rights under the NS-Regime. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0503224


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Author Biography

Wiebke Lohfeld, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz

Wiebke LOHFELD Current position: Post-Doc Research Fellow at Bates College, USA, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Doing research in a study: Misrecognition as a category in socio-historical research: A project on Life-Strategies of German Jews who fled to Shanghai in 1939. Major research areas: qualitative methods, biographical research, single case studies, misrecognition




How to Cite

Lohfeld, W. (2005). Fight for Recognition. The Portrait of the German Physician Paula TOBIAS (1886 – 1970). A Reconstructive Biographical Analysis. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(3).