Jüdische Pflege- geschichte

Jewish Nursing History

Biographien und Institutionen in Frankfurt am Main

Thea Wolf on her way to becoming a Jewish nurse

…and they were really proud of their nurse-daughter.“

Nurse training in a Jewish institution

Sister Thea, 1932
Thea Levinsohn-Wolf, Stations of a Jewish Nurse. Germany – Egypt – Israel, Frankfurt am Main 1996, page 26

The first Jewish nursing association was founded in the 1890s. They dedicated themselves to the training of nurses and helped establish nursing as a career. This was also confirmed by Nurse Selma Mayer, who was trained in Hamburg and went to Palestine in 1916. She reported that she herself and a colleague were the first Jewish nurses who received a German national diploma: “The first time that Jewish nurses sat for examinations by the German authorities and received a German State Diploma was in 1913”.1

In 1921 one still assumed that for a career in nursing “girls and women from good stock would be preferentially considered” 2. However in practice, the daughters from wealthy families to whom this was addressed were often interested in studying medicine. As nursing offered a good level of social security, it was attractive for girls and young women who were dependent on a regular income. So training became available to the “lower circles” meaning cooks, servant girls, shop women, governesses, Kindergarten teachers and primary school teachers”3. The desired age for entry into training was between 20 and 30 years of age, so that it was required that a certain level of maturity gained through work experience in different fields could be assumed and that willingness to learn was present4.

However, as a result of the First World War. there was a disruption to this development. Gustav Feldmann, a Jewish doctor practising in Stuttgart who campaigned time and time again for the “establishment and nurturing organisation of professional Jewish nursing in Germany,”5 wrote in 1924 that “during the War the influx of pupils in all the associations almost completely ran dry; in the first few post-war years he had actually completely stopped working because all the young girls mostly moved into trade and industry”6. In the impoverishment of the middle classes during the economic crisis of the 1920s he, however, also saw the chance that nursing “in a short time would become fully appealing once again”7. In total, by the end of the 20s, the Jewish associations had trained more than 1,000 nurses, whereby the organisation of training by different associations resulted in “overall a very colourful and inconsistent picture” 8.

Thea Wolf conformed to the description of requirements mentioned above when she joined the Verein für jüdische Krankenpflegerinnen zu Frankfurt am Main (Jewish Nurses Association in Frankfurt on the Main) in 1927 for training. She was 20 years old, had had previous work experience as an accountant and Kindergarten teacher and was looking for a way to earn a living. She was born in 1907 and lived in the middle-class household of her parents, the butcher Moritz Wolf and his wife Jeanette, on the edge of the so-called “working-class neighbourhood” in Essen. In her youth Thea was already a member of the Jewish youth movement and attended to the Jewish emigrants from Poland who came to the Ruhr area after the First World War. Thea Wolf went to commercial college and became an accountant. This part of her life she assessed later in the following way: “My two-year period of employment ended with the company’s declaration of bankruptcy and I was overjoyed,” as she did not want to waste her time on a “lifeless occupation”9

The motivation to become a nurse
One fundamental goal specific to Jewish nursing was to prove that Jewish nurses were just as selfless, sacrificing and as obedient as their Christian colleagues and that the leadership of the Jewish nursing associations was on a par with those of the other motherhouses; this was, for instance, documented in 1928 and 1929 in articles in the monthly booklet of the Jewish Grand Lodge B’nai B’rith10. In order to achieve this goal, they relied predominantly on female nurses and it was argued that the profession “is like no other in corresponding to the natural abilities and disposition of women, conferring so much inner satisfaction and guaranteeing the bearer of the title a generally respected position.”11

From the accounts of the nurses themselves, it becomes clear how important wanting to help was for them. Nurse Selma formulates it this way: “Because I lost my mother very early […] a strong need grew in me to give people that which I had missed so much: mother-love and love of human beings. Therefore I chose the profession of nursing.”12 Also Thea Wolf and her sisters who often wanted to move away from the poor quarters of the city, heard from their mother time again: “Children, if we were to move away from here we would forget the poor and one must not do that.”13 Thea was also used to taking along with her own mid-morning snack some sandwiches for her fellow pupils who were needy; when she received new clothes on a religious or public holiday she passed on an older piece of clothing to the poor in return.
A great desire was fulfilled as Thea Wolf joined the Frankfurt nursing staff and she expressed this as follows: “Everything seemed to me sensible, necessary and the doctors and nurses blessed with holy earnestness and solicitousness for human welfare.” She felt „she had become a little cog in an important community. I could do something to ease suffering and ease their last few moments in this world as they passed over into another world.”14

Familial resistance
In order to achieve their aims of becoming a nurse meant that it was necessary for many young women to break with tradition. As Thea Wolf in her youth attended to the Polish refugees, she heard her mother say everyday: “Prepare rather your dowry for your future household.” To escape from this kind of motherly admonition, Thea Wolf, in 1926 aged 19, secretly committed herself as “unpaid help”15 in the “Waisenhaus des Frauenvereins von 1883” (orphanage of the women’s association of 1883)” in Berlin. Thea Wolf commented on the reaction of her relatives to this with the words. “They were all persistently furious over my choice of career. They were of the opinion that I would have to give up a >normal life< that I would lead something like the life of a nun instead of going to a finishing school, to be taught how to be a good woman – and also learn to dance, in order then to get married. I wanted, however, something else, to go my way, help the poor and sick, as around me there was so much misery that I had experienced close at hand during the First World War.”16 During her time in the Berlin orphanage Thea Wolf came to know the loveless world in which the apathetic children lived. But neither this depressing experience nor the hostile stance of her family could dissuade her from her choice of career and she registered for nursing training. It was the rabbi who was later able to calm her parents down so that, in time, they became „really proud of their >nurse-daughter<„.
The aforementioned Gustav Feldmann had already said in 1901: „As a general rule applicants should be single.“17 It was assumed that the professional life of a nurse and marriage were not compatible, in most cases nurses on getting married left the nursing association. In order to keep the job attractive regardless of this, it was described as being excellent preparation for marriage.

Arrival as a nurse trainee in the Frankfurter Verein für Krankenpflegerinnen (Frankfurt Association for Nurses)

Nurses‘ home of the charity of Jewish Nurses in Frankfurt am Main. Dining room of the Nurses‘ Home located in Bornheimer Landwehr 85, Frankfurt am Main
Charity of Jewish Nurses in Frankfurt am Main Report for 1913 to 1919, Frankfurt am Main 1920, page 48f

In 1927 Thea Wolf began her nurse training at Number 85, Bornheimer Landwehr, the
belonging to the
(Association for Jewish Nurses in Frankfurt am Main) .
Looking back she remembers her first day: I sat there with a sinking feeling for a few minutes but then
entered the room, greeted me in a friendly fashion and said: “I am the matron and I’ll take you to Nurse Dora. She is responsible for the nursing hostel and she’ll accompany you to your room.”
The room was on the third floor of the nursing hostel. I shared it with two other nursing trainees for the next two years, the length of time required to become a registered state nurse. We received our practical training in the (Jewish community hospital) in Number 36, Gagernstraße. […] A gong sounded at lunchtime and we ate on the ground floor in a spacious dining room. Frau Oberin Minna was introduced to us here for the first time. She had already retired and was no longer working. […] I was introduced to all the older nurses. They all wore gold brooches as a sign of more than twenty-five years of service. […] Nurse Dora introduced me to all the remaining nurses: >This is Nurse Thea, our newest addition.< I belonged therewith to a community, […] I went back to my room and […] wrote[…] to my parents and told them that everything was going wonderfully well, I had arrived safely and that I felt very comfortable.”18

Edgar Bönisch, 2009
(Translated by Yvonne Ford)


Feldmann, Gustav 1901: Jüdische Krankenpflegerinnen. Kassel

Feldmann, Gustav 1924a: Krankenschwestern und Mittelstand. In: Central-Verein-Zeitung. Blätter für Deutschtum und Judentum; C.V.-Zeitung; Organ des Central-Vereins Deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens, Nr. 39, S. 592

Feldmann, Gustav 1924b: Krankenschwestern und Mittelstand. In: Central-Verein-Zeitung. Blätter für Deutschtum und Judentum; C.V.-Zeitung; Organ des Central-Vereins Deutscher Staatsbürger Jüdischen Glaubens, Nr. 40, S. 613

Levinsohn-Wolf, Thea 1996: Stationen einer jüdischen Krankenschwester. Deutschland – Ägypten – Israel. Frankfurt am Main

Schwester Selma 2001: My Life and Experiences at „Shaare Zedek“. In: www.szmc.org.il/Eng/_Uploads/18selmaeng.pdf, Aufruf 02.06.2009

Steppe, Hilde 1997: „… den Kranken zum Troste und dem Judenthum zur Ehre …“ Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Deutschland. Frankfurt am Main

Unabhängiger Orden B’nai B’rith 1921: Monatsschrift der Berliner Logen UOBB. Mitteilungen und Materialien der Großloge für Deutschland, Nr. 1, zitiert nach Steppe 1997, S. 262

Horst-Peter Wolff (Hrsg.) 2001: Biographisches Lexikon zur Pflegegeschichte. „Who was who in nursing history“ Band 2. München


1Schwester Selma 2001, S. 5 (Übers.: „1913 legten das erste Mal jüdische Schwestern eine Prüfung vor deutschen Behörden ab und erhielten ein deutsches staatliches Diplom.“)
2Unabhängiger Orden B’nai B’rith 1921
3DVJK Deutscher Verband Jüdischer Krankenpflegerinnenvereine, Nr. 1, S. 21, zitiert nach Steppe 1997, S. 266
4Steppe 1997, S. 262, Steppe zitiert eine Debatte, die in DVJK, Nr. 2, S. 92ff geführt wurde.
5Horst-Peter Wolff 2001, S. 65
6Feldmann 1924b, S. 613
8Steppe 1997, S. 114
9Levinsohn-Wolf 1996, S. 13
10Steppe 1997, S. 275
11Feldmann 1901, S. 5
12Schwester Selma 2001, S. 38 (Übers.: „Da ich sehr früh meine Mutter verlor […] entstand in mir ein starkes Bedürfnis Menschen das zu geben, was ich so sehr vermisste: Mutterliebe und Liebe für Menschen. Deshalb wählte ich den Beruf der Krankenschwester.“)
13Levinsohn-Wolf 1996, S. 13
14ebd., S. 23
15ebd., S. 15
16ebd., S. 22
17Feldmann 1901, S. 8
18Levinsohn-Wolf 1996, S. 21

Visiting the sick – a Jewish commandment (Bikkur Cholim)

Letterhead from the year 1880
© www.bikurcholim.de

What does „Bikkur Cholim“ mean?
Whoever searches for the origins of Jewish nursing, encounters the Hebrew term “Bikkur Cholim” – visiting the sick. If a member of Jewish community attends to the needs of a sick person, several commandments of the Tora are fulfilled at the same time. Visiting the sick cannot be separated from the commandment to love one neighbor as oneself (Lev. 19:18, see also Lewkowitz 1987) which is a holy duty (Mitzwa) for all Jewish believers. This ministration is not limited only to Jewish persons, but also to non-Jews. And so, after the dissolution of the Jewish ghetto is Frankfurt the Jewish hospitals were open to all confessions.

In Germany Jewish nursing always existed parallel to Christian nursing (and later Islamic and inter-cultural nursing). In the crowded living conditions of the European ghettos in which the Christian majority forced their Jewish neighbors, self-help regarding illnesses and prevention of contagious diseases was unavoidable (essential?). When the establishment of a Jewish ghetto in Frankfurt was ordered in 1462, the first Jewish hospital was founded. Centuries later Jewish nursing history was ended through the organized destruction of National Socialism. As the nursing researcher Hilde Steppe emphasized in her classic text on Jewish nursing history, “the high significance of visiting the sick is derived from the many references to the practice in the Talmudic writings.” (Steppe 1997:82f.) Therefore, no blessing (Bracha) is necessary before carrying out Bikkur Cholim (Ahren 2001, see also Probst (Hg.) 2017).

On the occasion of the dedication of the new hospital of the Israelite Community in Frankfurt in 1914, Dr. Wilhelm Hanauer explained the origins of the Jewish tradition of visiting the sick as follows: „ At the time of the temple (old Israelite sacred site in Jerusalem, B.S.), in many cities pious brotherhoods, Chaberim, existed in many cities, who, in addition to care of the poor and burying the dead, practiced nursing care. These brotherhoods are perhaps the precursors of the Chewra Kadischa (burial societies, B.S.) which exist in almost all Jewish communities today. While the men’s organisations cared for men, women were cared for by women’s associations. Bikkur Cholim is not limited only to care of the body and cleaning the sick room. “One should also influence the patient emotionally, distract and comfort the patient, and pray for the patient’s recovery. It was also the tradition to pray for the sick in the synagogue (ebd). According to the influential “Schulchan Aruch,” who was the first to make the printed handbook of the Rabbi Josef Karo available (in Venice, 1565) and who wrote a commentary on the Jewish book of law, the Halacha, care of the sick also mean offering material support to the needy patient.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Bikkur Cholim and intercultural nursing
Oberserving the Jewish holidays and preparing foods in the Koscher manner are aspects of Jewish nursing. Nearly every Jewish hospital had, and has, its own synagogue. Larger institutions required their non-Jewish staff to work on the Sabbath. (…). Based on the autobiographical accounts written by Thea Levinsohn-Wolf, who emigrated to Egypt during the Nazi-era, we have access to a lively insight into the nursing ethic of the Jewish hospital in Alexandria. “…it was our intention to run the hospital as we were accustomed to in the hospital of the Jewish community in Frankfurt am Main: high medical standards, personal warmth and understanding toward the patients, willingness to help each other and cooperate on behalf of the whole staff for the good of the patient, treatment of every needy person who knocked at our door, no matter the color of their skin or their nationality, whether rich or poor, Jew, Christian or Arab.”…”We had our own Rabbi who primary responsibility was to administer to the dying, to pray with them, to accompany the deceased through the ritual washing through to the point of their burial. Of course, every ill patient could request a priest from their own religion. In this way we came to know priests of all religions. We welcomed them all with the reverence due to them. (Levinsohn-Wolf 1996, pp. 38 and 40). The Jewish diaspora and experiences of migration placed Bikkur Cholim at the forefront of intercultural nursing. Up to the present day the staff and the patients come from many different countries and regions; their religious and political points of view are manifold.

Logo of the Bikur Cholim Hospital, Jerusalem © www.bikurcholim.de (original website no longer active)

Current significance of Bikkur Cholim and Jewish nursing in Germany
As anti-Semitism grew during the socio-political upheavals in Eastern Europe beginning in the 1990’s, some 100,000 east-European Jews have immigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany as refugees (a certain contingent of immigrants was set by the German government). As the Jewish communities grew or were newly founded Chewra Kaddischa and Bikkur Cholim initiatives were formed in many towns and cities. No new Jewish hospitals have yet been opened (as of 2009). Only the Jewish hospital in Berlin was not destroyed by the Nazis and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2006. Also in Frankfurt on Main Jewish patients must still rely on municipal and Christian institutions for nursing care. Contact persons in Frankfurt are Bikkur Cholim, a sub-group of the traditional burial brotherhood Chewra Kadischa.
Outside Germany hospitals bear the name Bikkur (or Bikur) Cholim, like this one in Jerusalem. Thus the Jewish tradition of visiting the sick is continued.

Birgit Seemann, 2009, updated 2015
(Translated by Yvonne Ford)


Ahren, Yizhak 2001: Bikkur Cholim. In: www.hagalil.com/archiv/2001/06/bikkur-cholim.htm [28.02.2014]

Berger, Noemi 2013: Bikur Cholim. In: Jüdische Allgemeine, 25.07.2013, http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/16546

Epstein, Sharon Selib 1999: Visiting the sick. The mitzvah of bikur cholim. Northvale, N.J. (Jason Aronson)

Hanauer, Wilhelm 1914: Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Frankfurt am Main. In: Festschrift zur Einweihung des neuen Krankenhauses der Israelitischen Gemeinde zu Frankfurt. Frankfurt/M., S. 7

Herlitz, Georg/ Kirschner, Bruno (Begr.) 1987 [1927]: Jüdisches Lexikon. Ein enzyklopädisches Handbuch des jüdischen Wissens in vier Bänden […] unter red. Mithilfe v. Ismar Elbogen […] Frankfurt/M., Bd I: A-C, S. 1038

Kottek, Samuel S. 2010: Wohlfahrtspflege in der jüdischen Gemeinde: der Krankenbesuch. In: Heidel, Caris-Petra (Hg.) 2010: Jüdische Medizin – Jüdisches in der Medizin – Medizin der Juden? Frankfurt/M., S. 33-38 – [Siehe auch die Beiträge von Gerhard Baader und Caris-Petra Heidel in diesem Band]

Levine, Aaron 1987: Bikkur Cholim. How to perform the great mitzvah of visiting the sick, Toronto, Kanada (Zichron Meir Publications) 1987

Levinsohn-Wolf, Thea 1996: Stationen einer jüdischen Krankenschwester. Deutschland – Ägypten – Israel. Frankfurt/M.

Lewkowitz, Julius 1987 [1927]: Nächstenliebe. In: Herlitz/ Kirschner, Bd IV/1, S. 374f.

Lewy, Wilhelm 1987 [1927]: Bikkur Cholim. In: Herlitz/ Kirschner, Bd I, S. 1038

Probst, Stephan M. (Hg.) 2017: Die Begleitung Kranker und Sterbender im Judentum. Bikkur Cholim, jüdische Seelsorge und das jüdische Verständnis von Medizin und Pflege. Berlin

Ryzhik, Arkady 2011: „Wie Er die Kranken besuchte, sollst auch du sie besuchen.“ Bikkur Cholim – Die Stunden eines Seminars. In: Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland e.V., Frankfurt am Main: ZWST informiert, Dez. 2011, Ausg. 4, S. 11 (online: http://www.zwst.org/de/home/)

Steppe, Hilde 1997: „… den Kranken zum Troste und dem Judenthum zur Ehre …“. Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Deutschland. Frankfurt/M.

Zwebner, Bat Tova/ Shofnos, Chana 1989: The healing visit. Insights into the mitzvah of bikur cholim. Southfield, Mich., USA (Targum Press)

Further source material

Museum Judengasse Frankfurt am Main (Infobank): http://www.museumjudengasse.de/de/home/ [24.10.2017]

Käppeli, Silvia 2004: Die Anfänge der jüdischen Krankenpflege. In: dies.: Vom Glaubenswerk zur Pflegewissenschaft. Geschichte des Mit-Leidens in der christlichen, jüdischen und freiberuflichen Krankenpflege. Bern u.a., S. 117-126

Trabert, Brigitte 2005: Patienten jüdischen Glaubens und die Krankenpflege in deutschen Kliniken. Soziale Repräsentationen pflegerischen Handelns. Münster

The beginning of the professional practice

In the 19th century the course was set for the creation of the profession of nursing. The professionalization of nursing, according to Hilde Steppe (1997), is linked to the existence of a planned and organised training course combined with payment for the execution of this activity. As this process of the implementation of a specific qualification model was significantly influenced by external factors, she speaks consistently of the construction of an occupation.
The development of nursing as a profession in the 19th century, in which context the founding of Jewish nursing associations should also be seen, is the result of various influencing factors and power constellations of that time:

Industrialization caused a separation between work and family life, a separation between the public and private spheres. This separation was at the same time organized on a gender-specific basis; in the middle classes the woman was responsible for the running of the home, the man was out of the house and was responsible for feeding his family. (This is sometimes still valid today). Naturally this model could not be maintained in working-class households as the women had to work outside of the home in order to assure the support of the family. The impoverishment of the proletarian class led, finally as a result of poor living conditions, to the occurrence of epidemics (e.g. cholera). This led to overcrowding and overstretching of hospitals in individual cases.
Back to the middle class family: There the image of the woman was defined by her role within the household and family. As a wife, she should support her husband, as a mother bring up and take care of the children. Now, quite practically, nursing training could be built up on the basis of this real “job”. Nursing as a choice of employment was supported by the fact that interested educated middle-class women in the 19th century had no access to university. Nursing was the alternative to medicine and at the same time, preparation for the “real purpose” of a woman.

The enforcement of national constitutional interests through warfare

Florence Nightingale in a military hospital in Istanbul Day & Son, 1856
Library of Congress Collection Washington D. C.

The many wars in the 19th century each led to advances in the development of nursing. The necessity for the organization of an effective medical service was made clear as a result of these wars. It became clear that nursing care made a significant impact on whether a battle was won or lost. Through her efforts during the Crimean War (1854), Florence Nightingale was deeply impressed and, on her return to England, could establish a modern nurse training program. The Swiss business man and social activist Henri Dunant should also be mentioned in this context. The Battle of Solferino made such an impression on him that he initiated the founding of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In times of peace, staff were to be trained so that they could take over the care for the wounded in case of war. The patriotic “[…] women’s associations” which had, in part, been in existence since the beginning of the century, “turned their activities towards serving within the Red Cross.” (Hummel 1986, p. 18).

The feminist movement
In most European countries around the middle of the century, feminist movements made up of differing groupings sprang up almost simultaneously. The feminist groups can be divided into the moderate middle-class movement, the radical middle-class movement, the denominational and the social democratic-communist movement. Each had different targets: the right to work, the right to education or the right to co-determination within the church or politics were issues in the foreground, depending on the self-definition of each group.
The moderate middle-class women were by far the largest group and for them the central issue was the debate about middle class women going to work. They demanded that women be allowed to work outside the home, however, within a “naturally” predetermined framework. Ultimately, according to Hilde Steppe (1997), this meant the transference of familial structures into public life, so typical female tasks such as caring or raising children, should thereafter be performed as jobs in public life. The radical middle-class women, on the contrary, held the view that women had a right to the same general education (as men) and access to all types of jobs and training schools, in addition to political equal rights by means of women’s suffrage. For the nursing professions, “[…]” above all the >moderate middle class< feminist movement was of significance in that their ideas of female professions was/is, for the most part, consistent with the emerging self-perception of nursing” (Steppe 1997, S. 42).

Developments within medicine
In the 19th century, as a result of medical advances, the old hospital which was a place to keep the destitute sick, old and fragile people became a medical centre intended only for the sick. Through this rapid course of development which went hand in hand with the self-definition of medicine as a science, the hospital became attractive to well-to-do demographic groups. Also the doctors, who up to then had not paid much attention to the old hospitals, saw in the new hospitals an opportunity for research and teaching. They no longer demanded only religiously affiliated nuns or “attendants” (proletarian, non-educated women and men); rather, they needed educated women, who could ensure the necessary support in the absence of the doctors. Medicine became more specialized in the subjects that we take for granted today. Based on the scientific paradigm, tremendous advances took place, e.g. in the research of infectious diseases.

Which forms of organisation developed then as a result of these power constellations?
Roughly speaking there were four large groups of nursing associations which differed from one another. There were the Catholic nursing orders that came to Germany via France and the occupied territory to the west of the Rhine at the beginning of the 19th century and soon spread throughout the whole empire. The next large group were represented by the organisations belonging to the Protestant Diakonie. Discussions had already begun in the twenties but only in 1836 did this lead to the founding of a Diakonie institution in Kaiserswerth. Their founder, Theodor Fliedner, adopted part of the Catholic model, the insularity and the charitable Christian concept of nursing. On the other hand, the orientation based on the middle-class family model is hard to miss: the theologian (father) and the hospital matron (mother) at the top, below the “children” (deaconesses) who are provided for – all living in one house. This motherhouse system is a typical German development, combining social security with personal bondage. It was also adopted by the Red Cross, which represented the third largest grouping. Also Jewish nursing associations organised themselves along the motherhouse concept (Steppe 1997). The fourth group which should be mentioned are the free, unaffiliated nurses who no longer wanted to work being attached to the motherhouse. Agnes Karll, a former Red Cross sister founded the Berufsorganisation der Krankenpflegerinnen Deutschlands (B.O.K. D.), the Professional Organisation of Nurses of Germany in 1903. This step took place in close contact and with the support of the middle-class feminist movement. At the end of the nineties in the 19th century, the first independent unions for nursing organisations were formed (cf. Wolff/Wolff 1994).
The following table shows an overview of the development in absolute numbers within nursing:

year: 1876 / 1898:

total number: 8,681 / 26,427
in Catholic motherhouses: 5,763 / 12,427
in Protestant motherhouses: 1,760 / 7,576
other: 525 / 3,613
independent nurses: 655 / 2,398

Source: Jutta Helmerichs

How and through whom was nursing content defined?
It was not nurses who defined what was to happen in hospital; the enormous expansive field of medicine had need of a adequate supply of good nurses who could stand in for doctors while they were absent from the patients’ bedside. The demands for nurse training that was independent of religious orders and involved insights into medical findings grew. This development was reinforced through the introduction of health insurance law within the framework of social legislation in 1883, which involved an increase in hospital beds and patient numbers. Also there were demands from the feminist movement for training. This would extend beyond the “natural purpose” of women. The conditions for a job that, in addition to payment, offered training which was required to impart special knowledge, skills and experience, did not yet exist in the 19th century. Only at the beginning of the 20th century, with the first nursing care legislation in 1907 was an important step made in this direction. Previously there had been only regulations within the individual motherhouses with regard to certain training material. (Hummel 1986).

All the forces described above also influenced the formation of the Jewish nursing associations and led to their specific development.

Eva-Maria Ulmer, 2009
(Translated by Yvonne Ford)



Helmerichs, Jutta 1992: Krankenpflege im Wandel (1890 bis 1933). Dissertation Universität Göttingen

Hummel, Eva 1986: Krankenpflege im Umbruch (1876-1914). Freiburg i. Br.

Steppe, Hilde 1997: „…den Kranken zum Troste und dem Judenthum zur Ehre…“. Zur Geschichte der jüdischen Krankenpflege in Deutschland. Frankfurt/M.

Steppe, Hilde 2003: „Die Vielfalt sehen, statt das Chaos zu befürchten.“ Ausgewählte Werke. Bern

Wolff, Horst-Peter; Wolff, Jutta 1994: Geschichte der Krankenpflege. Basel