Susanne Kranz


This paper explores the autonomous women’s group Frauen für den Frieden (Women for Peace) that was founded in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1982. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the reasons behind the foundation of the group as well as its functioning and its rather quick decline and dissolution. A crucial reason for the establishment of an autonomous, yet illegal, women’s group was the ratification of a new military law that specified drafting women into the military service in case of a national emergency. Additionally, women challenged the existing Friedenspolitik (policy of peace) of the socialist state. Opinions and views about ideology, religion and politics represented minor matters within the group yet they played a decisive role in weakening it, which was further facilitated by the infiltration of the organization by the Ministry of State Security (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), short Stasi. The group has been discussed in previous research, primarily German-language sources, but often only as part of the larger peace movement and not in its own right as an independent organization. Its role leading up to the events of 1989/90 has also been overlooked. The paper relies on archival sources, accounts of former activists, and members of the SED who perceived the group as “bored troublemakers,” broadening the existing knowledge on autonomous women’s organizations in East Germany and Frauen für den Frieden in particular. It offers new insights into an important oppositional group indirectly challenging the state’s power which was established as a women’s organization without explicit women’s issues on their agenda.

Author Biography

Susanne Kranz is an Assistant Professor of History in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Zayed University, Dubai, UAE.