Commemorative ceremony for Johanna Elberskirchen and Hildegard Moniac in Rüdersdorf near Berlin

On August 23rd, 2003 a memorial event for Johanna Elberskirchen (1864-1943) and Hildegard Moniac (1891-1967) took place in Rüdersdorf near Berlin at the cemetery Rudolf-Breitscheid-Straße. In spite of the rain, 100 women and men of different age groups came to the cemetery – the majority were women, many of them lesbians: the youngest were around 17 years old, the oldest around 80. Many Rüdersdorfians and people from the surrounding area were also among the guests at the commemorative ceremony.

On December 5th, 2003, the municipal council of Rüdersdorf near Berlin decided unanimously upon the initiative of Christiane Leidinger to put the grave of Johanna Elberskirchen and Hildegard Moniac under special protection. With that the grave has been declared the first so-called grave of honor for two lesbian women in the Federal Republic of Germany.

In spring 2003, the municipality unexpectedly promised the financing of two grave plaques the text of which was written by Christiane Leidinger. The grave was arranged by the municipal representative Manfred Hassemer-Tiedeken together with the Rüdersdorfian environmental working group. It was handed over to the public together with the two grave plaques on the day of the commemorative ceremony. The Event was organized and carried out by Christiane Leidinger in close co-operation with Rüdersdorfians together, in particular, with Manfred Hassemer-Tiedeken.

Those who spoke at the commemorative ceremony were:

Manfred Hassemer- Tiedeken (municipal representative of the Rüdersdorf environmental working group)

Ilse Kokula (social scientist)

Manuela Kuban (chairwoman of the Women's Association of the Mark Brandenburg and of the Aid Association for the Primary and Comprehensive School Rüdersdorf)

Jörg Lehmann (head of the regulatory agency Rüdersdorf near Berlin)

Christiane Leidinger (political scientist)

Rita Nachtigall (local SPD-chairwoman)

Dieter Nickel (contemporary witness of the non-medical practitioner Johanna Elberskirchen)

Thomas Wendt (Representative of the ministry for work, social matters, health and women of the federal state of Brandenburg)

In addition, welcoming greetings were sent to the event and read aloud by Ilse Kokula by the Archives of the German Women's Movement (Kassel, Archiv der deutschen Frauenbewegung) which is an institution holding one of the biggest stocks of the Elberskirchenian works, as well as by the two Swiss scientists Gabi Einsele and Regula Schnurrenberger (Zurich).

The actress and performance artist Jillian B. Suffner recited from the works of Johanna Elberskirchen to the topics of women's movement, suffrage, homosexuality, violence, prostitution, sexism, social democracy and critique of science.

The singer and actress Sonja Wigger took care of the musical contributions from the 1920s: she sang the „Lila Lied“ („Purple Song“), „Raus mit den Männern aus dem Reichstag“ (“Out with the men of the Reichstag”) and „Wenn die beste Freundin“ (“When the best friend”).

Christiane Leidinger (Berlin 2005)
Claudia Walther (Translation, Berlin 2005)

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