Today I had to slow down a bit and rested, read, did some writing, and enjoyed the lovely Hotel Morganland on Finkensteinstrasse in south Berlin.
I spoke with the current director of the Morgenlandische Frauen Mission and learned that currently the society has only fifteen members. Otherwise this property of the old society, originally intended as housing for returning missionaries, was taken over by the Lutheran church and converted into a hotel since the 1997.. The society continues to meet regularly to discuss missions in the world and support a few causes.
Originally, however, the society, was a school for training women for the mission field in India, Africa, Indonesia and China. They hosted regular Missionsfests, where people would learn about work being done in other countries. The Frauenmission followed the model of the first European women's society, the London Society for promoting of female education in the East, established in 1834. It sent self-employed unmarried teachers to mission work.
The German missionary Bernhardt Schmidt, who in 1842 had come from India to Berlin, gave moving mission talks in churches about the unhappy life and death of Indian women and girls (in particular the practice of Sathi, or wife burning at pyre of the dead husband.) This horrified the German audience. Ten women gathered together to find out what could be done, and began the Oriental Woman's Society of Berlin. With the leadership of the wife of the former Minister of Culture, Frau Eichhorn, the. mission began against all odds. They were breaking from the norms that viewed women as subjects of their husband, meant to stay at home. While at this same time some women were receiving education to be teachers and nurses, the view was that this was only necessary due to decades of war. It was the duty of women to strengthen the German home and homeland, not to go help the heathens abroad. Through the husbands of the founders, the Kaiser provided some initial support and soon various Baronesses found this society as an outlet for their interests in the Orient and religion.
I had thought this old building (above) near the old Lichtenfeld station (below) was the location where Doris Hahn had gone in 1906 to enroll her daughter, Guschi, in the school. This is where going to the actual location is helpful. in talking to the director I learned that this old building began to be used in 1920. Earlier they had met in someone's home. So Doris most likely went (see selection from diary below) to west Berlin on Alt Moabit Strasse (top of this post). I will try to go see where it might be later on.
For those of you interested in reading further an excerpt from Doris' diary written in 1906, that started me on this journey to learn about the Morgenlandische Frauenmission:
Feb 4 1906 she writes:
"A while ago, I went with Guschi to Miss v. Buddenbrock, chair of the Morgenländischen Women’s Association, to inquire about a possibility of Guschi becoming an aspirant in her home and possibly be sent out to India in the fall. We got this idea from Pastor Römer, who informed us that the association would again connect with our mission and also send teachers to Chota Nagpur, who would be amenable to us. How wonderful it would be if Guschi would get employment with the mission in this way and could later stand on her own two feet! We did not have much hope, to be sure. But the old Baroness was very nice and suggested Guschi should send in her papers so that they could discuss the matter at their next meeting. “Then we will see how this matter will develop.”
On February 7:
Yesterday went with Papa to Miss von Buddenbrock for coffee hour 6-7 pm. Kind and stimulating conversation on all kinds of subjects, personal and wider interests, especially, naturally also, about Guschi’s possible acceptance into the association, etc. In as far as the old Baroness and her co-worker, an elderly single lady who seems to be her right hand, are concerned, nothing is standing in the way. “Your dear child has made a good impression on me”. That was encouraging. Now, we have to wait what the treasurer and the other ladies will say. May the Lord lead it all after his gracious counsel and will!"
Then again on Feb 21:
"My main visit however was with Miss Helene v. Stülpnagel, second presiding officer of the Oriental Women’s Association, who will be henceforth Guschi’s superior. Papa had already told us about her, that she was an energetic, thorough and, in the Mission, long admired lady. And I found her just like that. What questions she could ask! And what all did I have to tell her! About each one of our children, and especially about Guschi, about ourselves and our life: she wanted to hear and know everything! Yet not in an unpleasant way. I feel drawn to her, in spite of the great intellectual difference of which I am conscious. Still, we were sympathetic to each other and understood each other."
And I was able to express with full conviction how thankful we are, that “our child” was allowed to enter such an association that is being led by her and Miss von Buddenbrock. She dismissed me with the wish that this will become a very blessed relationship which we have now begun. May the Lord help with that!"
[I cannot thank my father's cousin Pastor Ilse Nottrott Peetz enough for translating the diary]