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Wera Wagenschein

1899 - 1988

Wera Wagenschein was born on March 13, 1899 in Greifswald. Before her father, Magnus Biermer, was appointed to the Giessen university by Ernst Ludwig, Hessian grand duke, in 1900, he had been a professor at the philosophical department of Greifswald university.
Her elder sister was of quite different a character, so she grew up indirectly like a single child.
Early (1913) she lost her beloved father. As much as possible she evaded school. If not her body, at least her mind was sent its own ways by her.
She was much talented by art and loved music. Being near a perfect pianist, she could not perform it professionally as she came from a 'distinguished family'. Instead of this she became an au-pair girl with another family of that kind where she especially dealt with their children. (She had had her own nurse and kept a life-long tender friendship with her).
After becoming familiar with Martin Wagenschein, they married before -in May 1924- going to the Odenwaldschule by the Geheebs. Her life long she accompanied her husband's work, being the 'best reviewer of my work' as he told me once. Thus he dedicated to her his first book as well as the big anthology 'Urspruengliches Verstehen und exaktes Denken' "I dedicate this book to my wife, keeping and guarding her filial mind who accompanied my working understanding and scrutinizing lasting for decades."
Few people were aware of her own writing. One of his intimate students once told me that he (in 1960) had been at the Wagenscheins and she was sitting by her kitchen table, writing. On the remark of Martin Wagenschein "Yes, she tries writing" he went to the state library in Darmstadt where she indeed was represented by the book "Ein Kind erzaehlt" (the two others are "Oelbergsommer" and "Suedliche Insel").
Wera Wagenschein and her companion were gifted with a long life in togertherness, though the end was tiring. (He died in April, followed by her on July 23, 1988). After his death she settled the last things to be settled, packaged the things of heritage, wrote letters - in steady fear that her strength would not be enough until she was really exhausted.
Hannelore Eisenhauer

Addendum 2014: A more detailed description (sorry, it is in German) written by our helper Anna Ponath may be downloaded here (PDF).