Epic Foreigner Fail, or what Käte Hamburger Kollege actually means

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May 9, 2013 by anelim

Silly me and my weak knowledge of German. The institute in which I work this year is one of the 15 international research colleges in Germany. I’m so embarrassed I hesitated about writing this online, but hey, perhaps not knowing German that well, not knowing anything about the academic history of Germany, and not having read this written explicitly anywhere are sufficient excuses… So: I’ve finally read _slowly_ the description of my institute and figured out that it’s not “one of the 15 Hamburg research colleges which for some reason are also known as Käte Kollegen” (what I would have told you ten minutes ago). While, sadly, I discovered that it has nothing to do with the northern German city of Hamburg which I like very much, I also found out that it is instead linked to a prominent – and female – German professor from the early 20th century. Käte Hamburger, a Germanist, literary scholar and philosopher, earned her doctorate in 1922 in Munich and became a professor at the University of Stuttgart, and following her expulsion due to her Jewish heritage, she immigrated to Sweden in 1934 and returned to Germany from her exile only in 1956. Her wikipedia page doesn’t mention anything about the Kollegen, either! No photo of her, either.

I really wish someone had mentioned this somewhere. What if my foreign brain had never put two and two together? I didn’t even know that Käte was a female name, by the way. It suddenly feels more exciting to be hosted by an institution named after a formidable inspirational figure – especially a female one from a time when women in science were rare. And here are some books Frau Professor K. Hamburger authored http://www.amazon.com/K%C3%A4te-Hamburger/e/B001HOKOJU.

The cover of "Das Midglied" by Käte Hamburger

The cover of “Das Midglied” by Käte Hamburger

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