They were ordinary people who risked everything but remained mostly unknown – like Mannheim citizen Klara Kaus. Klara Kaus, born in 1903, was not a politically active enemy of the Nazi regime. In 1943, however, she offered to take in Ellen, a young Jewish woman from Karlsruhe, and protected her from the Nazis. Ellen, who was 14 years old at the time, moved into Klara Kaus’ apartment in Mannheim, although the two did not know each other. For two years, Klara Kaus protected Ellen and shared her ration stamps with her. Even after Klara Kaus’ apartment was destroyed by a bomb, she took Ellen with her into a new, smaller apartment. It took the public several decades to acknowledge what Klara Kaus had done for Ellen: In 1973, she received the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz). One year later, she was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Stories like the story of Klara Kaus are part of the interdisciplinary seminar on the resistance to Nazism in the German-language edition of Wikipedia (“Der Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus in der deutschen Wikipedia“) at the University of Mannheim. The concept of the seminar was developed by Dr. Maja Linthe, researcher in German Studies, and Professor Angela Borgstedt, Professor of History. In the tandem seminar, students of both subjects teamed up in pairs to write Wikipedia articles about exceptional citizens who are still unknown to the public but who dared to defy the Nazi regime.
For more information on the project and to read blog entries of the authors, please click here.
Wikipedia entry on Klara Kaus (in German).