Clara Zetkin was celebrated in both Germany and the Soviet Union before World War II because of her active involvement in the communist movement. She wrote prolifically and preached the virtues of socialism. She concerned herself particularly with women's needs, arguing that women would respond best to a different form of agitation than that used among men. Zetkin asserted that communism was the only way to respond to women's concerns as mothers and that only state involvement in domestic life would allow women to be fully emancipated. Women needed freedom from household work and increased training and support to aid them as workers, and Zetkin's writings centered on these principles. The Bolshevik Revolution proved to Zetkin that communism rescued women from the oppression of capitalism. The Soviet model showed that women could find protection for themselves and their children through state intervention. In addition, communism provided a female proletariat with increased employment opportunities and training. While bourgeois women's movements spread through Europe, Zetkin emphasized that true liberation came only through communism. For Zetkin, communism as found in Soviet Russia in the 1920s brought women equality not just in theory but also in practice. Zetkin's periodical Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale (1921-1925) included articles that emphasized the Soviet system for aiding women. These articles supported Zetkin's belief that communism would benefit women by lightening their burdens. Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale established a forum in which communist women throughout the world could hear news from movements in countries other than their own. By including discussion of the Soviet model in her periodical, Zetkin sought to convince women of the virtues of joining Soviet Russia in worldwide revolution rather than succumbing to the empty promises of capitalist nations. Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale, however, presented statistics, accounts, and promises that conflicted with reality. Historians have shown that the Soviets never fully developed institutions that would emancipate women from housework and grant them the equality Zetkin and her followers desired. The Soviet model portrayed in Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale was optimistic but, nevertheless, illustrated what Zetkin anticipated her female readers dreamed for themselves.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Sproat, Liberty Peterson, "How Soviet Russia Liberated Women: The Soviet Model in Clara Zetkin's Periodical 'Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale'" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1450.
communism, women, Germany, Soviet, Russia, Clara Zetkin, Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale