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Hedwig Voegt (28 July 1903, Hamburg, German Empire - 14 March 1988, Leipzig, Eastern Germany) was a German literary scholar who obtained a doctorate in German-Jacobin literature when she was 49 and became a university professor at Leipzig University.
While she was a younger woman, modest family circumstances ruled out an academic career. During the 1920s she worked for the post office in Hamburg as a telegrapher and became a political activist (KPD), serving at least three prison terms during the twelve Nazi years because of her resistance to the régime.
Hedwig Therese Dorothea Henriette Voegt was born in the central Hamburg quarter of St. Pauli. Her father was a plumber. Despite her obvious intelligence, she received only basic schooling before moving on to train for clerical work in the dispatches department of the Hamburg Telegraph Union. She moved on again, in 1920, to work for the . In 1925 Hedwig Voegt joined the Communist Party. She took up journalism, writing as Labour Correspondent for the , a local communist party newspaper. She also produced the illegal works newspaper of the Hamburg telephone office. By the later 1920s she had found a clear purpose in the need to resist the seemingly unstoppable rise of populist demagoguery, which her journalistic contributions enabled her to fulfill.
In the Autumn of 1931, as Germany's political crisis intensified, Hedwig Voegt was arrested in connection with her political activity for the first time. In January 1933 the political backdrop was transformed when the Nazi Party took power and converted Germany into a one-party dictatorship. Political activity - except in support of the Nazi Party - became illegal. At the end of February the Reichstag fire was instantly blamed on the Communists, and in March 1933 leading Communists began to be arrested or fled into exile. On 12 September 1933 Voegt was released from her job with the post office as a consequence of the recently enacted "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" ("Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums"), a law designed to remove from public service those individuals whom the régime deemed unreliable for reasons of race and / or politics. This gave her more time for her (now illegal) work for the Communist Party.
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