Childhood and Education

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Ina Gschlössl was born Nikolaina Maria Elisabeth Gschlössl in 1898 in Cologne. Her mother was a nursery school teacher, her father an assistant postmaster. She grew up with two siblings, one brother and one sister, in the working class neighborhood of Nippes.

She was active in the Wandervogel movement as a youth leader early on. Learning interested her far more than housewife’s work. After elementary school, she attended junior and senior high at the municipal Königin Luise School where she graduated on March 4, 1918. After completing the senior high school’s teacher training program, she was certified as a teacher of French and religion in 1919.

Nothing would have stood in the way of a professionally independent life as a teacher but she wanted more. After a brief stint at the School of Social Sciences and Economics of the University of Cologne, she began pursuing a degree, first in philology and later in theology, at the University of Bonn in 1920. In 1924, she continued her undergraduate studies at the University of Marburg where she was especially influenced by the theologian, philosopher of religion and socialist Paul Tillich, with whom a close friendship soon bound her.

She was involved in founding the “Society of Female Evangelical Theologians” in 1925, which, however, merely demanded a special “women’s office” without full equality in the church. She and seven colleagues therefore left it and founded the “Association of Female Evangelical Theologians” in 1930. Unattainable for the time being, her goal was full equality of women in the office of ministry. Like her colleagues, she was additionally a member of the SPD – not uncommon for female theologians at that time.

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  • © LKA Düsseldorf, Bestand Evang. Konsistorium der Rheinprovinz B VIIa 32