Origins and Academic Career

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Katharina Staritz was born on July 25, 1903 in Breslau, the first child of Carl Staritz a high school natural science teacher, and his wife Margarethe, née Ismer. The atmosphere in her parental home was affectionate, liberal and middle class intellectual. Above all teachers, Gretel Ohlmann, the director of a girls’ Bible study group and Heinrich Lonicer, a liberal theologian and pastor at St. John’s Church in Breslau, rather than her parental home influenced her theological and ecclesiastical career.

Her parents initially disapproved of her desire to study theology because of the uncertain prospects for a career. After graduating from high school, she therefore began studying German, history and religion at the University of Breslau in 1922. Hans von Soden, a professor with whom she became friends, finally managed to change her parents’ opinion. She switched to a degree program in Protestant theology at Philipps University in Marburg in 1926. She earned her degree from the School of Protestant Theology in 1928, becoming the first woman to earn a doctorate there. She received the title of licentiate, the customary academic degree Grad for doctorates in theology at that time.

Apart from Hans von Soden, her most influential teachers of theology included the New Testament scholar Ernst Lohmeyer and Rudolf Bultmann. She did not come into contact with Karl Barth’s theology until the Theological Declaration of Barmen of 1934 and the onset of the Kirchenkampf., In particular, the issue of what was actually “Christian” in the early transitions from Judaism and Christianity and other Late Antique religions had occupied her while studying theology. This question took on even more topicality once again later with the Nazis’ persecution of Jews. This was the contemporaneous background for her pursuit of Oriental und Islam studies on her own alongside her job as city vicar in Breslau as of 1938.

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  • © Ev. Zentralarchiv in Berlin, Best. 7 Nr. 14163

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