Nikolaina Gschlössl

Ina Gschlössl came from a simple family in Cologne; her father was an assistant postmaster, her mother a nursery school teacher. Although she resided in the working class neighborhood of Nippes, the bright and exceedingly gifted child managed to attend the municipal Königin Luise School where she earned her high school degree in 1920. Even though her degree was also the equivalent of a teaching certificate, she decided to continue studying, first, social sciences at the University of Cologne and, then, philology at the University of Bonn. In 1922, she changed to theology, even though there were no opportunities for her to work for the church at that time. In May of 1924, she resumed her undergraduate studies at the University of Marburg where she studied under Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich, among others. She got to know some other female theology students there, with whom she founded the “Association of Female Evangelical Theologians” in 1930. Unlike the existing “Society of Female Evangelical Theologians”, this organization demanded the full pastoral office for women.

After graduating in 1927, she briefly started a vicarage at the Carthusian Church with Georg Fritze, a Religious Socialist, but the city of Cologne already hired her as full-time vocational school teacher in November. She joined the SPD around 1928. In 1932, she made extremely critical remarks about National Socialism in an anthology of statements from the church sphere: She denounced its idolatry of blood and racial ideology.

In the summer of 1933, she was dismissed from her job as a vocational teacher for making inappropriate remarks about Reich Chancellor Hitler in religion class. Since she was unable to find any new job, Gschlössl taught handicapped children and worked as a nanny for a Jewish family. On January 1, 1938, she was hired as a social worker in the church district of Cologne, a job arranged by Pastor Hans Encke; among other things, she acted as a guardian and ministered to prisoners.

After the war’s end, she reorganized the vocational school curriculum in Cologne. In 1949, Gschlössl was appointed head of Protestant religious education at vocational schools in Cologne, a job she performed until 1966. She died in Neusäss near Augsburg in 1987.

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