Short Portrait: Hildegard Klein

Hildegard Klein
Hildegard Klein

Hildegard Klein was born in East Prussia in 1907 and grew up in a rural surrounding. After primary school and grammar school she attended a business school for a year and eventually worked in the agricultural association of her home region.

In 1929 Klein took up her studies of Economics both in Königsberg (now: Kaliningrad) and Frankfurt/Main. After receiving her diploma, Klein did a practical year at several economic colleges in East Prussia.

In 1933 Klein became the secretary of Leo Frobenius at the Institute for Cultural Morphology (now: Frobenius-Institute) in Frankfurt/Main. She was responsible for a large number of tasks including organizational work as well as translations, library duties and research activities. Moreover, Klein became one of the many students of Leo Frobenius.

In 1938 Klein took up a position at the Anthropological Museum (now: Museum for the Cultures of the World) in Frankfurt. Moreover, she became editor of the anthropological journal "Paideuma" in 1943. Due to the bombing in World War II Klein was also responsible for saving the collections values. 

She participated at the first meeting of German anthropologists after WW II (Frankfurt/Main, 19.-21.09.1946). After the end of World War II Klein completed her Ph D thesis in Economics, which is concerned with the financial systems in Western Africa. Eventually she took up an assistant position at the Frobenius-Institute, where she played an important role throughout the following years.

Klein retired in 1969. She nonetheless kept working at the Frobenius-Institute until the 1980s, editing the Congo diaries of Leo Frobenius.

Hildegard Klein died in Frankfurt in 1989.


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