Goethe, Schiller, Lessing: Hardly any street names in Germany – politics


From red / dpa

Nationwide, far fewer streets and public spaces are named after women than men. Meanwhile, the policy is trying to create more equality – without clear success.

Nationwide, far fewer streets and public spaces are named after women than men. Photo: dpa / Sven Hoppe

Nationwide, far fewer streets and public spaces are named after women than men.

Photo: dpa / Sven Hoppe

Munich – While in Katharina-von-Bora-Strabe and Sophienstrabe, for example, female names hardly ever appeared on streets and squares – and thus there was a lack of appreciation for and memory of achievements by women in public spaces , At the moment, it does not matter whether you are looking for female street names in a small Bavarian town or European city. The imbalance is blatant – Goethe, Schiller, Lessing and Co. can be found in countless municipalities. But even if the vast majority of the infrastructure is still named after men: Things are starting to get busy.

Recently, the CSU in Munich demanded greater consideration of female names. In 2004, the state capital had decided to include more women in the allocation of street names. Although names of women were increasingly taken in the following years, the imbalance remained.

To be dead for at least a year

The topic is of particular relevance, as the city states that a street designation is "the highest form of personal honoring by the state capital of Munich". A person who will receive this honor in the state capital must be dead for at least one year. Proposals are usually made by city councils or entire political groups, members of district committees, or private individuals.

The problem seems to be recognized and accepted as such. But according to the city of Munich mostly men are proposed for this. Only in September, the municipal committee decided to name six new streets: of these, only two were named after female personalities: concert pianist Clara Schumann (1819-1896) and the painter, musician and author Maria Arndts (1823-1882).

Even in Franconia, people are aware of the topic: in Nuremberg, the city council factions of the CSU and SPD last year called on the city administration to name more streets for women in the future. The city council encouraged city council groups to submit more female proposals on their own.

Women are underrepresented

However, the male-dominated street scene is not limited to Bavaria. Women are underrepresented nationwide in naming public space. The city of Bremen has therefore acted and decided that all streets in a development area should be named after women.

That the topic is also explosive abroad shows the view, for example, to France. In Paris, activists took the problem into their own hands in 2015. After it became known that only 2.5 percent of street names in the French capital bore the name of women, critics pasted street names and replaced them with the names of women.

The naming of streets and public squares is a controversial topic not only because of the gender imbalance: there are always discussions about streets that are named after historically problematic figures or events. Be it names with colonial references, names of Nazi criminals or persons who embody a difficult historical legacy.

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