|Who is it?||Actress, Producer, Writer|
|Birth Day||January 05, 1889|
|Age||130 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||9 October 1958\nZell (Mosel), Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany|
|Occupation||Activist & politician Writer and journalist|
|Political party||SPD KPD|
|Spouse(s)||Gottlieb Reese (1880–1949)|
|Children||Harro Dagobert Reese (1923–1944)|
|Parent(s)||Anton Meyer Katharina Eis/Meyer|
Maria Meyer was born at Michelbach, a village in the hills north of Trier, on the western edge of the Prussian Rhine province. Her father, Anton Meyer, was a primary/middle school Teacher. Maria attended school locally and moved into a teachers' training college in Bonn. She took a permanent teaching post at Lüxem in her home region. Early on she came into conflict with a schools inspector who asserted that she was not qualified to do the work of a chaplain because she was female. She increasingly came to reject the Catholicism with which she had grown up, turning to politics instead. The outbreak of war and the accompanying conscription of male teachers created a desperate shortage, and she took a new teaching post at Schladt in 1914. However, after three years she found herself condemned by a military court to dismissal from the profession and a five-month prison term because she was found to have been employing French prisoners of war. By the time the war ended in 1918 she was writing that she had a yearning for socialism which "might rescue humanity from penury and misery and more war". ("...die Sehnsucht nach dem Sozialismus, der die Menschheit von Not und Elend und vor weiteren Kriegen erretten sollte.")
She joined the Social Democratic Party ("Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands" / SPD) in 1919. Between 1920 and 1924 she worked in Trier as an Editor for a newspaper called "Volkswacht", specialising in women's and youth issues.
In 1923 she married Gottlieb Reese (1880–1949), a Social Democrat Activist and a former parliamentarian in the Prussian regional legislature (Landtag). Their son Dagobert was born around this time. Extension of the French military occupation separated their home district from the rest of Germany. Maria Reese was briefly arrested. In October 1923 she followed her husband, who had already been expelled, to Hanover where they settled, and where she supported herself as a Writer.
In May 1928 Maria Reese was elected to the national parliament (Reichstag) for the South Hanover-Braunschweig electoral district. She represented, at this stage, the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Her candidature had resulted from her having been talent spotted the previous year by Gustav Noske who had been impressed by her speeches. It was also in 1928 that her marriage failed. What Noske had not anticipated was her defection in 1929 to the Communist party, and it was as a communist member that she sat as a Reichstag deputy till 1933. Her own later explanations for the defection indicate that she had found the SPD insufficiently radical, while she had, back then, been inclined to believe the intellectual case supporting the Communist Party's genuine socialist credentials, while dismissing negative reports emerging from the Soviet Union as propaganda. It does appear, in addition, that Ernst Torgler, the leader of the Communist Party group in the Reichstag, quickly identified her, among the new intake of SPD members, as a potential recruit, and worked hard to encourage her to come on over. In the Reichstag she applied her eloquence to attacking the rising Nazi Party and, in particular, the powerful current of antisemitism within it.
Between 1930 and 1932 Reese combined her work in the Reichstag with editorship of the Berlin-based magazine, "Die rote Einheitsfront" ("The Red Unity Front"). She was working closely with Clara Zetkin at this time.
She rejected an invitation to return to Moscow and, on 26 October 1933, resigned from the exiled German Communist Party. Her sharply critical resignation letter was widely reported in leftwing newspapers. "L'Humanité", the official newspaper of the French Communist Party, dismissed it as "irresponsible chit-chat". Friends tried to arrange a marriage for her in order to legalise her residence in France, but this came to nothing. Her very public resignation from the Communist Party, exacerbated by her association with Léon Trotsky's "International Group of German Communists" ("Gruppe Internationale Kommunisten Deutschlands " / IKD), placed her life in some peril from NKVD assassins in the west. She appears to have been in close contact with Trotsky, although for very good reasons, Trotsky's own precise whereabouts during this period were (and are) not generally knowable: it is known that he had removed his famous beard. On 17 November 1933 she published an open letter (incorporating a supportive preface by Léon Trotsky) to the Communist Party and to the Comintern in the magazine "Unser Work" ("Our Word"): in her letter she again distanced herself from the Stalinist version of Communism ("... von der kommunistischen Politik stalinistischer Prägung"). Her application to a Jewish Help Committee for support was rejected on the express instructions of the German Communist Party.
Shunned by Communists and harassed by the authorities in Paris, she resolved to return to Germany, relocating to the Saarland, a part of Germany which at this point was still under French military occupation. For some months she continued with her membership of the Trotskyist IKD. At the start of 1935, following a referendum, the Saarland was returned to Germany. Whether because of the changed frontiers, or because she had moved again, by this time Maria Reese was back in Germany. In the Autumn of 1934 she had attended a party at Lüxem, the little town where a quarter century earlier she had taken her first teaching job. Her return was celebrated with enthusiasm. "So much love of the home country was almost intolerable." The villagers were in the mood "to party". At the end of the evening a choir formed and burst into The Horst Wessel Song, which the Nazis has used as their "party anthem" since 1930: each of the revellers raised his/her right arm. "Suddenly I no longer knew my old intimates any more," she later wrote. Then she realised that everyone was watching her. And she "held back no longer".
After 1938 Maria Reese retreated into obscurity. There is mention of her having cared for her mother in Lüxem.
War resumed in September 1939. Tragedy struck in June 1944 when her son was shot near Kishinev for suspected desertion. A few months later his mother was informed by the military high court that this had been a mistake. Maria Reese was also one of several thousand detained by the Gestapo after the failed attempt to assassinate the leader, in a mass round up of people whose names were on Nazi files because they had been politically prominent as opponents of the Nazi Party before 1933. She survived.
Her son was shot for suspected desertion in 1944, but a few months later she received a letter from the military high court stating that this had resulted from an error. After 1945 she re-converted back to Roman Catholicism.
War ended in May 1945 and Maria Reese was detained again, this time by the French who had returned as an occupying power. Whether because of her Communist past or her status as an opportunist "employee of Dr. Goebbels", between 1946 and 1948 she was interned by the French Military government in a prison camp.
After 1948 she returned to her work as a school Teacher. She remained in or near her home "Eifel" region in the hills to the north of Trier, although she never settled in any one place for very long. In her personal life, she recovered a deep attachment to Roman Catholicism. After a succession of house moves, in 1958 she moved to Zell on the Moselle, a short distance downstream from the border with Luxembourg. On 9 October 1958, two days after moving into her new home, Maria Reese died suddenly.