What began as women’s studies 50 years ago was more of a niche topic at the Catholic University of Regensburg. Only when Marietheres List, the first artistic director of a public house in Germany, was appointed to head the Stadttheater in 1988 and Christa Meier, the first mayor of a Bavarian city, was elected to this office in 1990, did Regensburg ask about the women in its history.
In university seminars and working groups at adult education centres, women conducted women’s studies. Mayor Meier commissioned the city archives to research the history of women and present it in an exhibition. “Frauengeschichte(n)” showed the everyday life of women in many centuries of city history and portrayed role models: Women who exemplified an economic, social, political or scientific path to the emancipation of their gender. However, this came too late for the new street names of one of the largest development areas in Germany, the Regensburg Burgweinting building area. In the first construction phase, the street names are reminiscent of well-known figures such as the artist Käthe Kollwitz or the resistance fighter Sophie Scholl. It would take some time before women’s names from one’s own regional history could be remembered collectively. After all, in 2016 the city council decided to dedicate a street in the Burgweinting Nordwest III section to Julie von Zerzog – one of the women from Regensburg in the Danube Women Stories.
The story of Luise Händlmaier tells the story of how a typical female side business turned into a highly profitable main business.
Luise Händlmaier (bron Sichart) was born on 13 November 1910 in Landau an der Isar. On 31 October 1933 she married Joseph Karl Händlmaier and thus into a respected Regensburg butcher family. While her father-in-law took care of the meat, her mother-in-law experimented with Canadian mustard seeds, water, sugar, spirit vinegar and spices. When the junior took over the business in 1949, the roles remained the same. Luise took care of the mustard.
The second generation expanded. After the death of her husband in 1955, Luise ran the butcher’s shop alone with six branches. Especially at the slaughterhouse, the male economy got on her nerves. One day – she was on the road with the butcher’s cook and long-time confidant Resi Lorbert – she said: “Do you know what? – Now I’ll stop with the butcher and then we’ll start with the mustard.”
In 1963 Luise sold her butcher’s shops and started producing mustard. In 1964 she founded the company “Luise Händlmaier”, refined the recipe of her mother-in-law, produced ever larger quantities with helpers and developed the product into a brand. “Luise Händlmaier” now stood for the “sweet” with the red label. In 1965 the entrepreneur won Milchwerke as her distribution partner for the supply of 400 food markets. From the Regensburger Gesandtenstraße, the sweet homemade mustard continued to draw more and more circles. Until a few months before her death, the boss herself stood at the mustard pots and helped with labelling. In 1981, the mustard manufacturer died at the age of 70.
Luise’s daughter Christa Aumer continued the business in the parent company in Regensburger Gesandtenstraße 17 until the 1990s. The classic Händlmaier brand is still produced in the family business today. Up to 60 tons of mustard leave the production facility in Haslbach near Regensburg every day. The market share in the sweet mustard sector in Germany is 79.8 percent.
Julie von Zerzog’s charitable commitment is ideal for middle-class and aristocratic women of the 19th century. In her sewing and knitting school she enabled girls to contribute to family support by selling their handicrafts.
Born in 1799 in one of the richest families in Regensburg, Julie grew up in today’s Thon-Dittmer-Palais. Grandfather Georg Friedrich von Dittmer had earned well with the trade of salt, wines and mining products.
Julie was taught by a tutor and followed her brothers’ studies. From her correspondence with the former Bavarian minister Count Maximilian Joseph von Montgelas speaks an exceptionally large cultural, economic, social and political interest for women of her generation.
At 28 she married Adolf von Zerzog, a later member of the Frankfurt National Assembly, moved to the countryside with him, gave birth to eight children, returned to Regensburg in 1844 and became involved in charity. In 1847 Julie joined the “Frauenverein zur Unterstützung armer Wöchnerinnen”. Later she pursued her own plan: a sewing and knitting school for poor girls. To finance it, she wrote an art historical description of the town hall. The first edition appeared in 1848. After two years she had sold so many copies that lessons could begin “with twelve poor girls”. By selling handicrafts they were able to contribute to the livelihood of their families. The bobbin lace in particular was in great demand and was awarded a prize at the industrial exhibition in Munich. An average of 90 children were taught free of charge each year, while Julie von Zerzog continued to run the school in Regensburg until around 1860.
Julie von Zerzog spent the rest of her life with her husband on his family estate Gut Nairitz near Bayreuth. She died there on 24 January 1871, but spent most of her life in the Palais at Haidplatz 8. Since 2016, Julie-von-Zerzog-Straße has existed in Regensburg’s Burgweinting district.