Agnes Karll was a pioneer of Ger­man nur­sing.DBfK

Fact #1

Agnes Karll was born 25th March 1868, the third child of a fami­ly of esta­te owners in Emb­sen in the Lüne­burg Heath. At 14, she began trai­ning as a tea­cher in Schwe­rin and, from 1884, also star­ted working in this pro­fes­si­on. She met the femi­nist Johan­na Will­born, who gave her a new per­spec­ti­ve on life. Karll was not hap­py as a tea­cher and, in 1887, began to train as a nur­se at the ‚Cle­men­ti­nen­haus‘ in Hano­ver, which belon­ged to the Red Cross. Here, she found the field of work that would defi­ne the rest of her life.

Fact #2

Agnes Karll’s trai­ning was pro­gres­sing to a high stan­dard, but Karll quick­ly rea­li­sed that nur­ses were bad­ly off and pro­fes­sio­nal­ly unor­ga­ni­zed. Nur­sing was seen as an act of cha­ri­ty, which should be car­ri­ed out for free. The working hours were long – over 20 hours a day – the­re were no breaks, no holi­days, and nur­ses had a poor diet. The trai­ning was unre­gu­la­ted and the­re was no social insuran­ce. As a result, Agnes Karll tur­ned to pri­va­te nur­sing, moved to Ber­lin, and even­tual­ly accom­pa­nied someo­ne to the USA, whe­re she came to know and appre­cia­te Ame­ri­can nur­sing con­di­ti­ons. Howe­ver, the chal­len­ges of pri­va­te nur­sing pushed her strength to the limit.

Fact #3

In 1902, Agnes Karll, tog­e­ther with a group of other femi­nists, deci­ded to beco­me poli­ti­cal­ly acti­ve and found a pro­fes­sio­nal asso­cia­ti­on for nur­ses. A year later, the time had come: the „Berufs­or­ga­ni­sa­ti­on der Kran­ken­pfle­ge­rin­nen Deutsch­lands” (B.O.K.D) – ‘Pro­fes­sio­nal Asso­cia­ti­on of Ger­man Nur­ses’ – was born. Ano­t­her year later in July 1903, Eng­land, the USA, and Ger­ma­ny foun­ded the Inter­na­tio­nal Coun­cil of Nur­ses (ICN) in Ber­lin, which Agnes Karll joi­ned along with her 300-strong B.O.K.D. In 1906, the first B.O.K.D. maga­zi­ne, Unterm Laza­rus­kreuz, came out, and the first sta­tu­to­ry nur­se trai­ning began in Prus­sia. Then, in 1909, Agnes Karll beca­me pre­si­dent of the ICN.

Fact #4

Agnes Karll died of can­cer on 12th Febru­a­ry 1927, aged 59. The B.O.K.D., which had tem­pora­ri­ly been ban­ned by the Nazis, con­ti­nued to be influ­en­ti­al after the war and remains influ­en­ti­al to this day through the DBfK (Ger­man Nur­sing Asso­cia­ti­on). The same is true of Karll’s achie­ve­ments: nur­sing has beco­me a respec­ted pro­fes­si­on, nur­ses are paid a sala­ry, have regu­la­ted working hours, and have social insuran­ce. The pro­cess of pro­fes­sio­na­li­sing nur­sing, which Karll hel­ped to set in moti­on, con­ti­nues to this day.

Fact #5

Agnes Karll gave her name to the Insti­tu­te for Nur­sing Rese­arch in Ber­lin (AKI), to cli­nics (e.g. in Bad Schwartau and Laat­zen) and nur­sing schools. The­re are also streets and nur­sing homes named after her. Fur­ther­mo­re, the DBfk has awar­ded the ‘Agnes Karll Pri­ze’ several times.