Social worker who helped rebuild social services in post-World War II Europe.
After attending a women’s college in Berlin from 1924-1927, Marianne Welter studied Child and Youth Welfare at the progressive Social Pedagogical school “Jugendheim,” from which she graduated in 1930. The school specialized in the welfare of working-class children, which corresponded well with Welter’s social democratic political affiliation. From 1930-1933 she served as assistant director at a day care center for unemployed adolescent girls in Prenzlauer Berg, a district in Berlin well-known for its socialist welfare initiatives. In Prenzlauer Berg she also met Walter Friedländer, who served as a city councilman at the time, and who later became an important contact for her in the United States.
Marianne Welter lost her job in 1933, after the National Socialists seized power, because of her political convictions. She left Germany for France, where she again worked in child welfare, co-founding and co-directing the Plessis-Robinson Home for Refugee Children in Paris. In 1939, World War II caused her to flee again and, after a long journey and stopovers in French refugee camps, she arrived in the United States in 1941.
In the United States, Marianne Welter continued her career in social work. At the recommendation of Walter Friedländer, she attended the University of Chicago to finish her undergraduate work. She then attended Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and graduated with a M.Sc. from the School of Applied Social Sciences in 1944. In 1965, she received a DSW (Doctor of Social Work) from the same institution with a dissertation on Comparison of Adopted Older Foreign and American Children.
Marianne Welter’s work focused on child welfare and foster care in the United States and in Germany. In the United States, she worked in institutions as diverse as the Riverdale Children’s Association, New York; the United States Committee for the Care of European Children, New York; the Unitarian Service Committee, Boston; the New York City Youth Board, New York; the International Social Service, American Branch, New York; and the Hudson Guild Community Center, New York. In Europe, she helped rebuild social services after the destruction of World War II. Her overseas assignments took her to Bremen, where she served as a consultant and supervisor in the training of German social workers (with varying co-sponsorships by the Unitarian Service Committee, the U.S. State Department, and the German Arbeiterwohlfahrt). In addition to applied social work and research, Welter was a faculty member at the School of Social Work at Adelphi University, Long Island, from 1965 to 1975. After her retirement, she moved to La Jolla, CA, where she continued teaching at the San Diego Institute as well as at the International College in Los Angeles, CA.