Käthe Kruse Biography

  The successful doll maker Käthe Kruse was born in Breslau on September 17, 1883 as Katharina Simon. Her childhood was full of struggles but also full of motherly love. 

Her love for literature as well as exciting visits to the theatre with her aunt belong to her most precious memories of youth and awaken her wish to become an actress. After taking acting classes, at 17-years-old, she has her first appearance on stage in Berlin. She establishes herself under the pseudonym Hedda Somin. Traveling to Warsaw and Moscow with her company, the young actress soon gains status in the theatre world and financial independence.


While moving around in Berlin`s inner circle of artista and literates, she met the famous sculptor Max Kruse and fell in love. Soon, the young woman becomes a mother and dedicates her time to raising her seven children. The commercial dolls that are selling in local shops are not options for either parent. In contrast to the breakable porcelain dolls, Max and Käthe agree that their children should grow up with dolls they can love, cuddle and carry around.


Thus, in 1905 Käthe Kruse starts to make dolls for her children and five years later exhibits them in Berlin. With two big orders from the United States, Käthe Kruse founds her own doll company in Bad Kösen. 


At that time, the title "saleswoman" had not yet been coined so Käthe Kruse calls herself a `female salesman´ and leads her company with skill, creativity and the right amount of authority to a woldwide success. Already in her beginning years she places countless newspaper articles and advertisements in national and international magazines, publishes catalogs and sends out mailings of postcards.


As traveling saleswoman, she contacts her clients personally and succeeds in raising seven children. Her participation at the Gent World Fair in 1913 and the Paris World Fair in 1937 are highlights in the company´s history. 


After the Second World War, Käthe Kruse secures purchase and export possibilities by opening workshops in the West as additions to the main facility in Bad Kösen in the Soviet Zone. She holds on to Bad Kösen until 1950.


The eventual dispossession and conversion to a VEB (nationally owned business) results in a operation in the Bavarian town of Donauwörth, where Käthe Kruse dolls are still produced today.


In 1951, Kruse published her biography and looked back on many years of success and struggle. In 1956, Käthe Kruse was honored with the First Class Federal Cross of Merit Award and handed over her business to her children - she was over 70 years old. On July 9, 1968 Käthe Kruse died shortly before her 85th birthday.