Benita Koch-Otte: Living and Weaving at the Bauhaus

Benita Koch-Otte: Living and Weaving at the Bauhaus
Bauhaus Face April 2012

Benita Koch-Otte was born on 23 May 1892 in Stuttgart. After receiving her certificate of eligibility for university entrance in 1908 at the Lyceum in Krefeld, she passed the State Drawing Teacher Examination at the Drawing Seminar in Dusseldorf in 1913. In 1914, she passed the State Examination as a Gymnastics Teacher at the Women’s Educational Association of Frankfurt a.M. and the State Examination as a Handicraft Teacher at the Lettehaus in Berlin. Benita Otte used this extensive training from 1915 to 1920 as a teacher for drawing, physical education and handicraft at the Municipal Secondary School for Girls in Uerdingen/Rh. She left this institute in favour of studies at the Bauhaus. Until 1925, she was initially a student here and then an employee of the weaving workshop. Together with Gunta Stölzl, Benita Koch-Otte was among the most gifted female students of the weaving mill at the Bauhaus. Among other things, both of them attended courses at the Dyeing Technical School and the Textile Technical School in Krefeld in order to further their training and teach the new techniques to their classmates in Weimar.

Heinrich Koch, Portrait Benita Koch-Otte, 1920er Jahre

Heinrich Koch, Portrait Benita Koch-Otte, 1920er Jahre

Küche im Haus am Horn, Weimar, 1923

From 1925 to 1933, Benita Koch directed the weaving department at the workshops of the City of Halle, State-Municipal School of Applied Arts at Burg Giebichenstein. In 1929, she once again met Heinrich Koch. He had trained at the Bauhaus from 1922 to 1927 in areas such as the workshop for murals and had most recently been the director of the photography department at Burg Giebichenstein. They married that same year.

After the National Socialists seized power, they were both dismissed from their teaching positions and relocated to Prague. In 1934, Heinrich Koch had a fatal accident there and Benita Koch-Otte returned to Germany during that same year. She found a new assignment and a new home at the Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel. She became the director of the weaving mill, passed the corresponding Master Craftsman Examination in 1937 at the Bielefeld Chamber of Crafts and continued to teach after her retirement in 1957. In 1969, Benita Koch-Otte moved to the von-Plettenberg Foundation in Bielefeld and died there at the age of 83 years in 1976.