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Sex & Society in Postwar Germany - Essay Example

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Sex & Society in Postwar Germany

Street walkers and female taxi drivers were available for the pleasure of visiting Westerners, too.
On May 6, 1933, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Institute of Sex Research. A few days later the Institute's library and archives were publicly hauled out and burned in the streets of the Opernplatz. Around 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. Also seized were the Institute's extensive lists of names and addresses of LGBT people. In the midst of the burning, Joseph Gobbles gave a political speech to a crowd of around 40,000 people.
Hitler initially protected Rohm from other elements of the Nazi Party which held his homosexuality to be a violation of the party's strong anti-gay policy. However, Hitler later changed course when he perceived Rohm to be a potential threat to his power. During the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, a purge of those who Hitler deemed threats to his power took place. He had Rohm murdered and used Rohm's homosexuality as a justification to subside outrage within the ranks of the SA. After solidifying his power, Hitler would include gay men among those sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Careful attention to the history of sexuality prompts us to reconsider how we per iodize twentieth-century German history; it changes our interpretation of ruptures and continuities across the conventional divides of 1918, 1933, 1945, 1968, and 1989. Consideration of the history of sexuality and insistence on integrating the history of sexuality with more traditional topics of historiography can also challenge our assumptions about key social and political transformations and provide new insights into a broad array of crucial phenomena. To neglect the history of sexuality, for example, is also to fail to care about the content or force of anti-Semitism both during the Weimar Republic and in the early years of the Third Reich. Similarly, if we set sex aside as irrelevant, we lose opportunities to comprehend the extraordinary appeal of Nazism both to those Germans who sought the restoration of conservative family values and to those who benefited from Nazism's loosening of conventional mores. Nor can processes of popular secularization or religious renewal be understood without attention to the history of sexuality. Likewise, to disregard conflicts over sexuality is to risk misunderstanding the extensive emotional repercussions of Germans' military and ideological defeat in World War II, and its consequences especially for German manhood. Perhaps most significantly, to treat sexual issues as marginal is also to miss how the postwar Federal Republic of Germany, in striving to be incorporated into the Cold War West, was able to manipulate the memory of Nazism and to redirect moral debate away from the problem of complicity in mass murder and toward a narrowed conception of morality as solely concerned with sex.

Sexual politics functioned as a main locus for recurrent reconstructions of the memory and meanings of Nazism. Because the reworking of sexual mores had been such an important feature of the Third Reich, attempts to come to terms with the legacies of fascism in Germany could not help but address sexual matters. No less pertinent a factor, however, was the unexpected revival of Christian authority in the ...Show more

Summary

INTRODUCTION & THEME: During the Nazi era, street prostitutes were seen as degenerate and were often sent to concentration camps. Between 1942 and 1945, ten such camps, including Auschwitz, contained brothels, mainly used to reward cooperative inmates. Prostitutes were forced to work there.
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Sex & Society in Postwar Germany essay example
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