Episode 8: Nazi Punks Fuck Off, Pt 1: Magnus Hirschfeld

In this first part of a two-part series (so far!) of episodes dedicated to badass queer nazi fighters from our history, we dove into the fascinating life of Doctor Magnus Hirschfeld, the so-called "Einstein of sex." His approach to sexuality, gender, and race was decades ahead of the likes of Alfred Kinsey and Harry Benjamin, and who knows where society would be had his research not been destroyed. So come join us as we say, "Nazi punks, fuck off!" 

A Look at Magnus Hirschfeld

 The einstein of sex, and such a snappy dresser, too!

The einstein of sex, and such a snappy dresser, too!

 Dat gay book nerd life, yo. we get it, magnus. same.

Dat gay book nerd life, yo. we get it, magnus. same.

Some clips from Hirschfeld's 1919 film "Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others)":

 Hirschfeld with two "Cross-dressers" (as they are labeled in this photo by the new yorker) outside the institute of sex

Hirschfeld with two "Cross-dressers" (as they are labeled in this photo by the new yorker) outside the institute of sex

 lili elbe and her nurse, after lili's successful srs surgery at hirschfeld's institute of sex

lili elbe and her nurse, after lili's successful srs surgery at hirschfeld's institute of sex

 A 1907 political cartoon depicting Hirschfeld as ‘Hero of the Day,’ drumming up support for the abolition of Paragraph 175 of the German penal code that criminalized homosexuality. The banner reads, ‘Away with Paragraph 175!’ The caption reads, ‘The foremost champion of the third sex!’ – US Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archives

A 1907 political cartoon depicting Hirschfeld as ‘Hero of the Day,’ drumming up support for the abolition of Paragraph 175 of the German penal code that criminalized homosexuality. The banner reads, ‘Away with Paragraph 175!’ The caption reads, ‘The foremost champion of the third sex!’ –US Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archives

Rise of the Third Reich and the destruction of Hirschfeld's research, personal library, and the legacy of the Institute of Sex

 Nazis ransacking hirschfeld's personal library of materials

Nazis ransacking hirschfeld's personal library of materials

One of the most absolutely frustrating things we knew going in to this, and becoming even more infuriated by as we researched, is that not only did the Nazis burn and destroy nearly all of the research, papers, libraries, and tangible knowledge and work done and discovered by the Institute of Sex, but that we've all seen evidence of it happening under our noses for many many years. 

If you have ever learned anything about the Holocaust in a class, or seen a film, featuring newsreel footage or photos of the Nazi book burnings, you have seen this scene or shot below. And we'd be willing to bet: you were never told that this footage is of Nazi stormtroopers destroying the sexology research on homosexuality, gender identity, and human behavior by Magnus Hirschfeld, were you? Even the context of theliteral act of destruction of our history has been lost, glossed over, erased. We were burned and destroyed, and never even taught about it.

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 The pink triangle, a symbol which originated with hate and ostracization, marking our community in victimhood, now reclaimed. We think magnus hirschfeld would be proud. 

The pink triangle, a symbol which originated with hate and ostracization, marking our community in victimhood, now reclaimed. We think magnus hirschfeld would be proud. 

If you want to learn more about Magnus Hirschfeld, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!

Online Articles:

Books and Print Articles:

  • Heike Baur, The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture
  • Robert Beachy, Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity
  • Ralf Dose, Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation Movement
  • Charlotte Wolff, Magnus Hirschfeld: A Portrait of a Pioneer in Sexology
  • Kate Fisher and Jana Funke, “Let Us Leave the Hospital; Let Us Go on a Journey around the World”: British And German Sexual Science And The Global Search For Sexual Variation in A Global History of Sexual Science, 1880–1960
  • Not Straight From Germany: Sexual Publics and Sexual Citizenship since Magnus Hirschfeld, edited by Michael Thomas Taylor, Annette F. Timm, and Rainer Herrn
  • Jane Caplan, “The Administration of Gender Identity in Nazi Germany” in History Workshop Journal vol. 72 (2011).
  • Katie Sutton, “"We Too Deserve a Place in the Sun": The Politics of Transvestite Identity in Weimar Germany” in German Studies Review vol. 35 (2012).
  • Helga Thorson, “Masking/Unmasking Identity in Early Twentieth-Century Germany: The Importance of N.O. Body” in Women in German Yearbook, vol. 25 (2009).
  • Erwin J. Haeberle, “Swastika, Pink Triangle and Yellow Star: The Destruction of Sexology and the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany” in The Journal of Sex Research vol. 17 no. 3 (1981).
  • Erwin J. Haeberle, “The Jewish Contribution to the Development of Sexology” in The Journal of Sex Research vol. 18 no. 4 (1982).

Videos:

Until next time, stay queer and stay curious!