Episode 9: Nazi Punks Fuck Off, Pt 2: Claude Cahun

Claude Cahun's name might not be well known, but their work as an artist has been hugely influential in the lives of many Western pop culture icons (David Bowie, for example). But the line between life and art wasn't always so clear for Claude Cahun and their life partner Marcel Moore. Whether it was fucking with gender norms in self portraiture or fucking with Nazis during World War II, Claude never did things in a straightforward manner. We'll say it again, "Nazi punks, fuck off!" Now with surrealism!

A Look at Claude Cahun

Much of Claude's self-portraiture work with their life partner Marcel Moore dealt with challenging gender expectations and roles, and playing with the gaze and assumptions of the viewer. Check out some of these shots:

Marcel and Claude

Marcel and Claude

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Autoportrait , 1928 (courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collection)

Autoportrait, 1928 (courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collection)

Que Me Vuex Tu   (What Do you Want From Me),  1929

Que Me Vuex Tu (What Do you Want From Me), 1929

Autoportrait,  1927

Autoportrait, 1927

Self Portrait (as a dandy),  1921-1922

Self Portrait (as a dandy), 1921-1922

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Self portraits - Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, left to right respectively. 

Self portraits - Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, left to right respectively. 

This one is Leigh's favorite. They also desperately want that coat. 

This one is Leigh's favorite. They also desperately want that coat. 

self portrait as a young girl 1914 jersey heritage.jpg
self portrait in cupboard 1932 jersey heritage.jpg
How can you not immediately fall in love with the kooky weirdo walking their cat on a leash in the cemetery!!

How can you not immediately fall in love with the kooky weirdo walking their cat on a leash in the cemetery!!

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Scan_20180529 (7).jpg
I Am In Training Don't Kiss Me , 1927 (courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collection)

I Am In Training Don't Kiss Me, 1927 (courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collection)

Symbolist and Surrealist Art

Not only did Cahun and Moore create a library of photo series, they also created other media of Symbolist and Surrealist art together-- from beautifully (and homoerotically) illustrated manuscripts and manifestos, photo-and-literary montage pieces, to surrealist sculptures and objects:

Uranian Games  manuscript cover, 1916-1918

Uranian Games manuscript cover, 1916-1918

A spread from Views and Visions, Chapter 29, 'The Modern Night' and 'The Antique Light', 1919

Aveux non avenus  (Disavowels) frontispiece, 1920-1930 (courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collection)

Aveux non avenus (Disavowels) frontispiece, 1920-1930 (courtesy of Jersey Heritage Collection)

More from  Disavowels

More from Disavowels

👀 Such vulvic imagery....

👀 Such vulvic imagery....

Nazi Fighting Badasses

Later in their lives, during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII, Cahun and Moore moved to the isle of Jersey and began a misinformation propaganda campaign aimed at tanking morale of German troopsl. Adopting the persona of Der Soldat Ohne Namen (The Soldier Without a Name), they began leaving propaganda tracts and posters, resistance poems, and defaced Nazi posters all around town. 

A propaganda tract from Cahun and Moore, 1942

A propaganda tract from Cahun and Moore, 1942

One of their rough designs for a tract that they ended up placing on oberleutenant w. zepernick's grave, 1943

One of their rough designs for a tract that they ended up placing on oberleutenant w. zepernick's grave, 1943

More leaflets of awesome resistance!

More leaflets of awesome resistance!

Signing as the soldier with no name

Signing as the soldier with no name

Cahun in the garden of La Rocquaise, posing as der Soldat ohne Namen

Cahun in the garden of La Rocquaise, posing as der Soldat ohne Namen

Arrest and Continued Resistance

When Cahun and Moore were arrested by the Gestapo, it did not stop their resistance efforts, as they vowed to fight the Nazi horror to their very last breaths. 

Marcel Moore's sketch of their prison cell, complete with the ventilation ducts that allowed a network of prisoners to secretly send messages to one another

Marcel Moore's sketch of their prison cell, complete with the ventilation ducts that allowed a network of prisoners to secretly send messages to one another

And we leave you with this, badass Claude Cahun after being released from prison, flipping the Nazis the "dirty bird" one last time. ICONIC HERO!

And we leave you with this, badass Claude Cahun after being released from prison, flipping the Nazis the "dirty bird" one last time. ICONIC HERO!

 

If you want to learn more about Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, check out our full list of sources and further reading below!

Online Articles:

Books and Print Articles:

  • Exist Otherwise: The Life and Works of Claude Cahun by Jennifer L. Shaw
  • Disavowals by Claude Cahun
  • Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask, Another Mask by Sarah Howgate and Dawn Ades
  • Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman by Shelley Rice

Until next time, stay queer and stay curious!

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!