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Brand, Adolf (1874-1945)  
 
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Editor, photographer, poet, polemicist, activist, anarchist, enfant terrible, Adolf Brand was the acknowledged leader of a faction of the homosexual emancipation movement in Berlin in the early twentieth century whose cultural views were expressed in his long-running journal Der Eigene (The Self-Owner), the first homosexual literary and artistic journal. In opposition to the better-known faction headed by Magnus Hirschfeld, Brand and his followers objected to the medical model used to describe same-sex relations and to the scientific approach of the sexologists.

Biography

Adolf Brand was born in Berlin on November 14, 1874. He was the son of the master glazier Franz Brand and his wife Auguste, who also had another son and a daughter.

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After a brief career as a teacher, Brand established a publishing firm. In 1896, he began publishing Der Eigene, a literary and artistic journal dedicated to "male culture." The first homosexual journal, Der Eigene became the voice of a faction of the early German homosexual movement that was opposed to the dominant faction led by Magnus Hirschfeld. Brand attacked sexologists for imposing a medical model on homosexuality, declaring that their research "took away all beauty from eroticism."

In 1903, Brand founded the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of Self-Owners) in order to support his publishing and political activities. An attempt to circumvent censorship of Der Eigene by establishing a closed circle of readers, the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen was more of a literary and intellectual circle than a political group per se. It, however, functioned to offer an opposing viewpoint to that of Hirschfeld's Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, which was the dominant group arguing for glbtq rights at the time.

An impetuous militant, Brand often became involved in public quarrels and scandals. Not only was he frequently prosecuted because of his publications and illustrations, but also because of his own rash behavior.

For example, in 1899 he publicly attacked with a dog whip a member of parliament with whose views he disagreed; he was sentenced to a year in jail. In 1907, he was involved in the sensational Harden-Eulenberg scandal in which two advisers of Emperor Wilhelm II were accused of homosexuality. In the wake of this scandal, Brand, an early proponent of "outing," published a pamphlet in which he accused German Chancellor Prince Bernhard von Bülow of having a homosexual relationship with Privy Councilor Max Scheefer. In response, Bülow sued Brand for libel. The publisher was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

During World War I, Brand served two years in the German army. It was probably during this time that he married Elise Behrendt, a nurse who loved him and accepted his homosexual inclination.

Several of Brand's male companions may have posed for the nude photographs that he featured in his journal, but only one is known for certain, Max Miede, who lived for a time with Brand and his wife.

During the Weimar period, the circulation of Der Eigene was surpassed by other homosexual publications, and Brand seemed to grow disillusioned with the prospects for decriminalizing same-sex sexual relationships.

Brand's activism came to an end with the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933. Soon after the Nazis took power, Der Eigene was silenced, and storm troopers raided Brand's house several times, seizing his books and photographs and remaining copies of his journal.

On November 29, 1933, he wrote to the Sexological Society in London, complaining that as a result of these raids, "I have been plundered of everything. I have nothing left to sell and am financially ruined. I no longer know from what I and mine can continue to live. For my whole life's work is now destroyed. And most of my followers don't have even the courage to write me a letter, not to mention support my work with any kind of payment. My loss through the confiscations and the prohibition comes to around 10,000 Mark."

Although he was not imprisoned by the Nazis, he was financially ruined and his spirit seems to have been broken. As a result of his financial difficulties, he sold his apartment to Miede and lived with his wife in only one room. They would probably have survived World War II if an Allied bomb had not destroyed the building where they were living. They were both killed on February 2, 1945.

Brand apparently tried to preserve some of his personal papers by burying them in a garden, but this legacy seems not to have been recovered.

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Above: A Der Eigene cover from 1906.

  
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