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Meier, Karl (1897-1974)  
page: 1  2  

From 1942 until Der Kreis's demise in 1967, Meier's influence on the periodical was supreme, if only by virtue of the sheer volume of his writings. In the years from 1946 to 1967 he contributed over 500 articles, short stories, poems, and commentary. His contributions amounted to about 20% of all contributions in German. (About half the written contributions were in German, with the remainder divided between French and English.)

Although the French and English sections of the journal had their own editors--"Charles Welti," pseudonym of Eugen Laubacher (1903-1998), for the French, and "Rudolf Burkhardt," pseudonym of Rudolf Jung (1907-1972), for the English--Meier set the tone for the journal, determining the ideas and ideals that he wanted the journal to promote. Nevertheless, he allowed a certain latitude in the expression of other views.

As was typical of other journals of the period, Der Kreis, as directed by Meier, was intent on promoting the acceptance of homosexuality by society at large, but rather than address outsiders, the journal addressed homosexuals themselves with the aim of making them more acceptable to society and helping them to adjust to societal expectations. Thus, Meier promoted a view of "the ideal gay man," one that very much mimicked the ideal of heterosexual society. A permanent, coupled relationship was the desirable form, for example. One-night-stands--not to mention prostitutes--were to be avoided, as well as flagrant behavior in public. The many short stories and poems in Der Kreis were often rather sentimental, especially the stories in the larger Christmas issues. Meier attempted to appeal to the educated reader as well as the common man, not surprisingly getting complaints from both.

The illustrations were a popular part of every issue of the journal, though Meier scrupulously avoided including any that might cause legal problems. Hence, there was no frontal nudity. Although Der Kreis did not pay contributors, the photographs were often of a very high quality.

Meier was especially proud of the photographs of George Platt Lynes (1907-1955), which frequently graced Der Kreis. Lynes contributed over 50 photographs. At first, Lynes used his real name, but later chose the pseudonym Roberto Rolf.

When the more liberal sexual views of the 1960s began appearing in the new gay periodicals of Germany and Scandinavia, which also often included frontal nude photographs, the readership of Der Kreis declined. The journal finally ceased publication in 1967.

Meier was deeply disappointed by the demise of Der Kreis, and this disappointment may have contributed to his declining health. In December 1970, he suffered a stroke during a rehearsal at a children's theater in Zurich, shortly before the premiere of a piece written specifically for him: suddenly he could no longer remember the text. A short time later symptoms of paralysis began to appear, and a long decline followed. Alfred Brauchli, his companion for over thirty years and a professional nurse, cared for him.

Meier died in Zurich on March 29, 1974.

The group that organized to produce Der Kreis also served as the nucleus of a cultural organization for homosexual men. It had a clubhouse with a lending library and offered occasional lectures as well as weekly dances. Meier directed the plays that were sometimes produced and often the special entertainments for various occasions, those for Christmas being especially popular. Meier gave much time to these activities.

As the editor of Der Kreis, as writer of short stories, poems, and commentary, and as adviser to his "homophile comrades" in difficulties of all kinds, Meier helped set the stage for the European movement for glbtq equality.

Hubert Kennedy

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literature >> Overview:  German and Austrian Literature: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

With major periodic setbacks, over the last two centuries German-speaking authors have gradually developed a gay and lesbian positive literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Homophile Movement, U. S.

The homophile movement of the United States refers to organizations and political strategies employed by homosexuals from the end of World War II to 1970.

literature >> Overview:  Journalism and Publishing

The gay and lesbian press is of prime importance in sustaining a frequently embattled minority and has been crucial in the development of a national mass movement for gay rights.

social sciences >> Overview:  Switzerland

Switzerland is a very cosmopolitan nation with a vibrant glbtq community, but it has lagged behind much of Europe, particularly the Nordic countries, when it comes to assuring equal rights.

literature >> Barr, James (James Fugaté)

James Barr is the pseudonym under which James Fugaté published the popular novel Quatrefoil (1950) and other works, and which he used as an activist in the homophile movement of the 1950s.

social sciences >> Baudry, André Émile

André Baudry, as leader of the French homophile movement from the early 1950s into the 1980s, was the principal spokesman for homosexuals in France before the rise of gay liberation in the 1970s.

literature >> Brand, Adolf

Editor, photographer, and activist, Adolf Brand was the leader of a faction of the early German homosexual emancipation movement whose cultural views were expressed in Der Eigene (The Self-Owner), the first homosexual literary and artistic journal.

social sciences >> Consoli, Massimo

Writer, archivist, and theorist, Massimo Consoli was the founder of the Italian gay movement and its leading activist.

social sciences >> Hiller, Kurt

German writer and activist Kurt Hiller contributed to several pacifist and intellectual movements, including the fight to repeal Paragraph 175, which criminalized homosexuality.

arts >> Horowitz, Vladimir

Russian-American pianist Vladimir Horowitz is widely regarded as among the greatest musicians of the twentieth century; his legendary artistry, preserved on recordings, remains a source of inspiration and delight.

arts >> Lynes, George Platt

American photographer George Platt Lynes made his fame as a fashion and portrait photographer, but his greatest work may have been his dance images and male nudes.

social sciences >> Vock, Anna

Activist and editor Anna Vock pioneered in organizing lesbians and gay men in Switzerland in the 1930s.


Battel, Franco. "Nico Kaufmann." aK Anderschume/Kontiki (Zurich) 13.1 (1997): 16.

Kennedy, Hubert. The Ideal Gay Man: The Story of Der Kreis. Binghamton, N. Y.: Haworth, 1999; also published as Journal of Homosexuality 38.1-2.

Salathé, André. "Karl Meier 'Rolf' (1897-1974): Schauspieler, Regisseur, Herausgeber des 'Kreis'." Thurgauer Köpfe 1 (1996): 203-14.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kennedy, Hubert  
    Entry Title: Meier, Karl  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated August 18, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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