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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight The German Homosexual
Emancipation Movement
 
  The German homosexual emancipation movement emerged decades before the 1969 Stonewall Riots inspired the gay liberation movement in the United States. It began with the formation of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1897, but was crushed under the boot of Nazism in the early 1930s.  
 
 
  Magnus Hirschfeld
Magnus Hirschfeld
 
 
 
  Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) was the most prominent leader of  Germany's homosexual emancipation movement. He also deserves recognition as a significant theorist of homosexuality.  
 
 
  Kurt Hiller (1885-1972) was a German writer and activist who contributed to several pacifist and intellectual movements, including the fight to repeal Paragraph 175, which criminalized homosexuality.  
 
 
  Ferdinand Karsch-Haack's (1853-1936) most significant contribution to the sexual emancipation movement in Germany consisted of demonstrating the occurrence of same-sex sexual activity throughout the animal kingdom, among so-called primitive peoples, and in all non-Western cultures.  
 
 
  Károly Mariá Kertbeny (1824-1882), an Austro-Hungarian man of letters, translator, and journalist coined the word homosexual. In doing so, he made a significant contribution to modern gay identity.  
 
 
  Nazism led to the destruction of Germany's homosexual emancipation movement. As part of their agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazis arrested more than 100,000 men on homosexual charges and incarcerated between 5,000 and 15,000 gay men in concentration camps.  
 
 
  Paragraph 175 was the German law prohibiting sex between men that homosexual emancipationists unsuccessfully fought to overturn. The law was strengthened by the Nazis to aid in their persecution of homosexuals.  
 
 
  Anna Ruling (1880-1953) was one of the first German women to publicly acknowledge her lesbianism and also became the first known lesbian activist in 1904.  
 
 
  The "Third Sex" was a term used by both Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and Magnus Hirschfeld to refer to homosexuals and was a relatively common theme in nineteenth-century European literature.  
 
 
  Karl Heinrich UlrichsKarl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) was a nineteenth-century German activist who was both the first modern theorist of homosexuality and the first homosexual to come out publicly. His work had a profound impact on the homosexual emancipation movement, though he did not live to see it.  
 
 
  "Uranian" and "Uranianism" were early terms denoting homosexuality. The words were derived from "Urning," a term invented by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.  
 
 
  Bruno Vogel (1898-1983) was a writer whose experiences as a soldier during World War I and as a homosexual in a society hostile to any open expression of same-sex love shaped his political and aesthetic vision. Vogel was a co-founder the Leipzig chapter of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee.  
 
 
  Photo Credits:  The images of Magnus Hirschfeld and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs courtesy Archiv für Sexualwissenschaft, Berlin.  
  
 

 
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