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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Austria  
 
page: 1  2  3  

Austrian philosopher Helene von Druskowitz (1856-1918), for example, wrote fervently against heterosexuality and encouraged women to consider relationships with other women. In a pamphlet published in 1905, she judged men harshly, calling man the "curse of the world," and pressed women to stand up against them by cultivating relationships with each other.

Hacker also documents how other early Austrian feminists, such as Irma von Troll (1847-1912), a writer who confronted the issue of prostitution in her work; Auguste Fickert (1855-1910), co-founder of Vienna's radical women's moment; and Marie von Najmájer (1844-1904), a Hungarian-descended apologist for lesbian love, all contributed to the emerging lesbian culture in Austria at the turn of the twentieth century.

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As in the United States and other European countries, feminism and lesbianism, although distinct, were closely related, both fostering women's culture and politics.

According to Hacker, after World War I, lesbians began to form their own organizations distinct from feminist groups. Identifying as women of the third gender, Austrian lesbians helped create local chapters of the Deutscher Freundschaftsverband (German Friendship Association) and Bund für Menschenrecht (Union for Human Rights).

Lesbian publications from Germany such as Frauenliebe (Women's Love) and Die Freundin (The Female Friend) also become popular among women of the lower middle class, as did early lesbian novels such as The Scorpion by German writer Anna Weirauch (1887-1970) and The Well of Loneliness by English author Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943).

Gay Men and the Fin-de-Siècle

Gay male culture also began to flourish in the late nineteenth century. As Vienna grew and expanded during the Industrial Revolution, large numbers of people, in the tens of thousands, moved into the city. The increase in young workers, many of whom were single men, arguably facilitated homosexual relationships.

In 1875, Adolf Wilbrandt, the director of the Burgtheater (National Theater), published the first gay novel in German, Fridolins heimliche Ehe (Fridolin's Secret Marriage). The novel presents a bisexual theory of the soul, comprised of a masculine and a feminine part. Previously unable to love fully because of these contradictory impulses, by the end of the novel, Fridolin is able to satisfy both his heterosexual and homosexual desires and finds happiness.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna boasted a number of guest houses, cafes, and bars that catered to a gay clientele, including Café Carl on Führichgasse, Dogenhof on Praterstraße, and Café Scheidl on Kärntnerstraße.

For those gay men who were unfamiliar with these establishments, a number of baths and parks served as cruising venues for men to meet each other and have anonymous sex, a practice that seems to have gained popularity among gay men at this time. Since the 1920s the Rathaus Park (City Hall Park) has been a popular place for gay men to cruise.

Krafft-Ebing, Freud, and the Study of Sexuality

Two of the most influential figures in defining and studying homosexuality in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries conducted their work in Vienna. Psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) both played important roles in codifying homosexual identity and theorizing about its etiology.

In 1873, the German born Krafft-Ebing moved to Graz. There he began his work on homosexuality and other sexual issues, and in 1886 he published Psychopathia Sexualis, which documented and classified a number of cases of sexual perversion. Chief among these cases was his interest in sexual inversion or "contrary sexuality," a concept that gained considerable currency at the time in defining homosexuality.

The father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud spent almost his entire life in Vienna. He contributed immensely to the study of sexuality through his work on sexual development and the unconscious. Among his many works, his "Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality" stands out as an illustrative example of how psychoanalysis attempts to understand the full range of human sexuality.

World War II and the Gay Holocaust

In 1938, Germany annexed Austria. Under National Socialist rule, German laws prohibiting "criminally indecent activities" between men were instituted in Austria. Known as Paragraph 175, the anti-sodomy law did not ban sexual acts between women, ironically loosening legal restrictions on lesbians. Even so, Nazi leaders viewed lesbianism as a threat to the state, and the lack of legal sanction did not prevent them from persecuting lesbians during the war.

In September 1939, the National Socialist leadership sent the first group of Austrian homosexuals to Mauthausen, a concentration camp in Austria near Linz. Richard Plant notes that a large percentage of homosexual men were sentenced to hard labor in rock quarries in camps such as Mauthausen and Sachsenhausen. Instead of being sent directly to death camps for immediate extermination, homosexuals were condemned to a slow arduous death, working in inhumane conditions. They were also subject to medical experimentation, including castration, in a search for a "cure" to sexual deviance.

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