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social sciences

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Brand, Adolf (1874-1945)  
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Opposition to Hirschfeld

Brand himself was well represented in the journal--as poet and photographer, as polemicist and activist--and always impatient with the progress of his cause. If Hirschfeld, as head of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee (founded by him and others in Berlin in 1897) and as editor of the journal Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen (Yearbook of Sexual Intermediates, 1899-1923), was the acknowledged leader of the mainstream homosexual liberation movement in the early twentieth century, then Brand, with Der Eigene and supported by the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen, was the leader of a second movement for homosexual liberation. With him were gathered those whose inclination was homosexual--or at least --and who wished for a change in social attitudes, but were opposed for various reasons to the views of Hirschfeld.

One important figure in this movement, for example, was the wealthy private scholar Benedict Friedlaender (1866-1908), whose substantial Renaissance des Eros Uranios (Renaissance of the Uranian Eros, 1904), a scholarly treatise arguing that same-sex friendship is "a normal, fundamental drive of mankind," had a large impact on members of the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen.

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Friedlaender argued against Hirschfeld's designation of a homosexual category and his identification of homosexuality with femininity, believing most men to be essentially bisexual. Like most supporters of Der Eigene, Friedlaender yearned for a return to the Greek ideal, including the recognition of the educational and cultural advantages of intergenerational friendships, as well as the rejection of any leading role for women in society. Friedlaender supported Hirschfeld at first, but broke with him in 1906.

The Scotch-German writer John Henry Mackay may be taken as representative of the part boy-lovers played in this movement, although he was never a member of the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen. His first boy-love poems appeared in Der Eigene in 1905. Contrary to later allegations, none of this group supported sexual acts with preadolescent boys; Mackay himself was attracted to boys from 14 to 17 years of age. True to his anarchist principles, Mackay rejected the idea that freedom was only for men. He believed that all persons, male and female, should be judged as individuals.

Rejection of the Medical Model

Above all, the members of this movement rejected the medicalization of homosexuality, a process they saw as continued by Hirschfeld, himself a medical doctor, in his insistence that homosexuality was inborn and that homosexuals represented a biological minority to be distinguished from "normal" men.

As Harry Oosterhuis has observed, "Most authors of Der Eigene were of the opinion that their feelings and experiences could not be understood in scientific categories and that art and literature provided the better means of expression." The love of one man for another was for them, not a matter of biology, but of culture.

They rejected any idea that those who loved their friend (and "friend-love" was a term commonly used by them in opposition to "homosexual") were in any way unhealthy or degenerate. There was also an element in this group that saw male-male love as superior to male-female love, an attitude that reflected a strain of misogyny.

Nudism and Nationalism

Not surprisingly, many members of this group supported the newly emerging nudist movement, especially its glorification of health and strength. The many nude illustrations in Der Eigene often emphasize the health of the nude body rather than any explicit eroticism. This is true to a certain extent of the photographs of Brand, but may be seen especially in the drawings of Fidus and Sascha Schneider, which illustrate strength and determination.

The idealization of manly friendship and male bonding by many of the contributors to Der Eigene was in line with some tendencies of German nationalism. For example, they shared with Nazism an ideal of national renewal through the promotion of manliness. However, the commitment of many of them to anarchist principles distanced them from Nazism. Moreover, they were aware that the Nazis firmly rejected any open promotion of homoeroticism. As Oosterhuis bluntly points out, "The realization of male bonding and the glorification of male strength and beauty in National Socialism was accompanied by the persecution of homosexual men."

Hubert Kennedy

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social sciences >> Overview:  Berlin

Notable in the twentieth century both for its pioneering efforts in homosexual emancipation and for the subsequent Nazi persecution of homosexuals, Berlin is now a major participant in the struggle to gain legal recognition of gay relationships.

literature >> Overview:  Censorship

Governments, publishers, editors, and even gay writers themselves have censored gay content in literature from the Renaissance to the present.

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:  Germany

While Germany, until recently, never officially accepted or welcomed members of the glbtq community, German culture and homosexuality have a long and significant history.

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:  Nazism and the Holocaust

As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism persecuted homosexuals as "asocial parasites"; more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges during the Nazi years, with 5,000-15,000 gay men incarcerated in concentration camps.

social sciences >> Overview:  Pederasty

Pederasty is the erotic relationship between an adult male and a boy, generally one between the ages of twelve and seventeen, in which the older partner is attracted to the younger one who returns his affection.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sexology

Sexology, the study of sex or of the interactions between the sexes, first emerged as a field of intellectual inquiry in the second half of the nineteenth century; its practitioners were the first to identify homosexuality as such and to speculate about its prevalence and etiology.

literature >> Andersen, Hans Christian

Danish fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen was probably bisexual in orientation, though he may well have remained a virgin.

social sciences >> Eulenburg-Hertefeld, Philipp, Prince zu

A favorite of Kaiser Wilhelm II, to whom he gave political advice, Philipp zu Eulenburg was involved with a circle of homosexual men, and his life ended in scandal.

arts >> Gloeden, Wilhelm von, Baron

One of the earliest gay photographers of the male nude, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden created images that evoke a dreamy vision of forbidden desire, while also raising questions about sexual tourism and kitsch.

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.

social sciences >> Hirschfeld, Magnus

German-born Magnus Hirschfeld deserves recognition as a significant theorist of sexuality and the most prominent advocate of homosexual emancipation of his time.

literature >> Mackay, John Henry

The Scottish-German John Henry Mackay, who wrote in German, dedicated himself to the cause of gaining sympathetic recognition of man-boy love.

literature >> Meier, Karl

Swiss actor, cabaret performer, and stage director Karl Meier was, under the pseudonym "Rolf," editor of Der Kreis, the leading European homophile publication, from 1943 until its demise in 1967.

arts >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

The most famous artist who ever lived, Michelangelo left an enormous legacy in sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, and poetry; while the artist's sexual behavior cannot be documented, the homoerotic character of his drawings, letters, and poetry is unmistakable.

social sciences >> Nietzsche, Friedrich

One of the most influential and most misunderstood of modern philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche in his work searched for a primal joie de vivre that he felt had been distorted by religion and that he was unable to realize in his own life.

literature >> Platen, August von

The poems of Count August von Platen are homoerotic expressions of Platonic love, idealism, beauty, friendship, and longing.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.


Grau, Günter, ed. Homosexualität in der NS-Zeit: Dokumente einer Diskriminierung und Verfolgung. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1993.

Hohmann, Joachim S., ed. Der Eigene--Ein Blatt für männliche Kultur: Ein Querschnitt durch die erste Homosexuellenzeitschrift der Welt. Frankfurt/Berlin: Foerster Verlag, 1981.

Keilson-Lauritz, Marita. Die Geschichte der eigenen Geschichte: Literatur und Literaturkritik in den Anfängen der Schwulenbewegung am Beispiel des Jahrbuchs für sexuelle Zwischenstufen und der Zeitschrift Der Eigene. Berlin: Verlag rosa Winkel, 1997.

Keilson-Lauritz, Marita, and Rolf F. Lang, eds. Emanzipation hinter der Weltstadt: Adolf Brand und die Gemeinschaft der Eigenen. Berlin-Friedrichshagen: Müggel-Verlag Rolf F. Lang, 2000.

Oosterhuis, Harry. "Adolf Brand und die Schwulenbewegung." Emanzipation hinter der Weltstadt: Adolf Brand und die Gemeinschaft der Eigenen. Marita Keilson-Lauritz and Rolf F. Lang, eds. Berlin-Friedrichshagen: Müggel-Verlag Rolf F. Lang, 2000. 69-84.

_____. "Brand, Adolf." Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. New York: Routledge, 2001. 68-69.

_____, ed. Homosexuality and Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany: The Youth Movement, the Gay Movement, and Male Bonding before Hitler's Rise: Original Transcripts from Der Eigene, the First Gay Journal in the World. Hubert Kennedy, trans. New York: Haworth Press, 1991.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kennedy, Hubert  
    Entry Title: Brand, Adolf  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated January 20, 2006  
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