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social sciences

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Vock, Anna (1885-1962)  
page: 1  2  

Meier had worked closely with Anna Vock and remained her greatest admirer. She remained in contact with him until her death in Zurich on December 14, 1962, even though women were no longer members of the group organized around Der Kreis.

Even during the 1930s there began a gradual shift of dominance in the organization from women to men. The reason for the withdrawal of women is not entirely clear, though it appears that the women were dissatisfied with the group's emphases on legal reform (which affected only men, since lesbian relations were not illegal) and on the social defamation of male homosexuals. Germany, after all, was Switzerland's next-door neighbor.

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Rolf concluded his obituary of Vock in the January 1963 issue of Der Kreis with the words: "Farewell, Mammina. Your name will forever remain bound with our cause in Switzerland. You prepared the ground on which we must build. We hope we shall succeed." That issue also had a note of thanks from the woman who was Vock's longtime companion for some five decades. The identity of Vock's companion is still unknown.

When Anna Vock and others founded their first organization, homosexuality was illegal in Switzerland for men, but not for women. However, she was a strong advocate of equal treatment for all, and she was militantly opposed to the law, which was finally repealed in 1942 as part of a general revision of the Swiss penal code.

The revision had been discussed from 1928 until 1939, when a plebiscite finally approved it. As part of the revision, the age of consent for homosexual acts was set at 20, even though the age of consent for heterosexual acts was 16. And women, who had not been mentioned in this context before, were now included. Despite this development, which in effect penalized lesbians, the discussion concerning the adoption of the new penal code focused only on homosexual men. Even Vock, who wrote about it, mentioned only how the changes in the revised code would affect men.

In retrospect, the most striking aspect of the adoption of the new Swiss penal code is that it took place at a time when anti-homosexual laws and attitudes in neighboring Germany were hardened by the Nazis.

The legal reform in Switzerland is one reason why, as Vock's Menschenrecht gave way to Meier's Der Kreis, the tone of the journal became less militant. No longer threatened by arrest and possible imprisonment for consensual homosexual activity, homosexuals in Switzerland were less concerned with political reform. But another reason may well have been the personal viewpoints and temperaments of the two editors. Vock was clearly the more militant of the two, and far quicker to assert and defend her positions.

Vock's presence was strongly felt in the early Swiss movement for equal rights. She deserves credit as a pioneer activist.

Hubert Kennedy

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social sciences >> Baudry, André Émile

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social sciences >> 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.


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

Kokula, Ilse, and Ulrike Böhmer. Die Welt gehört uns doch!: Zusammenschluss lesbischer Frauen in der Schweiz der 30er Jahre. Zurich: eFeF-Verlag, 1991.


    Citation Information
    Author: Kennedy, Hubert  
    Entry Title: Vock, Anna  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated July 27, 2005  
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