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Vock, Anna (1885-1962)  
 
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Because of her continuous and longtime involvement, Anna Vock was the leading activist in the early years of organizing homosexual women and men in Switzerland in the 1930s.

According to the registration records of the city of Zurich, Anna Vock was born in Anglikon (Canton Aargau), Switzerland, on January 13, 1885. Nothing is known of her family or education, and her private and professional life still lies largely in darkness.

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The women's club "Amicitia" (Friendship) was formed in Zurich in August 1931, with Laura Thoma as president and Anna Vock as secretary. Its purpose was to bring lesbians out of their isolation and give them a sense of solidarity, but it was so discreetly advertised as a "women's club" that non-lesbian women also joined.

In October 1931, however, Thoma and Vock met with leaders of a newly organized "Excentric" club for homosexual men and agreed to meet jointly with them. It was also agreed that the women would bring only other lesbians. To this end, "Amicitia" was dissolved and replaced by a new club with the same name, but open only to lesbians.

The first joint event of the men's and women's clubs was a dance on January 2, 1932, at which Laura Thoma and August Bambula (of Excentric) surprised those in attendance by presenting the first issue of the new journal Freundschafts-Banner (Banner of friendship). This journal, after several name changes, became Der Kreis (The circle) in 1943, which name it kept until its demise in 1967. This journal is the most important, regularly issued European publication.

The police, of course, were always suspicious of any homosexual organization. Their spies correctly reported that Amicitia was formed for the protection of the women's own interests and the cultivation of true friendship. A police report also noted: "The board of 'Amicitia' currently consists of 2 persons, the president and the treasurer, the first also acting as secretary. They are also involved in editing the Freundschafts-Banner . . . . The particulars of the two women are as follows: Frau T. (divorced), born 1901, office worker; Fräulein Vock, Anna, born 1885, office worker, Zurich. The two women, who have an intimate relationship and because of their [sexual] disposition are already in our files, live with a third woman in a common household."

In April 1933, after the men's club had broken up, Vock, who was now acting as president of "Amicitia," decided to invite the men to build a common club for homosexual men and women to fight for their common cause. It was named Schweizer Freundschafts-Verband Amicitia (Swiss Friendship Association Amicitia). The journal Freundschafts-Banner, which had ceased publication in November 1932, began anew in April 1933 with Anna Vock as editor. She changed the name to Menschenrecht (Human rights) in 1937. It and the minutes of the organization, which were kept by Vock until 1938, are the only witnesses of the existence of a functioning, politically active group of homosexual women and men in Europe during the period of Nazism in Germany.

In addition to the threat that Nazism posed, the gutter press magazine Scheinwerfer in Zurich also attacked the group, resulting in their losing their meeting place--and Anna Vock losing her job when Scheinwerfer published her name and address. When Vock paid them back by accusing the editor of Scheinwerfer of slander, a legal action resulted in an agreement of the two parties not to attack one another. But that editor later started another paper, Guggu, which likewise attacked the group, causing a further loss in membership.

Although Anna Vock, Laura Thoma, and August Bambula originally used their real names in the publication, it is not surprising that many other contributors used pseudonyms; and in 1934 it was decided to use only pseudonyms. Vock's pseudonym was "Mammina" (an Italian diminutive of "mamma," i.e., "little mother"). Since her real name was well known, this was probably already her nickname.

In 1934 Karl Meier first appeared in the journal with the name R. Rheiner. He also used the names Gaston Dubois and, later, Rolf. Vock gradually gave more and more responsibility for Menschenrecht to Rolf, but she remained responsible for the women's pages and for the personal ads.

Because of the personal ads, Vock was accused by the police of "pandering." Rolf later recalled that she was "convicted by a judge who threatened all homosexuals with Hitler's methods." The judgment was, however, overturned by a higher court and the judge who had convicted her was himself convicted a half year later of having relations with female defendants.

Because the journal incurred financial difficulties, Rolf took over the editorship in 1943, renaming it Der Kreis, and remained editor until the journal folded in 1967. As editor he only used the name Rolf; his real name Karl Meier never appeared in Der Kreis.

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