Category Archives: Gender

CfA Special Issue: Women’s History of the Weimar Republic

ARIADNE, the journal published by the Archive of the German Women’s Movement, is inviting contributions for a special issue on the “female history/ies of the Weimar Republic”. The editors aim to present the different female lifestyles and social realities and ask which role women played in the new state.

Proposals have to be submitted before 1 July 2017 to


Radio Feature on Marlene Dietrich

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of Marlene Dietrich’s death, Resonance FM repeated Marlene Dietrich – Beyond Top Hat and Tails, a radio feature we posted about before. It is available to listen online until 13 May.

BBC on Rosa Luxemburg

The BBC has produced a programme on revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, with input by historians Jacqueline Rose, Mark Jones, and Nadine Rossol: “Melvyn Bragg discusses the life and times of Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), ‘Red Rosa’, who was born in Poland under the Russian Empire and became one of the leading revolutionaries in an age of revolution. She was jailed for agitation and for her campaign against the Great War which, she argued, pitted workers against each other for the sake of capitalism. Continue reading

Guest Post: Edward Dickinson on Weimar’s sexual politics and the “backlash thesis”

image_normalRecently, the Weimar Studies Network has hosted a discussion  about Weimar’s sexual reforms and the idea of a backlash against them that undermined the Republic itself. Edward Dickinson, author of Sex, Freedom, and Power in Imperial Germany, 1880-1914, has kindly agreed to add his view to the debate, arguing for a more detailed look at the different groups that engaged in Weimar-era sexual politics.



“Was there a backlash against Weimar’s sexual politics?” 
Some further reflections

Edward Dickinson (UC Davis)

The editors of the Weimar Studies Network have asked me to comment on the exchange last November between Laurie Marhoefer and Julia Roos regarding what Marhoefer called the “backlash thesis” regarding the politics of sexuality in Weimar — the idea that the Weimar Republic was sabotaged by (among other things) controversies over the politics of sexuality.  Continue reading

Guest Post: Julia Roos’ Response to Laurie Marhoefer

roos_lgLaurie Marhoefer and the editors of WSN have invited me to respond to Marhoefer’s guest blog, “Was There a Backlash against Weimar’s Sexual Politics?” (posted 15 November 2015), and I am delighted about this opportunity for scholarly exchange.

Marhoefer and I disagree in our assessments of the role Weimar-era sexual reforms like the decriminalization of female prostitution in 1927 and the projected decriminalization of non-commercial male homosexuality played in the demise of the republic. In my book Weimar through the Lens of Gender: Prostitution Reform, Woman’s Emancipation, and German Democracy, 1919-1933 (University of Michigan Press, 2010), I argue that legal rights of due process and free movement granted to female sex workers in 1927 represented a fragile political compromise, and that the right-wing backlash against this compromise constituted an important facet of the destruction of Weimar democracy. Continue reading

Guest Post: Was there a backlash against Weimar’s sexual politics?

Laurie_MarhoeferLaurie Marhoefer, author of Sex and the Weimar Republic. German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis, has written a guest post on Weimar’s sexual politics, addressing the interesting question if Weimar’s progressive culture actually undermined its democratic system:


Was There a Backlash against Weimar’s Sexual Politics?
Laurie Marhoefer

Scholars of Weimar are nearly in agreement that the politics of sexuality helped to bring down the Republic. I term this “the backlash thesis.” It holds that Weimar-era progressivism on issues like homosexuality, reproductive control, and female prostitution incited a backlash among conservatives, and that the Nazis capitalized on that backlash by portraying themselves as the party best suited to clean up the “swamp of immorality” in which Germany supposedly wallowed. Continue reading

Sex and the Weimar Republic

9781442619579In her new study Sex and the Weimar Republic. German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis, Laurie Marhoefer shows that the famed sexual tolerance of the Weimar era was “only obtained at the expense of a minority who were deemed sexually disordered. In Weimar Germany, the citizen’s right to sexual freedom came with a duty to keep sexuality private, non-commercial, and respectable. Continue reading