Magnus Hirschfeld: The Origins of the Gay Liberation by Ralf Does

By Ralf Does

Magnus Hirschfeld (1868–1935) used to be one of many first nice pioneers of the homosexual liberation move. respected by means of such homosexual icons as Christopher Isherwood and Harry Hay, founding father of the Mattachine Society, Hirschfeld's legacy resonates all through he twentieth-century and worldwide. Guided by way of his motto "Through technological know-how towards Justice," Hirschfeld helped discovered the clinical Humanitarian Committee in Germany to protect the rights of homosexuals and advance a systematic framework or sexual equality. He used to be additionally an early champion of women's rights, campaigning within the early 1900s for the decriminalization of abortion and the fitting of girl lecturers and civil servants to marry and feature childrens. by means of 1933 Hirschfeld's dedication to sexual liberation made him a objective for the Nazis, and so they ransacked his Institute for Sexual examine and publicly burned his books.

This biography, first released to acclaim in Germany, follows Hirschfeld from his delivery in Poland to the heights of his profession through the Weimar Republic and the increase of German fascism. Ralf Dose illuminates Hirschfeld's ground-breaking function within the homosexual liberation move and explains a few of his significant theoretical ideas.

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Well-heeled patients paid considerable sums for consultation or treatment. Those without means were also treated. They could work off their debt, either doing clerical work in 30 / M AG N U S H I RS C H F E L D the offices of the SHC or, in the 1920s, in the household of the Institute for Sexual Science. Investing his entire fortune—according to tax records for 1918 just under 400,000 marks, with a taxable income of 27,500 to 28,500 annually—in the purchase of a building for the institute proved to be a wise decision on Hirschfeld’s part.

The stress of traveling, especially the heat and humidity of the tropics, finally took its toll. During October and November of 1931, Hirschfeld was in Bombay, bedridden with malaria. ”48 Relapses of malaria also prevented Hirschfeld from giving all the lectures he had planned in Egypt. He spent Christmas 1931, as the year before in America, at the seaside. ”49 He was powerfully drawn to Palestine, the last important non-European stop on his tour. Hirschfeld was more impressed with the young people on the kibbutzim, experimenting with collective living, than with the historic sites of the Bible.

The emphasis of this work varied over the years and depended on the staff that happened to be employed at a given time. Ultimately, sexual policy and sexual reform were the permanent tasks as the spectrum of topics was continuously broadened. Not everyone who worked at the institute briefly or for a longer period can be named here. As well, the destruction of the institute by the Nazis was so thorough that there are still gaps in our knowledge. Not all of the names have survived, biographical information is missing, and the time period of their staff participation or their staff assignments at the institute are not known.

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