sexual politics
May 27, 2005 8:32 PM   Subscribe

Sexuality, politics, and memory in Twentieth-Century Germany. The introductory chapter of Dagmar Herzog's brilliant, deeply researched, and beautifully written book, and an informative review by Thomas Laqueur. (via nextbook)
posted by semmi (7 comments total)
Thanks for this; I'm going to get it.

Another fascinating phenomenon of post-Nazi sexuality is the overwhelming popularity of Stalag pulp fiction in Israel in the 1950s and early 1960s -- penny erotic thrillers about forbidden sexual trysts between American or English POWs and their Nordic-featured, sadistic female Nazi captors in German POW camps (Stalags) and concentration camps. These were translated from English into Hebrew, and they proved enormously popular with the so-called "Memorial Candle" generation, the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors.

You can see some cover scans here (website in Hebrew, scroll down for relevant pictures; they are hard to miss).

This phenomenon has been "buried" in Israel. Everyone knows about it, but people are uncomfortable to discuss it.
posted by ori at 9:20 PM on May 27, 2005

uncomfortable discussing it.
posted by ori at 9:21 PM on May 27, 2005

Although Lacqueur says that German post-war experience 'tracks' what happened in other places, I'm wondering whether he still doesn't make too much of German particularism. There is, for example, this :

A fuller version of this story would have to take up what has happened to German family size, among the lowest in Europe. The proliferation of masturbation aids and pornographic websites may have more to do with the fact that more people live alone in Germany than almost anywhere else.

So far as I know, pornographic sites and 'masturbation aids' are pretty common throughout the Western world. Moreover, he several times mentions the illegality of homosexuality; but homosexuality was forbidden in the UK until 1967, and even then, as Peter Thatchell argues in the article linked, liberalisation was only partial and provisional.
posted by TimothyMason at 11:25 PM on May 27, 2005

Good lord, ori, that's amazing -- I knew nothing about it. It would make a great post if you can find a link or two in English (which may not be easy, I suppose); it deserves more attention than it will get as a comment in this thread. Just one more proof that people are bizarre.
posted by languagehat at 6:26 AM on May 28, 2005

I find it particularly interesting how historical memory develops in part by the accumulative experiences of individuals within the specifics of their situation, but also in large part how the governing system simply invents memory by interpreting past events according to the tenets of their ideology.
posted by semmi at 5:53 PM on May 28, 2005

very interesting--thanks semii.

...Ultimately, and despite the contrary impulses, Nazism perpetuated and intensified certain aspects of the sexually liberalizing tendencies underway since the early twentieth century, even as it sought to harness those liberalizations--and the growing popular preoccupation with sex--to a savagely racist, elitist, and homophobic agenda. This was the distinctive innovation of Nazi sexual politics. The goal was not so much to suppress sexuality. Rather the aim was to reinvent it as the privilege of nondisabled, heterosexual "Aryans" (all the while claiming to be "cleaning up" sexual morality in Germany and overcoming the "Jewish" legacy). What needs to be confronted, in short (and what the 68ers could not accept), is that this advocacy of sexual expression coexisted with virulent racism and mass murder. ...

I see this here in the US now, with preaching of morality, bigotry, and a rigid heterosexuality while personal codes of conduct for the elite and powerful are very different--witness all the closeted Republicans, and the distinct lack of talk about divorce or adultery.
posted by amberglow at 9:29 PM on May 28, 2005

is the review link broken (site not found) for anyone else?
posted by andrew cooke at 3:47 PM on May 29, 2005

« Older Scavenger Filter   |   A symbolic gesture, yet sincere in the offering Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments