And The Homosexual Seduction Myth

From the late nineteenth century through the late 1960s, sodomy laws in Germany and postwar East and West Germany constructed the male homosexual as a monstrous figure who poses a threat to the patriarchal power of the state and the welfare and morality of its youth. In 1871, the newly formed German state adopted Prussia's anti-sodomy law, which became Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code. The law declared that an ''unnatural sexual offense, which is committed by two people of the male sex or by people with animals, is to be punished by incarceration; the verdict may also include the loss of bürgerlich Ehrenrechte [civil rights].''5

In response to the adoption of Paragraph 175, the first homosexual emancipation organization, the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee [Scientific-Humanitarian Committee], was cofounded by homosexual physician and scientist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, publisher Max Spohr, and ministry official Erich Oberg.6 The committee's motto—"Per scientiam ad justitiam" [Justice through knowledge] — summarized its central mission: to repeal Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code.

In 1897, the committee circulated a three-page petition directed to ''the Legislative Bodies of the German Empire'' calling for a revision of Paragraph 175. The committee recommended that homosexual sex be punished only in cases involving ''the use of force, or arousing 'public annoyance,' or when performed between an adult and a minor under the age of 16.''7 The petition included 900 signatures from the ''opinion makers of Wilhelmine Germany—prominent scientists, lawyers, educators, writers, highly placed civil servants, church functionaries, and the like.''8 Over time, the list of notable signers included Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Heinrich Mann, Thomas Mann, and Rainer Maria Rilke.9

When the Reichstag turned down their petition, Hirschfeld launched an educational campaign that aimed to educate lawmakers and the general public about homosexuality. The committee came closer to achieving their goal when a Communist member of the Reichstag Committee for Penal Code Re-

form proposed to remove Paragraph 175 from the Code. On October 16,1929, the committee approved the motion by a vote of 15 to 13.10 Unfortunately, the legislation never reached the Reichstag for a final vote.

Before seizing power in 1933, the National Socialist Party made their position on homosexuality clear in an official statement released in 1928 opposing the proposed repeal of Paragraph 175:

Anyone who thinks of homosexual love is our enemy. We reject anything which emasculates our people and makes it a plaything for our enemies, for we know that life is a fight and it's madness to think that men will ever embrace fraternally. Natural history teaches us the opposite. Might makes right. And the stronger will always win over the weak. . . . We therefore reject any form of lewdness, especially homosexuality, because it robs us of our last chance to free the people from the bond which now enslaves it.11

The protection of the German state would later serve as the foundation of the new antihomosexual statutes added to the Penal Code in 1935. The statute that made homosexuality a crime, Paragraph 175, was expanded to encompass a wider range of homosexual behavior as well as to impose greater restrictions on specific situations involving youth. The newly revised law, which officially took effect on September 1, 1935, read as follows:

Paragraph 175

1. A man who commits a sexual offense with another man or allows himself to be sexually abused is punished with incarceration.

2. If one of the persons involved was not yet 21 years old at the time of the act, the court can refrain from punishment in particularly minor cases.

Paragraph 175 a

The following is punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years; in the case of mitigating circumstances, by a jail term of no less than 3 months:

1. A man who coerces another man with violence or the threat of present danger to life and limb either to commit a sexual offense with him or to submit himself to be sexually abused by him.

2. A man who through abuse of professional, work or other relationships of power and subordination orders another man to either commit a sexual offense with him or to submit himself to be sexually abused by him.

3. A man over 21 years of age who seduces a male under the age of 21 either to commit a sexual offense with him or to submit himself to be sexually abused by him.

4. A man who prostitutes himself with or lets himself be abused or offers himself for such purposes.

The penalty for homosexual acts between adult males was now harsher, though the courts were allowed to consider offenses involving an individual under 21 (under Section 2 of Paragraph 175) as a mitigating circumstance. This is not to suggest that the National Socialist government was condoning intergenerational homosexuality, for Section 3 of Paragraph 175 explicitly prohibited sexual acts between an adult and a youth, though the penalty was more severe when the offense involved two adults. The homosexual seduction of minors was also included in Paragraph 174 (''sex offences with dependents") and Paragraph 176 of the German Penal Code. Paragraph 176, in particular, involves vice with children under the age of 14:

A penitentiary sentence of up to ten years will be imposed on anyone who . . . undertakes indecent acts with a person under fourteen years of age or lures such persons to carry out or tolerate indecent acts. If mitigating circumstances are present, a prison sentence of no less than six months will ensue.12

In addition to the revised laws, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel (SS), restructured the Criminal Police Force and established a headquarters in Berlin that offered local police forces throughout Germany assistance with prosecuting homosexual offenses. The police reported legal proceedings for anyone suspected of sexual-related offenses (Paragraphs 174-176) or ''blackmail on grounds of homosexuality" (Paragraph 253) to the Reich Office for the Combating of Homosexuality and Abortion, particularly if he or she was a Jew, a civil servant, or in a leadership position.13 The 1937 guidelines issued by the Criminal Police for combating homosexuality and abortion emphasized the serious threat homosexuals posed to German youth:

Especially dangerous are homosexuals who feel attracted to the youth. By their arts of seduction they are constantly winning over and contaminating young people. . . . Someone who is known as a corrupter of youth is to be mercilessly removed from human society. It should not be thought that he has done it only once. . . . And the likelihood of a subsequent offense is too great that, in the interests of the state, it appears necessary to put him for a long time in a place of confinement.14

Before the revised Paragraph 175 went into effect, homosexuals were being imprisoned in a concentration camp in Fuhlsbüttel. Although the number of homosexuals incarcerated in the death camps is difficult to ascertain due to limited existing records, it is estimated that 10,000 homosexuals were imprisoned in over 11 camps.15 Historical records and memoirs of camp survivors indicate that the men and women who wore the ''pink triangles''—the prison markings signifying their homosexual status—were, in some camps, at the bottom of the prison hierarchy.16 Many homosexuals were coerced into castration or were used as guinea pigs for experiments involving typhus fever and hormones.17

Although nothing in pre- or post-World War II German history would mirror the atrocities committed by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, the liberation of Germany at the end of the war did not mean freedom for homosexuals living in East Germany or the Federal Republic of West Germany. Homosexuality remained illegal in both countries, and homosexuals would not receive formal recognition as Holocaust victims until 1985.18 Paragraph 175 was retained as part of the Penal Code, and the seduction myth would continue to serve as the rationale for the criminalization of homosexuals. In the Federal Republic, the number of prosecutions under Paragraph 175 increased from 1953 to 1965 as former concentration camp victims who did not renounce their homosexuality received sentences lasting up to six years.19

The first opportunity for the repeal of Paragraph 175 did not occur until May of 1957, when the Bundesverfassungsgericht (West German Federal Constitutional Court) heard an appeals case involving a merchant, Oskar K., and a cook, Günter R., who were sentenced in 1952 and 1953, respectively, to jail terms under Paragraph 175. Oskar K. received one year and eight months for violating Paragraph 175 and Paragraph 175a No. 3 (seducing a male under 21 or committing a sexual offense with him). Günter R. was sentenced to one year in jail under Paragraph 175a No. 3 plus one crime of accessory under the same law and misdemeanor for the crime of sexual offense (under Paragraph 175). Their convictions were challenged on three grounds: (1) both men were convicted under a law that had been revised by National Socialists and embodied the principles of Rassenlehre [National Socialist racial teaching]; (2) Paragraph 175 violated the Grundgesetz [Basic Law] of the West German Constitution, which insured that every individual had the right to develop his or her personality freely; (3) Paragraph 175 was unconstitutional because it discriminated against male homosexuals while lesbians were exempt, thus violating Paragraph 2 of Article 3 of the Basic Law, which states that ''men and women have the same rights'' and that ''no one may be disadvantaged or advantaged on account of his sex.''20

The court ruled that the three objections were without merit. Although

Paragraph 175 had been revised under Nazi rule, the court argued that the present government did allow laws issued under the National Socialists. More importantly, not all laws that were issued by the National Socialist government can be treated as legally void without considering their content and posing the question of whether they are still recognized as having legal validity by those whom they affect.21

The record also stated that there was ''virtual unanimity'' in the western occupied zones that Paragraph 175 and Paragraph 175a ''were not 'laws shaped by National Socialism' to such a degree that they should be denied force in a free democratic state . . .''22 In response to the claims that antihomosexual legislation violated the Basic Law, the court ruled there were fundamental ''biological'' and ''functional'' differences between men and women, which could justify the different treatment of the sexes in terms of homosexuality. Through extensive testimony from over a dozen ''expert'' witnesses, the court established that male homosexuality posed more of a threat to society than lesbianism because male homosexuals were more likely to seduce, have a greater sexual drive, and change partners more frequently. Consequently, the constitutional appeal of Günter R. was rejected, while the appeal of Oskar K. was irrelevant due to his death.

The transcript of the 1957 court case remains an important testament to the antihomosexual attitudes of postwar Germany. Despite the intolerance endured by homosexuals since the turn of the century, the dominant German construction of homosexuals as ''seducers of youth'' would remain intact. The German high court revitalized the fear propagated by the National Socialists that homosexuals posed a social danger to the welfare of the German people. This fear is the subject of the only gay-themed film produced in Germany in the 1950s, Anders als du und ich.

anders als du und ich

In Anders als du und ich (Different from You and Me, 1957), which was released in the United States in 1959 under the title The Third Sex, a West German couple struggle to prevent their son from turning into a homosexual. The film was directed by Veit Harlan, a former stage actor who, under the supervision of Joseph Goebbels, emerged as one of Nazi Germany's leading filmmakers. Harlan's most famous work was an anti-Semitic version of Lion Feuchtwanger's 1925 pro-Jewish novel Jud Süss [Jew Süss], in which the title character, Süss Oppenheimer, is portrayed as an evil Jewish tax collec-

A notorious film dealing with teenage homosexuality, Anders als du und ich (1957) shows Klaus (Christian Wolff) under the gaze of Dr. Boris Winkler (Friedrich Joloff).

tor who uses his position to gain power for himself and the Jewish community. Tried, but never convicted of war crimes, Harlan returned to directing in 1950 and continued to work in Germany until his death in 1964.

In The Third Sex, Werner Teichmann (Paul Dahlke), a bank director, and his wife, Christa (Paula Wessely), are concerned that their teenage son, Klaus (Christian Wolff), is spending too much time with his best friend, Manfred (Günter Theil). Klaus and Manfred share a mutual interest in modernist literature, music, and art, which is fostered by their friendship with a homosexual art dealer, Dr. Boris Winkler (Friedrich Joloff). With the help of his brother-in-law Max (Hans Nielsen), Werner confronts Dr. Winkler about his relationship with his son and files charges against him for corrupting a minor. Meanwhile, Christa consults their family doctor, who suggests that a heterosexual experience would perhaps lead her son down the path to normalcy. Christa makes a subtle hint to their live-in housekeeper, Gerda (Ingrid Stenn), saying that she would reward her with a bracelet if she would sleep with her son. While the Teichmanns are away, Gerda seduces Klaus and the couple fall madly in love. When Manfred learns about Klaus and Gerda, he tells Dr. Winkler, who uses the information against the Teichmanns. Christa is charged with procurement, and although the judge understands that she was acting in her son's best interest, he must still give her the minimum six-month sentence.

Based on an actual court case, the film sought to educate parents about the warning signs of homosexuality. Although director Harlan and screenwriter Dr. Felix Lutzkendorf, who based his script on a story by Robert Pil-chowski, expressed an occasional pang of sympathy for those who are on the sexual margins of German society, the film rejects homosexuality as a healthy, acceptable alternative lifestyle.

The Teichmanns are initially concerned about their son when he demonstrates an "unusual" fondness for his friend Manfred, whom Klaus protects from their cruel classmates. In return, Manfred introduces Klaus to modernist music and poetry and encourages him to show his abstract paintings to his mentor and benefactor, Dr. Winkler. In a scene that could be straight out of Christian and His Stamp Collector Friend, Dr. Winkler waits for Klaus in the schoolyard after school. He introduces himself to Klaus, looks him over from top to bottom, and asks to see his paintings. He even offers him a ride in his car, but Klaus declines and later confesses to Manfred that Dr. Winkler makes him feel uncomfortable.

Neither Dr. Winkler's attraction to Klaus nor Manfred's obvious infatuation with his friend is fully articulated. Homosexual desire is instead displaced onto a discourse of modernist culture in the form of Klaus' abstract paintings, Manfred's prose, and the atonal music played on Dr. Winkler's electronic synthesizer, which the good doctor describes as "music that has a relationship to our daily lives, rather than sheer romanticism." Winkler is impressed by Klaus' paintings, which the young artist describes as a combination of Picasso and Kandinsky. He encourages Klaus to paint his own vision, which he assures him will emanate from his "inner eye." ''No one ever explained it to me before,'' confesses a dazed Klaus, who appears to be under the spell of Winkler's hypnotic stare.

The film's antimodernist position and the equation of modernism with homosexuality echoes the vicious campaign launched by the National Socialists against modernist art, which they regarded as degenerate and antiGerman. Only then, in the Adenauer era, homosexuality was not so much anti-German as it was anticapitalist. Consequently, Werner's discussion with Klaus over his friendship with Manfred turns into a debate between culture and capitalism. Klaus accuses his father of caring only about money, while Werner reminds him that it is the bank that provides the cash that allows him to enjoy the "beauties" of life. Underlying their discussion of the value of culture is the issue of Klaus' homosexuality:

werner: Klaus, I'm concerned about you.

klaus: You're worried because you don't understand.

werner: What is there to understand? We've all had friendships but it was never the way it is between you and Manfred.

klaus: You really want me to explain. For you, business is all. Painting and poetry mean nothing. You live the bank until you go to sleep. And that's it, father.

werner: Very astute. Only the bank offers you the chance to find the beauties you seek from life because of where the cash is from. That's how this culture your father can't understand is provided. ... I talked with your mother and now I feel that the hour has come. In fact, I feel, Klaus, that it may be too late. You have been living in a dream. And I think that this Manfred thing ought to finish now. It's better for you and for him.

Werner Teichmann serves as the film's mouthpiece for the procapitalist values of the Adenauer era. More importantly, The Third Sex reiterates the association the Nazis made between homosexuality as a sexual perversion and modernism as a decadent aberration of German culture in order to position homosexuality as antithetical to the capitalist ideology of the Federal Republic. Thus, as the narrative proceeds, Teichmann has two interrelated goals: transform his son into a heterosexual and wake him up to the capitalist realities of postwar Germany.

Werner's goals can only be attained by reclaiming his patriarchal role of the father from Dr. Winkler. When Teichmann confronts Winkler over the doctor's self-proclaimed role as his son's "instructor," homosexuality is once again displaced onto the modernism versus capitalism debate:

winkler: These young men, you see, they come here to me because they discover something here their fathers cannot give them—spiritual understanding—a kind of mental and artistic vision. It often prepares them for a career.

werner: As he is my son, I will instruct him now.

winkler: You'd find it better, for instance, if he ran with loose women, people of that sort, like so many of the others?

werner: Doctor, between those extremes, there is a normal world with normal people. I grew up in it and I am glad to say that I am happy in it.

winkler: Oh yes, naturally, the world of—

werner: Please say what you mean—you mean a commonplace world.

winkler: If it comes to that, I guess. You see, I feel that it's a world in which the intellectual, the modern man, is choking.

The danger homosexuality poses to Germany's youth thus becomes rewritten as a struggle between traditional and modern values. To insure that his son will follow in his footsteps and become part of the patriarchal order, Werner must rescue his son from the clutches of Dr. Winkler.

The film makes some attempt to acknowledge that homosexuals do exist, if only on the margins of society. In their search to locate Dr. Winkler, Werner and his brother-in-law Max visit a homosexual bar where they watch a drag show. Werner is in shock when he realizes that women sitting around him and performing on stage are actually men. Max seems to be suspiciously comfortable and knowledgeable about gay life. ''The world is full of shadows,'' Max explains to Werner, ''but the shadows are a world too.'' The film also supports Magnus Hirschfeld's theory that homosexuality is inborn; homosexuals constitute a third, intermediate sex that possesses the combined traits of a heterosexual male and a heterosexual female. Although Hirschfeld is never directly mentioned, his theory is the basis for the film's English title, and it informs a fictional study that Crista has consulted in order to gain a better understanding of Klaus' relationship with Manfred. The film suggests that homosexuality is genetic when Manfred's mother reveals to Werner and Max that her husband and son are similar. ''My husband was a dancer at the opera years ago,'' she explains. ''I know just what Manfred is like. It's sometimes better to face it.''23

While Manfred's homosexuality is irreversible, there's hope for Klaus, whose heterosexuality is confirmed by his sexual encounter with Gerda. In the process, there is a shift in the oedipal configuration of the narrative as Dr. Winkler and Manfred are replaced by the more desirable Gerda. The story supports the myth that all a homosexual needs is one experience with a woman in order to be cured. It also displaces the ''fault'' of Klaus' two father figures—the homosexual and the uncompassionate Werner—onto the mother, who believed she was only acting out of love for her son (''It would be a magic cure ... to love someone''). In fact, Crista admits she gladly accepts her sentence because it is worth spending six months in prison to insure her son's future as a heterosexual.

The tale of Klaus Teichmann, whose heterosexuality was redeemed thanks to a mother's love, exemplifies how little the attitudes surrounding homosexuality had progressed in West Germany. The seduction myth and the homophobia, stereotypes, and misinformation, which Hirschfeld and his contemporaries sought to dispel, continued to be at the core of the government's social and legal construction of homosexuality in the postwar era. In 1962, the Christian Democrat government presented a revised version of Paragraph 175 (known as E62) that would abolish only the additions made by the National Socialists. As Martin Dannecker observes, liberals found the revisions disturbing because the rationale provided by the government for the maintenance of Paragraph 175 ''echoed in form and content the fascist pro-

paganda calling for the extermination of homosexuals."24 Dannecker compares the arguments made for E62 and the rationale for the elimination of homosexuals offered by Klare in Homosexual Penal Law, the 1937 publication commissioned by Himmler outlining the antihomosexual views of the National Socialists.

Both E62 and Klare argued that the criminalization of homosexuality (in Klare's case, incarceration and extermination) was essential for the protection of German youth as well as the maintenance of the strength of the German state. Klare warned about the terrifying increase in homosexual activity, especially among the young, which could not but present a danger for people, state and race, unless it was halted by the ruthless vigor and determination of the law.25

Similarly, E62 argued that the purity and health of sexual life is a precondition of extraordinary importance for the stability of the people and the preservation of the natural order of life, and our growing young people in particular require express protection from moral danger.26

Consequently, the fall of civilizations can also be attributed to the spread of homosexuality through seduction. As Klare put it:

History teaches us that a state is committed to decay if it does not counter the spread of homosexual practices with decisive counter-measures.27

And E62:

Wherever homosexual vice has taken hold and become widespread, the consequence has always been the degeneration of the people and the decay of its moral powers.28

The basic belief that homosexuality would be on the rise if it were legalized was still intact, despite the absence of evidence that homosexuality was on the rise in countries where it had been legalized (e.g., Italy, Denmark, and France).29 According to Dannecker, homosexuality was viewed through the lens of fear regarding the consequences of repealing Paragraph 175:

By reducing the debate to the law and its consequences, not only was the life situation of homosexuals reduced to the aspect of criminaliza-

tion, but this also contributed to repression from consciousness the general homophobic structures in West Germany. Because discrimination and antipathy were only discussed in terms of the criminal law, the impression was given that the problem would be ended once the law was changed. . . . What was problematic and in need of change in the social position of homosexuals was reduced to the single issue of criminality. Ultimately, this abstraction from the overall context of homosexual life led to the widespread idea that the absence of discriminatory legislation was identical with positive tolerance.30

As drafted in 1962, E62 was never enacted, but would serve as the first in a series of revisions of the penalties for sex crimes that would continue for the next six years. Finally, in May of 1969, the penalties for sodomy between consenting adults and adultery were eliminated from the penal code of West Germany. The new bill begins with a quote from Seneca: ''Only this proves wisdom—to punish not because a crime occurred yesterday but rather that it will not occur tomorrow.'' The motivation for the repeal of Paragraph 175, which went into effect on September 1, 1969, was explained in a brochure entitled ''Progress in Penal Law, Demand of Our Time,'' by Gustav Heinemann, West Germany's president-elect and former justice minister. Heinemann explained that ''a penal code which brands people as criminals because of abnormal sexual qualities encourages hypocrisy, snooping and blackmail. Thus it must be welcomed that the Bundestag has been called to abolish offenses such as homosexuality."31

Although the law decriminalized consensual homosexual relations between adults, it retained strict penalties for minors who engage in consensual or forced relations with an adult. Under the new code, the active partner had to be over the age of 18, while the restrictive age for the passive partner was over 21. The definition of homosexual relations in active/passive terms and, more importantly, the three-year age difference between the active and passive partners demonstrates how the German Penal Code continued to ''protect'' the youth of Germany.

As The Third Sex illustrates, the anti-gay myths perpetuated by the Third Reich remained long after the Nazi flags and banners were taken down. It was only after the gay rights movement was in full force in West Germany in the early 1970s that a new generation of filmmakers emerged, which included Wolfgang Petersen (Die Konsequenz [The Consequence], 1978); Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Faustrecht der Freiheit [Fox and His Friends], 1975, and Querelle, 1982); Lothar Lambert (Nachtvorstellungen [Late Show], 1977); and Rosa von Praunheim (Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt [It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse,

But the Situation in Which He Lives], 1970). These filmmakers would at last begin to deconstruct the false myths surrounding homosexuality, homosexuals, and gay male relationships.

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