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Sex after Fascism:
Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany
Dagmar Herzog

Honorable Mention for the 2005 Bonnie and Vern L. Bullough Award

Paperback | 2007 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691130392
368 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 20 halftones.
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What is the relationship between sexual and other kinds of politics? Few societies have posed this puzzle as urgently, or as disturbingly, as Nazi Germany. What exactly were Nazism's sexual politics? Were they repressive for everyone, or were some individuals and groups given sexual license while others were persecuted, tormented, and killed? How do we make sense of the evolution of postwar interpretations of Nazism's sexual politics? What do we make of the fact that scholars from the 1960s to the present have routinely asserted that the Third Reich was "sex-hostile"?

In response to these and other questions, Sex after Fascism fundamentally reconceives central topics in twentieth-century German history. Among other things, it changes the way we understand the immense popular appeal of the Nazi regime and the nature of antisemitism, the role of Christianity in the consolidation of postfascist conservatism in the West, the countercultural rebellions of the 1960s-1970s, as well as the negotiations between government and citizenry under East German communism. Beginning with a new interpretation of the Third Reich's sexual politics and ending with the revisions of Germany's past facilitated by communism's collapse, Sex after Fascism examines the intimately intertwined histories of capitalism and communism, pleasure and state policies, religious renewal and secularizing trends.

A history of sexual attitudes and practices in twentieth-century Germany, investigating such issues as contraception, pornography, and theories of sexual orientation, Sex after Fascism also demonstrates how Germans made sexuality a key site for managing the memory and legacies of Nazism and the Holocaust.


"Herzog's book succeeds elegantly as both a scholarly history of sexual morality in Germany and an examination of the way this history is so often distorted in the present day."--Publishers Weekly

"Forcefully argued and elegantly written. . . . Herzog's passionate insistence on the centrality of sexuality as an explanatory category and on the uncomfortably tight link between pleasure and evil provides fresh and bold insight into two of modern German history's most confounding questions: how National Socialism established and maintained its 'extraordinary appeal' and, conversely, how postwar Germans managed to morph so quickly into peaceful stability."--Atina Grossmann, American Historical Review

"Sex after Fascism is one of the best books of the past twenty years on the history of sexuality, and certainly the best book on this particular subject."--Thomas Laqueur, BookForum

"Dagmar Herzog's source-rich and solidly researched analysis surprises and challenges; it convinces over and over again through an unpretentious presentation of forgotten facts and connections. With nuance and yet also with clarity, the American historian shows how human beings who talk about sex are always also talking about other things entirely--and thereby revealing much about themselves."--Urs Rauber, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

"An always provocative and fascinating account of 20th-century German social, political, and cultural history. . . . Herzog provides valuable insights for an understanding of the historical contretemps and conundrums of 20th century Europe."--Jane Slaughter, Labour/Le Travail

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Table of Contents:

Introduction 1
CHAPTER ONE: Sex and the Third Reich 10
CHAPTER TWO: The Fragility of Heterosexuality 64
CHAPTER THREE: Desperately Seeking Normality 101
CHAPTER FOUR: The Morality of Pleasure 141
CHAPTER FIVE: The Romance of Socialism 184
CHAPTER SIX: Antifascist Bodies 220
Conclusion 259
Notes 267
Acknowledgments 349
Index 353

This book has been translated into:

  • German

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