Sex After Fascism: Memory and Morality in Twentieth-Century Germany

Dagmar Herzog, Author
Dagmar Herzog, Author Princeton University Press $61 (368p) ISBN 978-0-691-11702-7
Reviewed on: 03/28/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4008-4332-9
Open Ebook - 370 pages - 978-1-299-98815-6
Paperback - 361 pages - 978-0-691-13039-2
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In this history of the sexual laws, beliefs and practices before, during and after the Nazi regime, Herzog, an associate professor at Michigan State University, proves yet again that the personal is the political. Contraceptive techniques, the treatment of sexual minorities, the prevalence of pornography, how people talked-or didn't-about sexual practices all come under Herzog's examination as she argues that if we set sexual practices aside as ""irrelevant, we lose the opportunities to comprehend the extraordinary appeal of Nazism both to those Germans who sought the restoration of conservative family values and to those who benefited from Nazism's loosening of conventional mores."" Herzog begins by pointing out that, while popular accounts often portray Nazi Germany as sexually repressive, the reality was much more complicated. Most Germans, she explains, were actually urged to ""seek and experience sexual pleasure"" since the conception of healthy, heterosexual Aryans was high on the list of Nazi priorities. Yet, at the same time, ""sexual demonization was a pervasive feature of antisemitism,"" and the Nazis often portrayed Jews as carnal, bestial creatures while equating Christians with purity and spirituality. And Nazism continues to leave its mark on German sexuality today, Herzog argues as she guides readers through the collapse of communism and the rebellions of the 1960s all the way to the present. Though perhaps too dense for most lay readers, 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.
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