“Catharina Schlegelin had hidden her pregnancy viciously from everybody”: extramarital pregnancies in three different sources on infanticide from the 18th century

Eva Marie Lehner is a historian and Early Modernist. She specializes in the history of the body, gender, and sexuality, historical anthropology, identity, and ecclesiastical record-keeping processes. Her most recent publications and presentations related to her Ph.D. project on south German parish registers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. eva.lehner[@]uni-due.de

During the early modern period (1500–1800) infanticide was a criminal act and punished by death.[i] In German-speaking territories, the term used for infanticide was KindsmordKindsmord meant a woman killing her illegitimate newborn. In contemporary German legislative texts, unmarried women were the only ones who could commit this crime. Court judgments saw hiding an extramarital pregnancy and illegitimate childbirth as evidence in a trial on infanticide. 

Early modern judicial treaties describe the crime as “unchristian” and “inhuman”.[ii] Simultaneously, executions of Kindsmörderinnen (women who had committed infanticide) were difficult to enforce and carry out by local authorities.[iii] Reactions to these executions by the audience were complex, ambivalent, and often unforeseeable.[iv] During the 18th century, the attitude towards infanticide changed fundamentally. A reform of the penal law at this time evoked debates in which infanticide played a crucial role.[v] The discussion centered around the question if one should abolish the death penalty for infanticide. The social, moral, and emotional situations of unmarried women, which could socially degrade when she got pregnant, played a remarkable role in this debate. Extramarital intercourse was not only severely frowned upon but could also be incriminating for the participants. The stigma which was associated with illegitimate children applied primarily to women. In the following, I will present three different sources from the 18th century discussing infanticide and showing different perspectives on extramarital sexuality, gender, and law.

Legal norms

The judicial debate on infanticide in the 18th century was deeply interlinked with the judgment of extramarital intercourse. This connection was also part of legal norms decreed by the authorities. The instructions which Count Palatine Karl Theodor legislated for Palatinate and Bavaria in 1726 and 1744 are two examples. The government in Palatinate Sulzbach referred to his instructions when it released a local regulation in 1766. According to this law, women were obliged to report an extramarital pregnancy. Hiding a pregnancy, covering it up, or sheltering a pregnant woman was defined as a criminal act. In an instruction published in 1789, unmarried women were suspicious when they had hidden their pregnancy and no one could testify for the childbirth.[vi]

In the 18th century, the authorities in Bavaria and Palatinate Sulzbach tightened the edicts against infanticide. These legal norms criminalized women hiding an extramarital pregnancy to prevent infanticides. 

Court records

What impact did these measures have on legal practices and judgments concerning infanticide? During the first half of the 18th century, the court in Sulzbach convicted six women of this crime.[vii] On October 3, 1739, one of these women, Catharina Schlegelin, was sentenced to death by the judge and executed in public. The court records cover the circumstances of the pregnancy, birth, and homicide. The files also document the physical and mental condition of Catharina, how she treated her dead child, buried it, and prayed for it. The records focus on the hidden pregnancy as part of the crime or as its starting point:  

“Because the convict Catharina Schleglin had hidden her pregnancy viciously from everybody: she repeatedly felt labour-pains, and she went home alone from work on the field. Because she gave birth to her child separated from other people and in secret. Because she did not stanch the umbilical cord of the newborn, but mainly squeezed its head, and pressed its throat, put it in water until it drowned.”[viii]

Court records: One page from the court records on Catharina Schlegelin, Sulzbach 1739.[1] 

Parish records

Two protestant clergymen supervised Catharina Schlegelin during her trial and after her conviction. Both ministers wrote her burial entry in the local parish register after her execution.[ix] They documented the ambivalent attitude towards infanticide and convicted women in the 18th century: 

“Once again – God be merciful! – we both supervised and stood by a woman who killed her infant [kinder-Mörderin] and therefore was happily brought from life to death with a sword.

Catharina Schlegelin is the daughter of Johan Schlegel who is still living and a wealthy peasant in Schellersdorf, part of the parish Edelsfeld. She is his only daughter with his first wife. He and his second wife are childless. She [C.S.] was on duty as a maid when she got impregnated by the male servant, Jobst Pferber from Fronberg. She hid her pregnancy from her parents and the boy because she was afraid of her parents. They did not like the Pferber, because he was not wealthy, and she could get another man. Finally, she was so desperate that she killed the infant when her parents and everyone else were out on the field. She buried it in the barn. She did confess to her doing when the midwife questioned her during her first arrest in Königstein, she realized the extent of her sin and finally regretted it tearfully. She prepared herself honestly and freely for her death and many people were astonished by her youth of 23 years […].”[x]

In this entry, the clergymen tried to show that Catharina understood the bearing of her actions and regretted her doings. Therefore, her soul could be saved. In contrast to the court records the burial entry explains Catharina’s environment in detail. The young woman received a short biography in the parish records. The authors described her actions as brutal and sinful. However, the priests also mentioned her personal life. In their reading, the circumstances caused her a great deal of desperation and led to her actions. Part of her conflicted situation was the social or class distinction between her and her child’s father. She was the daughter of a wealthy peasant, and he was a poor servant. So, her parents did not accept him as her husband. Hence, she could not marry him even after the pregnancy which led to her desperate situation. Also, the two clergymen described that Catharina responded positively to them, emphasizing her regrets and catharsis. She confessed to her crime immediately and accepted her punishment. According to the burial entry, her behaviour amazed the priests and many people who attended her execution. The entry shows that the execution of women, convicted of infanticide, was reviewed in different ways. The church record offers a contra narrative to the legal norms and the judgment the court made. These three different perspectives on extramarital sexuality, gender, and law were part of the reevaluation of infanticide as a criminal act in the 18th century. 


Cite this article: Eva Marie Lehner, “Catharina Schlegelin had hidden her pregnancy viciously from everybody”: extramarital pregnancies in three different sources on infanticide from the 18th century, in: History | Sexuality | Law, 25/03/2021, https://hsl.hypotheses.org/1621, (abgerufen am: Datum).


[1] Image Copyright: In puncto Infanticidy. VII. Allgemeine Landespolizei. 1. Sicherheits- und Sittenpolizei. Schöffenurteile, signature A 69: 4. Katharina Schlegl, 1739, fol. 49 v.

[i] Besides the topic of infanticide being present during the early modern period, deadly violations against newborns were infrequent: Garthine Walker, Child-Killing and Emotion in Early Modern England and Wales, in Katie Barclay/Kimberley Reynolds/Ciara Rawnsley (ed.), Death, Emotion, and Childhood in Premodern Europe, London, New York 2016, pp. 151-171, p. 154.
[ii] Art. 131: Straff der weiber so jre kinder tödten, in: O.A., Constitutio Criminalis Carolina. Peinliche Gerichtsordnung Kaiser Karl V. Faksimiliedruck der ausgabe Augsburg 1533, Osnabrück 1973, S. XXVIII; Art. 35 und 36: Vom heimlichen kinder haben/ und tödten durch jre mütter genugsam anzeygung, pp. VIII, IX. 
[iii] Jutta Nowosadtko, Hinrichtungsrituale. Funktion und Logik öffentlicher Exekutionen in der Frühen Neuzeit, in: Sigrid Hirbodian/Michael Matheus (ed.), Kriminalität und Gesellschaft in Spätmittelalter und Neuzeit (Mainzer Vorträge 8), Stuttgart 2005, pp. 71-94, see p. 89.
[iv] Walker, Child-Killing, p. 152. Regarding the different emotions on infanticide in France during the 16th century: Susan Broomhall, Beholding Suffering and Providing Care: Emotional Performances on the Death of Poor Children in Sixteenth-Century French Institutions, in Barclay/Reynolds/Rawnsley (ed.), Death, Emotion and Childhood, pp. 65-86, see pp. 70-72.
[v] Otto Ulbricht considers infanticide as a key crime for the legal reforms in the 18th century. The death penalty should be replaced by preventative measures. Otto Ulbricht, Kindsmord und Aufklärung in Deutschland, München 1990; Otto Ulbricht, Kindsmord in der Frühen Neuzeit, in: Ute Gerhard (ed.): Frauen in der Geschichte des Rechts. Von der Frühen Neuzeit bis zur Gegenwart, München 1997, pp. 235-247.
[vi] Staatsarchiv Amberg, Pfalz Sulzbacher Regierung, Sulzbacher Akten, signature: 42 279.
[vii] Stadtarchiv Sulzbach-Rosenberg, infanticides 1734-1752. In puncto Infanticidy. VII. Allgemeine Landespolizei. 1. Sicherheits- und Sittenpolizei. Schöffenurteile, signature A 69: 1. Katharina Heringloher, 1734; 2. Margaretha Beer, 1735; 3. Magdalena Ebenhöher, 1739; 4. Katharina Schlegl, 1739; 5. Katharina Grünthaler, 1743; 6. Jüdin Hanna, nachgehend getaufte Maria Franziska Eleonora, 1751.
[viii] All English translations of quotes from German sources are my own. „Inquisitin Catharina Schläglin wegen daß sie ihre schwangeschafft vor jedmann boshafft versch verborgen gehalten: ohnmalst der etlichmahl empfunden wehen vom feldt allein nach haus gegangen, und das nicht nur dem da vor alle leuthen abgeßondert, heimlich gebohrenen kind die nabelschnur unverbunden gelaßßen sondern so hauptsächlich demselben daß köpfle zerquetschet heirnach auch noch den halß zugedrukt, und das kind ins waßßer, bis es ganz ertrunken, geleget.“ Stadtarchiv Sulzbach-Rosenberg, infanticides 1734-1752. In puncto Infanticidy. VII. Allgemeine Landespolizei. 1. Sicherheits- und Sittenpolizei. Schöffenurteile, signature A 69: 4. Katharina Schlegl, 1739, fol. 49 v. 
[ix] Eva Lehner: „einschreiben und vleißßig auffbehalten, auff daß man sich inn mancherlei fällen zeugnuß zu gebrauchen habe“. Dokumentieren als Praxisform in frühneuzeitlichen Kirchenbüchern, in: Jan-Hendryk de Boer (Hg.): Praxisformen. Zur kulturellen Logik von Zukunftshandeln, Frankfurt/New York 2019, S. 147–163.
[x] „Wurde bey der Gotterbarme es ! eine abermahlige kinder-Mörderin bey unser beiden zubereitung u begleitung durchs Schwerd vom Leben zum todt glückl. Gebracht Catharina Schlegelin, des nochim Leben sich befindenden Johan Schlegels, wohlhabenden Bauers-Tochter zu Schnellersdorf Edelfelder Pfarreien zwar eintziges kind vom 1ten Weib, mit der 2ten aber ohne kinder lebend weliche von Jobst Pferber von Fronberg gebürtig; aber dermahlen zu M[?] im dienst stehenden knecht impregnirt worden. Sie hat ihr schwanger=schafft aber denen Eltern u dem kerl beständig geläugnet, aus furcht vor den Eltern, welche diesen Pferber, weil er nicht reich war, und sie einend andern hätte haben können, endlich aus desperation das kind umgebracht, da die Eltern und alles auf dem felde war, und es in den stall vergraben. Sie habe aber ihre grausame that bey der ersten arrestirung in königstein w. visitierung durch die amm gleich umständlich bekannt, die größe ihrer sünde erkant letzlich mit viel Thränen bereuet u sich zum todt rechtschaffen und sehr frei bereitet, mit vieler leute verwunderung bey ihrer Jugend im 23te Jahr ihres[?].“ Evangelisch-lutherisches Pfarrarchiv der Christuskirche Sulzbach-Rosenberg, church register 8: baptisms, marriages, burials 1702-1769; since 2015 the register is stored im Landesarchiv der Lutherisch-Evangelischen Kirche in Bayern, 505/8, burial entry 3th October 1739, pp. 115 and 116, n. 27.

Neun Blogs, die wir gerne lesen

de.hypothesis wird neun Jahre alt! Herzlichen Glückwunsch und ein Danke an alle Personen, die hinter den Kulissen diese bereichernde Blogplattform zu dem machen, was sie in den letzten Jahren geworden ist. Unser Blog ist seit knapp drei Jahren mit dabei und wir freuen uns über die vielen inspirierenden Gedanken und Einblicke in wissenschaftliche Arbeiten, die wir über de.hypothesis entdecken konnten. 

Mit Freude nehmen wir am  „Tag der geisteswissenschaftlichen Community“ teil. Anbei eine  Auswahl unserer liebsten Blogs (in alphabetischer Reihenfolge): 

Starten wollen wir mit einem Blog, der eigentlich gar kein Blog ist, sondern die Plattform für einen Podcast! Auf Anno-punktpunktpunkt werden Gäste zu ihren Forschungsprojekten in der Geschichtswissenschaft interviewt. Besonders angetan hat es uns die Folge mit Bianca Walther zu Lebensbeziehungen und -gemeinschaften bürgerlicher Frauen in Deutschland und Schweden um 1890. 

Der Barblog bereichert uns, weil er uns aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive von Recht erzählt, wie unterschiedliche Zugriffe auf Recht aussehen können. Deutlich wird, wie interdisziplinäres Arbeiten mit Recht aussehen kann, also das was wir in unserer Forschungsgruppe machen. 

Belonging war womöglich der Ausgangpunkt, unser Vorbild und Motivation für diesen Blog. Levke Harders zeigt dort, wie kreativ und überzeugend akademisches Bloggen aussehen kann. Sie gibt immer wieder spannende Einblicke in ihre Arbeit zu Migration im 19. Jahrhundert, Fremdheit und Zugehörigkeit. 

An der Uni Wien entsteht der Blog [fernetzt], ein junges Forschungsnetzwerk zu Frauen- und Geschlechtergeschichte. Der Blog bietet zum Beispiel die Möglichkeit der Auseinandersetzung mit methodischen und theoretischen Fragen der Frauen- und Geschlechtergeschichte, die in der universitären Ausbildung häufig zu kurz kommen. Mindestens genauso viel Freude haben wir auch beim Lesen der kleinen Quelleninterpretationen, wie zum Beispiel diese zur Hausnummer des Hermaphroditen.

Der Genderblog des Zentrums für transdisziplinäre Geschlechterforschung an der HU Berlin ist vielfältig. Es macht uns Freude durch die vielfältigen Beiträge in ihren so unterschiedlichen Kategorien zu scrollen. #MeinSchreibtisch zeigt beispielsweise einen Blick hinter, bzw. auf die Kulisse eine*r schreibenden und forschenden Person. Weiter gibt es immer Einblicke auch in tagespolitische Debatten. 

Dieser Blog berichtet aus der Forschung zu Zeitgeschichte und historischer Migration an der Universität Osnabrück. Leser*innen können hier aus den verschiedenen Kategorien auswählen. Besonders angetan hat es uns die Kategorie „Zeitgeschichte„. 

Das Projekt möchte Geschichte von LSBTTIQ-Personen im Nationalsozialismus und der BRD in Baden und Württemberg erforschen, aufarbeiten und sichtbar machen. Zu einzelnen Schicksalen, die aus der Lebenswelt, von der Repression und Verfolgung erzählen, kann man* auf dem dazugehörigen Blog lesen. 

Auf Notches finden wir Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sexualität. Der Blog berichtet aus verschiedenen Regionen, Epochen und zu unterschiedlichen Schwerpunkten. Im Fokus steht jedoch immer  Sexualität als Forschungsgegenstand. Zu unserer großen Freude erscheinen dort hin und wieder auch Beiträge, die die Verschränkung von Sexualität und Recht sichtbar machen.

Um auf dem Laufenden zu bleiben, wenn es um Debatten und Entwicklungen im Verfassungsrecht Deutschlands geht, lesen wir regelmäßig Posts auf dem Verfassungsblog

Viel Spaß beim Stöbern, Lesen und Entdecken! 

Recht, Sexualität und Rasse – Der Transfer der nationalsozialistischen Strafverfolgung von Homosexualität in Europa

Frédéric Stroh gehört dem Geschichtsforschungszentrum ARCHE der Université de Strasbourg (Frankreich). Er hat 2018 mit einer Dissertation über die NS-Strafverfolgung der Homosexualität in Baden und im annektierten Elsass promoviert. Nach einem Forschungsaufenthalt am Deutschen Historischen Institut Warschau und in Slowenien führt er zurzeit ein Forschungsprojekt für das Saarland über die Verfolgung der männlichen Homosexualität (1933-1994) durch. Kontakt: www.frederic-stroh.eu

Im Zuge der Eroberung Europas durch den nationalsozialistischen Staat ab 1939, wunderten sich die deutschen Behörden in den besetzten Gebieten über die Ausbreitung der männlichen Homosexualität. In Posen mahnte im April 1941 ein Amtsrichter an, dass „der gleichgeschlechtliche Verkehr zwischen Polen hier im Wartheland ein Ausmass angenommen hat, dass er die öffentliche Sittlichkeit gefährdet“.[1] Im Elsass teilte die deutsche Kriminalpolizei dem deutschen Oberstaatsanwalt im November 1940 mit: „in Kolmar ist nach den bisherigen Feststellungen die Unzucht unter Männern sehr verbreitet“[2]. Dies schien die deutschen Verfolgungsakteure gerade deswegen zu überraschen, weil der NS-Staat in den 1930er Jahren eine harte – vor allem gerichtliche – Verfolgung der männlichen Homosexuellen durchgeführt hat.

Eine direkte Umsetzung des NS-Strafverfolgungsmodells der Homosexualität außerhalb des Reichs fand aber nicht statt. Das lag erstens daran, dass die Rechtsrahmen in vielen Ländern eine solche Strafverfolgung am Anfang unmöglich gemacht haben. Zweitens aber wurde die Strafverfolgung der Homosexualität zum Teil durch die NS-Rassenpolitik bedingt. Das möchte ich im Folgenden ausführen.

„Recht, Sexualität und Rasse – Der Transfer der nationalsozialistischen Strafverfolgung von Homosexualität in Europa“ weiterlesen

Kritische Justiz: HIV/AIDS, Kondome und das Recht auf sichere Sexualität

Für die aktuelle „Kritische Justiz“ zu Recht – Geschlecht – Kollektivität hat Adrian Lehne
einen Beitrag verfasst, der sich damit beschäftigt, wie sich Vorstellungen zur Prävention und Umgang mit Sexualität im Kontext von HIV/AIDS im Sozialrecht entwickelten.

Adrian Lehne: HIV/AIDS, Kondome und das Recht auf sichere SexualitätIn: Isabell Hensel, Veronika Springmann & Petra Sußner (Hg.): Recht-Geschlecht- Kollektivität, Kritische Justiz 1/53 (2021), S. 468 – 474.

Kritische Justiz: Recht – Geschlecht – Kollektivität

Die aktuelle „Kritische Justiz“ zu Recht – Geschlecht – Kollektivität.
Veronika Springern, Isabell Hensel und Petra Sussner haben das Editorial zu „Geschichte – Gegenwart – Utopie“ geschrieben.

Springmann, Veronika (zusammen mit Isabell Hensel und Petra Sußner): Geschlechtergerechtigkeit als kollektive Praxis: Geschichte-Gegenwart-Utopie. In: Isabell Hensel, Veronika Springmann & Petra Sußner (Hg.): Recht-Geschlecht- Kollektivität, Kritische Justiz 1/53 (2021), S. 3-9.

The Conservative Roots of Reproductive Rights

Roman Birke is a Research and Teaching Associate in Contemporary History at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena. His research focuses on the history of human rights, reproductive policies, and gender. In 2020, he published ‘Geburtenkontrolle als Menschenrecht. Die globale Diskussion über Überbevölkerung seit den 1940ern‘ (Wallstein). The book investigates the linkage between overpopulation discourse and human rights since the 1940s. It argues that in the 1950s and 1960s, claims that ‘overpopulation’ threatened to endanger human rights proved to be a key factor in the success of population control programs in the global south. 

In the 1960s, traditional norms about sexuality were challenged by what became known as the ‘sexual revolution’. In 1968, the United Nations adopted a resolution which, for the first time in the UN’s history, declared the use of contraceptives to be a human right. But, as this contribution argues, the new human right to contraception was not part of a discourse of sexual freedom but reinforced traditional family norms. 

‘Sexual revolution’

Historiographical accounts have convincingly questioned the term ‘sexual revolution’ as the transformation of sexual norms was less an event but rather a process. But, without a doubt, studies on sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s changed the public debates about sexual practices long considered taboo, including extra-marital sex and homosexuality. At the same time, feminist activists campaigned for the acknowledgment of female sexual desires and demanded a separation of sex and reproduction. At least in the ‘Western’ world, the development of new contraceptive technologies like the ‘pill’ and the IUD (Intrauterine device) have been key for advancing this agenda, despite the uneven access to contraceptives and women’s critique of bearing the sole responsibility for contraceptive choices and risks.

Contraception as a Human Right

During the contentious debates about sexual norms in the 1960s, the United Nations claimed that the use of contraceptives was a human right and urged governments to provide couples with the ‘means necessary to enable them to exercise their right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children’.[1] Many contemporary contributions like the Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics claim that these UN documents were the cornerstone of what we understand as reproductive and sexual rights today which include the right to decide whether or not to have children, the right to sexual and reproductive health and being able to have a ‘satisfying and safe sex life’, independent of sexual preferences.[2] But, surprisingly, the UN-resolutions of the 1960s were not part of a discourse of sexual freedom. Rather, they understood contraception as a potential remedy to the anxieties of global overpopulation and emphasized traditional family norms.

The couple as rights-holder

Contrary to many human rights documents at the time, the resolutions declared the couple instead of the individual to be the bearer of a right to contraception. But, who, within the couple, had the power to decide on whether or not to use contraception? Many domestic legal and constitutional norms in the 1960s and beyond declared men to be the head of the family which made the individual exercise of rights dependent on the gendered power imbalances within the couple. This was not only a matter of legal theory. When, in 1984, a large number of activists gathered for the International Women’s Health Conference, speakers emphasized that many women in their respective countries cannot make contraceptive choices without the agreement of their male spouses. 

Protecting the family

The UN’s view on reproductive rights was strongly linked to how human rights documents conceptualized the family. The 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 16) and the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 23) both defined the family as ‘the natural and fundamental group unit of society’ and argued that it was ‘entitled to protection by society and the State.’ Many UN member countries emphasized that contraception should not question traditional roles of men and women within the family. In a series of meetings of the UN’s Third Committee in 1966 and 1967, the French and Iranian delegates argued that questioning these roles would introduce ‘elements of conflict into the marriage’ and threaten the ‘unity and harmony of the family’. The British delegate reasoned that equal opportunities should not be ‘divorced from a woman’s primary duty to her family’. Only the US-delegate argued that the responsibilities for family affairs including family planning ‘should be shared by both spouses’ and that calls to protect the harmony of the family were just ‘pretext for discriminatory practices against women’.[3]

Despite such a critique, traditional family norms remained at the forefront of global UN-programs that distributed contraceptives to men and women. While many organizations and activists involved in these efforts privately believed in the emancipatory potential of contraception, they focused on providing only married couples with contraceptives and emphasized traditional gender roles. Instead of showcasing alternative roles beyond traditional family norms, advertisements for contraception like the 1968 Disney film ‘Family Planning’ argued that using contraceptives to reduce the number of children would allow women to be more efficient in carrying out their domestic duties.  

Change

Despite their focus on maintaining traditional family norms, early reproductive rights declarations already contained an acknowledgement of individual desires to limit the number of children. Paradoxically, this position was not per se related to the discourses of the ‘sexual revolution’. Also, it was not primarily concerned with envisioning new roles for women beyond motherhood and duties to the family. Rather, limiting the number of children was part of a wider discourse of overpopulation and attempts to reduce population growth in the global south. But despite the original intentions, the human right to contraception became a slogan that was reappropriated by the women’s movement and activist-minded international lawyers who intended to change global gender relations. Already in 1975, the UN Mexico City Women’s conference formulated a strong rebuke to previous UN resolutions on contraception. Instead of declaring contraception a couple’s right, their resolution claimed that all individuals had such a right. They also emphasized that individuals did not only have a right to limit the number of their children. They also claimed a right of not having children at all. 

While UN human rights doctrine started to understand women’s rights as independent of their roles within the family, many contemporary debates about contraception and the family are reminiscent of the conservative origins of reproductive rights in the 1960s. Based on what Ivan Krastev described as ‘demographic anxiety’, many authoritarian governments envision a national awakening by the means of an increased birth rate of heterosexual couples, turning back decades of developments in the legal understanding of reproductive rights.[4]


Cite this article: Roman Birke, „The Conservative Roots of Reproductive Rights“, in: History | Sexuality | Law, 19/01/2021, https://hsl.hypotheses.org/1580, (abgerufen am: Datum).


[1] United Nations: Declaration on Social Progress and Development, Proclaimed by General Assembly resolution 2542 (XXIV) of 11 December 1969.
[2] Leslie Francis, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Reproductive Ethics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017).
[3] United Nations Official Records: Minutes of the Third Committee in 1966 and 1967 (Meetings 1444, 1445, 1469, 1475).
[4] Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes, ‘Populisms in Eastern Europe: A Demographic Anxiety’, Le Débat No 204, no. 2 (2019): 161–69.

A Gay Turning Point that Failed to Turn? The Beethoven hall Podium Discussion of 1980

Samuel Clowes Huneke is assistant professor of history in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University. His research, which focuses on gender and sexuality in Nazi and Cold War Germany, has appeared in scholarly publications including Journal of Contemporary History and New German Critique. His first book, tentatively titled States of Liberation: Gay Men between Dictatorship and Democracy in Cold War Germany, is under contract with University of Toronto Press. He is a frequent contributor to Boston ReviewLos Angeles Review of Books, and The Point magazine.  

On July 12, 1980, thousands of gay West Germans descended on Bonn. A federal election was imminent and West Germany’s gay activists had organized a so-called podium discussion at the Beethovenhalle, the large performance hall that had twice hosted the Bundesversammlung, which elects the Federal Republic’s President. Inviting representatives of the major parties to speak to a queer audience, the instigators hoped the event would pressure politicians—in particular those of the governing Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Free Democratic Party (FDP)—to concede to their policy demands. These included reparations for gay victims of the Holocaust and repeal of §175 of the penal code, which after the law’s 1969 reform set a higher age of consent for sex acts between men. 

„A Gay Turning Point that Failed to Turn? The Beethoven hall Podium Discussion of 1980“ weiterlesen