The Weimar Republic is well-known for its gay rights movement and recent scholarship has demonstrated some of its contradictory elements. In his recent book entitled The Seduction of Youth: Print Culture and Homosexual Rights in the Weimar Republic
(University of Toronto Press, 2020), Javier Samper Vendrell
writes the first study to focus on the League for Human Rights and its leader, Friedrich Radszuweit. It uses his position at the center of the Weimar-era gay rights movement to tease out the diverging political strategies and contradictory tactics that distinguished the movement. By examining news articles and opinion pieces, as well as literary texts and photographs in the League’s numerous pulp magazines for homosexuals, Vendrell reconstructs forgotten aspects of the history of same-sex desire and subjectivity. While recognizing the possibilities of liberal rights for sexual freedom during the Weimar Republic, the League’s "respectability politics" failed in part because Radszuweit’s own publications contributed to the idea that homosexual men were considered a threat to youth, doing little to change the views of the many people who believed in homosexual seduction – a homophobic trope that endured well into the twentieth century.
Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018. It was recently awarded the Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize for 2018.