Bare Strength, Gay Berlin and more.
– Robert Beachy This superb account traces the emergence of gay identity and sexual orientation in Germany (notably in Berlin) from the 1850s to well beyond the turn of last century. One fascinating chapter focuses on the Eulenburg scandal that tainted Kaiser William II. Philipp Prince zu Eulenburg-Hertefeld was a close friend of Kaiser William and although married with five children, Eulenburg and his friends were suspected of being homosexual. Allegedly their pet name for the Kaiser was Liebchen (‘Darling’)! Matters came to a head when a journalist published derisive articles in 1906 about the Kaiser’s entourage which ultimately led to a libel trial.
In the stirring opening chapter, readers learn of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German activist who is often credited with being the first man to come out, openly acknowledging his sexual attraction to other men back in 1867. Another chapter is devoted to Magnus Hirschfeld and his Institute For Sexual Science. Beachy also explores why Berlin was so popular with prominent foreigners in the chapter, Sex Tourism And Male Prostitution In Weimar Berlin. Christopher Isherwood, WH Auden and Stephen Spender are famously associated with Berlin, but Beachy reveals dozens of other well-known men who relished its charms, such as artist Marsden Hartley, architect Philip Johnson and socialite David Herbert. The text is complemented by fascinating historical photographs highlighting key figures such as Hirschfeld and also Isherwood and his German boyfriend, Otto.