Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Melissa Etzler


In looking back at German history, the Weimar Era and the 1920s, in particular, are often regarded as a time of unrestricted frivolity and the catharsis of post-war anxiety. In retrospect, it can be temptingly easy to credit the changing political landscape and liberalization of German society between 1918 and 1933 as a brief but inherently doomed moment of progressivism that necessarily would give way to a strident, reactionary backlash. Often, the increased visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ individuals during this time is regarded as a symptom of the “anything goes” attitude for which the Weimar Era has been famous. Dismissing the Weimar Republic as frivolous experiment in this way is an oversimplification that overlooks the important progress achieved in the fields of psychology and sexology during this time. In reality, the research performed by scientists like psychologist Magnus Hirschfeld proves that the progress being made for queer Germans during the Weimar years was meaningful and anything but frivolous. In the years following World War II, policymakers of East and West Germany attempted to regain stability, and in doing so adopted a more conservative approach to the issue of homosexuality than their Weimar Republic predecessors. The reactionary movement helped to confirm the sweeping dismissal of the Weimar Era as a moment of chaos and confusion best left behind. This reestablishment of gender norms is clearly illustrated in both the later version of Mädchen in Uniform and Anders als du und ich, in which changing rhetoric and scientific understandings of sexuality demonstrate a significant shift in the way Germans were thinking about queerness.