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Magnus Hirschfeld and his Futuristic Studies

Magnus Hirschfeld was a sexologist who had created the institute for sexuality, which would be the first LGBTQ+ friendly space. He had a theory that sexuality was natural and that it was not in anyone's control. Though, due to the Nazi party, the institute would be burned down and many people would go to concentration camps due to their sexuality or identity. Even with the laws in Germany, he would travel the world explaining his theories on sexuality, starting new curiosities on sexuality and gender.

Doctor Hirschfeld was born in a jewish and conservative family, though he had a fascination of sex and everything around it. His family wasn’t not as supportive but they did not stop him from studying this topic. He himself was homosexual but tried his best to keep it a secret in the beginning. 

Though he enjoyed the topic, he had run into a major conflict such as watching a homosexual man being humiliated in his class in medical school. He had also been confronted by a soldier who had committed suicide after Hirschfeld offered to show him his work. Though not all was bad, some people did become tolerant to homosexuals through Hirschfeld. 

One person in particular would be the police commissioner of Berlin, he was shown around to multiple gay bars with the intention of stopping the police from enforcing paragraph 175. Paragraph 175 was the law against homosexuality. Expectations from the commissioner were not pleasant but he found the LGBTQ+ community to be very pleasant and this didn’t backfire on Hirschfeld or the community. 

Hirschfeld had done many things in his career that pushed towards decriminalization, though due to the time period and the rise of the Nazi party. In one case he had been asked in court to help explain the nature of a princes’ supposed homosexuality. This case is known as the Eulenburg Affair, where prince Phillip of Eulenburg and Kaiser Wilhelm II had thrown get-togethers where men could leave the public eye. While rumors had started getting around due to a journalist, about Phillip and another man, Hirschfeld had tried to gain understanding for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Hirschfeld, in court, would go on to say that Prince Phillips homosexuality was natural. The court did not like this, everything that Magnus Hirschfeld had said backfired on him and Phillip. The court did not enjoy the statement about homosexuality being natural and Phillip was socially destroyed. 

Magnus Hirschfeld did not give up on the fight for LGBTQ+ rights. He was so determined that in 1919 he opened up an institute that would help with multiple issues in the world of sexuality and gender. People didn’t call him “the Einstein of sex” for nothing. The Institute of Sexual Research would go on to be more than just a research facility. Hirschfeld would provide  surgeries or other medical treatments for individuals who were of another gender and had pushed for women's rights. 

If you didn’t know, the Nazi party started in 1919 and Hirschfeld was very public about his beliefs and research on the LGBTQ+ community. All of this creates one big ball of mess that creates a political mess for Hirschfeld. He had been attacked on multiple occasions, though this was different due to the fact that they were after more than just him, they wanted the institute. 

In 1933, the institute would be burned down and everything inside would be destroyed and records would be pulled to find anyone a part of the LGBTQ+ community. After this, Hirschfeld stayed out of Germany and never returned, he stayed in Nice, France where he would die in 1935. 

Hirschfeld was ahead of his time and would’ve been very successful, even though the institute burned down and the Nazi party tried to cover up his work, his influence was very productive. Many of the ideas about gender and sexuality that we have today, reflect on what he had discovered and believed. 

90 years on: The destruction of the institute of sexual science ... (n.d.). 

Adrian Murphy        (opens in new window)    (Europeana Foundation), & Magnus Hirschfield was a German Jewish physician and sexologist. (n.d.). Pioneering sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld. Europeana. 

carpgmu2019. (2019, January 4). Outing eulenburg: A German scandal. Character Assassination and Reputation Politics Research Lab. 

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld and the Berlin Institute for Sexual Science, 1919–1933 - Hektoen International. Hektoen International - An online medical humanities journal. (2023, October 6). 

The First Institute for Sexual Science (1919-1933). Magnus Hirschfeld und das Institut für Sexualwissenschaft. (n.d.). 

Peter Tatchell Foundation. (2019, February 28). Magnus Hirschfeld 1868-1935: German LGBT Pioneer. 

Through knowledge to justice: The sexual world of dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. GLBT Historical Society. (n.d.).  

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